Some people believe in love at first sight because it’s just what happened to them. What about you?
From personal experience or by hearsay, you know what love at first sight is. You probably know how it feels when two “halves” meet and love happens. Nonetheless, you may not be aware of what dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and pheromones are, and how they affect your mood when you’re in love. The former is the result of our pop and “romantic” (and cheesy) culture. The latter are chemistry and biology.
When you start dating someone you know nothing about – but somehow you like and feel attracted to – your brain starts secreting a series of hormones and chemical substances that dramatically alter their natural balance all over your body.
This is why you get euphoric, a bit anxious or embarrassed, and your heart beats fast when you are with the one you like. You feel uncomparably happy because the vision, presence, and even the thought of them can make you blush, sigh, sweat, smile, and crave for more.
Some studies published in the Journal of Neurophysiology show that, when in love, the human brain gets high as if on drugs. Euphoria and emotional dependence on your new crush are due to the excessive release of dopamine, adrenaline, vasopressin, and oxytocin.
This hormone in particular – oxytocin, aka “the love hormone” – makes us less anxious and inhibited but a bit more aggressive and cocky. Heart-pounding and anxiety are the results of norepinephrine and adrenaline. These hormones cause pupils to dilate just like LSD, cocaine, and hallucinogenic mushrooms do.
When you separate from your crush, you start feeling lovesick. Actually, it’s the stress hormone – cortisol – that causes your heartache. If you lose your appetite because you’re struggling for love, well, again, it’s cortisol. Or cocaine.
When your crush stops calling or texting or seeing you, and you feel like crap, corticotrophin is responsible for your anxiety and depression. You were on cloud nine for a while, and all of a sudden, you find yourself crying your guts out. Just like with drugs, “love” lifts you high first, then brings you down. Sometimes very, very down.
From personal experience or by hearsay, you know what a dead-end is. What you thought was meant to be your own personal “happily ever after” turns out to be “go back to start.” And you start again, from scratch, with someone else.
But what happens to all of those extra hormones in your body that gave you ups and downs? After a couple of weeks, you pee them, just like drugs. Thinking of peeing all the love that made you feel so good doesn’t sound romantic at all, I know, but that’s the way it is.
You might now wonder if this love-at-first-sight thing is just a hormone matter. Well, not really. When you date someone you like more than your hormones do, when there’s a mutual interest that goes beyond passion or sex, you can call it love at first sight. When things go wrong from the beginning, you can definitely call it love at first oversight. In any case, only time can tell.
Our hormones regulate our moods more often than we can imagine. Our moods are the mirror of our feelings and emotions. Our feelings and emotions come from the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, memories, hopes, wishes, and expectations that dwell in our minds. How reliable are our minds, though?
Alessandro Cozzolino, LGBTQ+ coach