Falling in love gets a lot of hype, and deservedly so. It’s exhilarating, maddening, and, at times, overwhelming (in the good way). There is an eternity’s worth of songs, books, and movies that speak to that stomach-full-of-butterflies, heart-pounding-in-your-chest feeling. This devotion to the topic of devotion is only natural.
Humans love love, and are chemically wired to seek it out, says neuropsychologist Julia DiGangi, PhD. “I hear all the time ‘I was at a convention of 40,000 people when I saw them, and we connected like we were the only two people in the room,’” she says. “And that very well might be what you feel.” This is a result of the neurochemical cocktail of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps humans maintain happiness and a sense of calm long-term, and dopamine, which is more of an instant gratification hormone, that floods your brain and body when you begin to connect with someone, DiGangi explains.
Another notable scholar, Beyoncé Knowles Carter, once sang, “Your love got me looking so crazy right now,” and per DiGangi, that’s a pretty accurate representation of falling in love. When crazy in love (get it?), serotonin levels drop, while dopamine levels soar, DiGangi explains.
In fact, the low serotonin levels can cause people to have tunnel vision regarding the other person, says DiGangi. The activity in the brain of someone experiencing loving feelings is similar to what neuroscientists see in the brains of patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, she adds. Your stress hormones may surge because you’re afraid of losing the person who is providing your brain with these feelings of ecstasy. This is what leads people to feel high, and often anxious, when they’re getting to know someone new, DiGangi explains.