Happy Valentine’s Day Latinas! As you dive into a healthy amount of chocolates, receive gorgeous flowers and gaze deeply into los ojos del su amor, let’s take a minute to find out what the feeling of love really is.
What is love?
This crazy little thing called “love” is defined in many ways, different for every person and every culture. When you think about love, do you picture a person, think of a feeling or have an image of an object in your head? Some people may associate love with romantic feelings, but there is also compassionate love, feelings of infatuation, motherly love, and so many others.
There is a science behind love
Although we associate love with our hearts, the feeling is actually developed in the brain. When various chemicals are released in our brain, they react with neurotransmitters that trigger feelings and emotions. When these chemicals aren’t being produced or functioning properly, we experience complications because of it. It seems like a crazy concept, but our bodies are far more complex than we can imagine. Dopamine and Seratonin are chemicals that we remember hearing in our high school health classes, but do we really know how these chemicals affect our moods and feelings?
Dopamine is a neuotransmitter that not only helps regulate movement and emotional balances, but when released in certain areas of the brain, it gives you the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction.
Serotonin is what makes you feel calm and confident. Dopamine and Serotonin work together in dangerous ways. When you first start “falling in love with someone” your Dopamine levels spike significantly and your Serotonin levels drop drastically. Low Serotonin can cause feelings of obsession and anxiety, which is why every time your mind wanders while in love, you end up thinking about your novio. Fortunately, the high Dopamine levels allow these feelings to be a positive type of anxiety like butterflies in your stomach.
Norepinephrine is the reason you stay up all night hablando con su amor and why love makes you weak at the knees. It is a stress hormone that controls your attention and your responding actions, according to Helen Fisher, a professor at Rutgers University.
Pheremones are odorless chemicals found in sweat and may hone the ability to entice members of the opposite sex. Ongoing studies have proven that the chemicals play an integral role in attracting mates for animals and insects, but the effects in humans are still unclear.
Oxytocin is a chemical that strongly affects women and their “social bonding.” In a study by neuroscientist Larry Young, high levels of Oxytocin enhance social bonding in women and in men, a similar hormone called vasopressin promotes bonding and fatherly behaviors. Another study by Paul Zak, a researcher at Claremount Graduate University suggests that Oxytocin encourages people to form relationships, trust other people and empathize.
Whether you are single or in a relationship today, celebrate Valentine’s Day with a new found understanding of your brain and the crazy science of love. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
-The Healthy Latina