How do you fall in love? That was the question I set out to answer. As a biologist, I understand what happens to the brain when you fall in love. It is the increase or decrease of certain neurotransmitters that gave you that unmistakable euphoric feeling of love.
But, how do you get there? What causes one person to fall in love and not another?
As I pondered this question, I had the opportunity to explore it with my cousin, who has a PhD in Biochemistry. During our discussion, my then 95-year-old Grandmother interrupted me to say, "You young people don’t know anything about love." She was obviously right. That’s why we were having the discussion.
She then said, "Back in my day, a girl knew if she wanted a guy to fall in love, she couldn’t sleep with him right away. She’ll fall in love, but a boy doesn’t fall in love that way."
I had heard that logic before, such as the three-date rule, or the 90-day rule in Steve Harvey’s book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Those rule suggest that you wait a certain time before you begin a sexual relationship. But, I didn’t think there was any science to support that idea. So I set out to learn first, how we fall in love and second, if my grandmother was right?
Researchers in Emory University decided to investigate the process using a unique creature, the monogamous prairie vole. What they discovered helped us to understand how people fall in love. They realized that the process is different for males than for females. Put in human terms, men and women fall in love differently.
In this 2016 TEDxBocaRaton talk, I explain what the researchers found. What neurotransmitters must increase to reach the neurological tipping point of falling in love. I explain the importance of dopamine and oxytocin levels for women, and dopamine, testosterone and vasopressin for men. But, even more important, how do they increase in each of us and how our behavior effects that increase.
Finally, I assess if my Grandmother’s wisdom holds up to scientific scrutiny. Please take a look at How Your Brain Falls In Love: