5 Scientific Reasons Falling In Love Feels So Good

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Why Everyone Wants to Fall in Love, Even If They Believe It Doesn't Exist
Love, Self

So very often we ask ourselves the questions, "Why do we fall in love? What does it mean to fall in love?"

Experts from biology, philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience have come with a variety of theories about why people want to fall in love. 

Among them are the genetic need for procreation, the perpetuation of the species, the rush of hormone release, the reduction of stress, and others. 

All these theories have a point. Yet, I give the most credit to the desire for fulfillment of very basic physical and psychosocial needs. 

From an early age, we are prone to feel attraction for others, and there is still a big mystery about what causes attraction. 

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Most people remember that initial spark when someone captivated their eyes in a second. The "falling in love" phenomenon is an extension of this.  

The act of falling in love fulfills, at least temporarily, many of the basic physical and psychological elements of the human hierarchy of needs in one shot.

It fulfills the need for nurture and sexuality, the need for safety, love, and the need for social acceptance and belonging. So in a brief space of time, one can fill up all these needs without much mental or physical effort and at the same time put behind whatever grief, trauma, or any sort of challenges we had been facing. 

Suddenly, life becomes a bed of roses and anything is possible.  

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Here are 5 benefits of falling in love:

1. Falling in love enhances personal care.

When you like someone, you immediately care more about your appearance. 

You watch your figure, you change your hair, put on more makeup, or get new clothing. Doing any of these things automatically provokes a feeling of hope and excitement. 

You have a new illusion and purpose. There is something to look forward to.

2. It activates the feel-good chemicals in your body.

Just the anticipation of talking to or seeing that favorite person is enough to activate powerful hormones and neurotransmitters in your body. A large rush of dopamine and serotonin gets turn on during the "in love" phase

These chemicals induce a feeling of ecstasy, arousal, energy, and overall happiness. Suddenly, you may find yourself fantasizing on and making plans for activities you haven’t thought about in a long while. 

You have this sudden appreciation and joy for life. As the physical experience begins, the bonding hormone oxytocin gets released, allowing for intimacy and trust.

3. Your attitude and mood changes.

As expected, you are in a better mood. You feel happy and you want everyone to be happy for you and for themselves. You feel more attractive and better about yourself. 

You care less to engage in negativity and frequently daydream and smile. You reach out and talk more with your friends to share your experience. You have more energy to do things, you look at life with hope and with a positive outlook. 

4. It promotes social acceptance.

Social approval is a big need for humans and animals. We are biologically wired to be connected. Social rejection can lead to an array of psychological traumas including depression and suicide. 

The need for social acceptance is embedded in us. Having a mate has been culturally associated with being loved, happy, and stable. It is almost as if the notion that someone wants to be with you is a symbolic proof that you are worthy of love. 

This is a big factor on teenagers being so desperately to date and young adults being pressured to be in a steady relationship. This pressure is so overwhelming that it predisposes most people to fabricate an "in love" experience even when it isn't such. Many first-time marriages have also been driven by this social pressure.

5. It promotes self-esteem and psychosocial safety.

For the same reasons mentioned above, being socially perceived as happy may be all we need to believe it ourselves. It takes away the pressure of being single and perceived as unwanted or unhappy, therefore, bringing a sense of safety and high esteem. 

In addition, having a romantic partner almost guarantees you a partner to hang out with, without having to reach out and ask friends for company.

6. Novelty increases motivation and joy.

Humans gravitate to routine and familiarity; however, it is the best formula for depression. The human brain is designed to create, to invent, and to evolve. 

Novelty, learning, and experimenting with new things expands our neuro-connections and makes us smarter and healthier. 

When we fall in love, our sense of curiosity enhances tremendously. We want to know everything about the other person, we listen better, we pay attention, we focus, and we want to explore new things and activities with this person. 

That sense of newness is very gratifying and stimulating to our senses. It is one key ingredient of happiness and it can be triggered by many experiences, not just falling in love.

What about when falling in love isn't such a good experience?

Plenty of movies portray a very painful and dramatic picture of the "falling in love" experience. There is so much that many people expect and accept becoming an emotional wreck. 

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In addition to all the chemicals released when falling in love mentioned above, there is also adrenaline, a biochemical component induced by stress. 

Some portion of adrenaline is needed for focus and excitement and it is expected as result of the anticipatory fear of a new situation. 

However, when people are in a vulnerable stage due to previous traumas, a recent breakup, divorce, low self-esteem, loneliness, or history of painful relationships, the "in love" anticipation and phase may generate a lot more adrenaline and stress hormones than of the other happy chemicals. 

This is the experience usually described by people as sleepless nights, obsessive thinking, a compulsive need to contact the other person, extreme anxiety, fear of abandonment, jealousy, and multiple arguments. 

Unfortunately, many perceive this as a normal part of being in love and starting a relationship. 

They remain on it until it is no longer bearable and typically jump to a new one where they create a similar atmosphere.

There is also that other group which expects the high of the "in love" phase to last forever and becomes bored and unmotivated when the intensity lowers. These are the eternal seekers of the perfect love or in-love junkies.  

We need to be realistic. 

Although we call this phase "in love", it has very little to do with true love. It has more to do with all the factors above mentioned. After that initial phase, the time comes to assess the compatibility rate and move on the path of a more committed relationship.  

It is through the commitment of getting along, sharing, and being good friends that people fall really in love and build up true intimacy. The long-term "in love" commitment, can only take place with the passage of time and the living of experiences where two people trust each other enough to allow themselves to be vulnerable and transparent.

These people experience a bonding where they learn to accept one another and continue growing and maintaining a healthy balance between individuality and "couple-ness".

Other than being in love, many experiences in life can fulfill our needs to feel loved and complete. Prioritizing self-love is a much better predictor of the quality of your relationships and the happiness you may achieve on your own, or in partnership with another human being. 

So fall in love with yourself first.

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Iris Pitaluga is the founder of Alternatives Counseling Center. She has practiced psychotherapy in the state of Florida for nearly twenty years.