Love is like a drug

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Are you falling for someone? Are you already in love? Or are you like the many who are completely single and couldn’t be happier? 

Whichever category you might fall into, love is more than just a feeling, but a multitude of responses inside the brain and body that pulls you in and can be hard to let go. 

Love is something many have dreamt about as children and even continue to as adults. This need to be loved and to love is quite perplexing.

Yet, what is so special about love and why can it be so all-consuming?

As surprising or unsurprising to some as it might seem, romantic love can produce an array of responses in the body and can be fueled by chemicals in the body.

This makes sense as it seems like a full-body experience when even attempting to go on a first date with both head and heart in mind.

Depending just how far along the stage of romance or the relationship can also determine the different levels of hormones released in the and in turn can affect how excited or comfortable one might feel in the relationship.

With love there can be these fluctuating feelings of excitement, nervousness, confusion, frustration and so much more. Yet it is likely not specific to one person or another, but to many people. 

This is likely because the pursuit of love or need for love is a part of nature.

Chemicals in the brain like dopamine, oxytocin, cortisol and others are important because they can contribute to feelings of pleasure, attachment, bonding and stress. 

Some of the chemicals can also contribute to the not so fun side effects like poor appetite, ruminating thoughts and nervousness.

With this in mind, the idea of being in love doesn’t necessarily sound all that enticing. 

It seems more likely one would be exhausted before reaping any benefits. 

Fortunately for some, it appears the initial anxiety and discomfort in a new relationship doesn’t necessarily last

However, if one finds themselves unsuccessful in finding love or being successful at love, don’t worry. 

Hope is not lost. 

While some might believe others are lucky or unlucky at love, maybe it’s something they’re doing which is affecting their outcome.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher was featured on Ted Radio Hour back in 2019 where she shared her thoughts and findings on love.

Fisher stated how she believed romantic love and attachment were biological drives instead of feelings. With this, people can have a choice in who they fall in love with if they’re able to overcome that drive. 

As a result, instead of succumbing to the drives one can learn to adapt that drive to their needs before falling for the wrong person or before their ability to make decisions about the relationship falters. 

With this in mind and based upon Fisher’s perspective, choose your lover based on connection, attraction and personal needs instead of placing a heavier emphasis solely on wants.

Love can be hard to find and equally hard to let go. With all the internal factors affecting love, it’s no surprise people find themselves in heartbreak for reasons like time, energy, love spent and even missing the enjoyable emotions mixed in. 

It’s easy to want to return to those enjoyable feelings which in part makes love so addictive. 

Love is complicated not just to experience, but also to explain. It is a culmination of feelings, emotions and needs. 

However, when one chooses to pursue or be in love, understanding the varying emotions can all be a part of the process. 

Finding a way to enjoy the experience and implications of love versus questioning just how good one might be in love might make the process a little easier.

Katherine Graves is a junior strategic communications major who can be reached at [email protected]

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