BISH THE SPARK the biology of falling in love header

Chemistry and love

‘Chemistry’ between people is actually biology. Here’s what happens when we feel the spark or a click with someone.

What is chemistry?

Ever really clicked or felt a spark with someone? Maybe you looked into each others eyes, felt your heartbeat race, they smiled, you smiled, your body tingled, you felt like you weren’t blinking, you wipe drool off your chin. This can feel really exciting when it happens. Some people feel like it’s really huge and life changing. This is when people say they ‘fell in love at first sight.’ Lots of complex things happen in your body when this happens.

The science bit

Oxytocin is a chemical in your brain that can help you to tune in with another person*. When the connection is happening oxytocin enables you to listen to the other person, to mirror what they are doing and to establish greater eye contact. Your brain actually mirrors the other person’s. Your brain sends signals to your heart along the vagus nerve. The heartbeat is regulated by this which helps to control your emotional responses. The heart then may also receive signals from the genitals to pump some blood down there in order to get a boner.

I micro-moments of positivity resonance you

It’s all pretty complex and can happen pretty quickly. Sometimes it can be over before we realise what it was. However these moments of connection (called by one psychologist, a micro-moment of positivity resonance) can happen all the time and with anyone.

Think about the last few days and your contact with people in real life, how many of those did you have? It might not have been a sexual or romantic thing at all, but maybe a shared joke, or a knowing look, or a hug/hansdshake/fistbump/high-five/kiss/snog with someone, a smile with a stranger. How did they feel when they happened (and I bet they did happen)?

It takes practice to notice them but the more you do the more you can have. There’s some evidence that you can actually increase your chances of having these moments by meditation. Learning some breathing exercises may help you not to panic when these moments happen and help you to ‘be in the moment’ and allow them to happen without you flinching and running away.

Work on your own self

I think that it’s a good idea to make sure that you have a healthy relationship with yourself before you look to have one with someone else too. Meditation can be a part of that, or also just learning to look after yourself as well as your friendships and relationships. Also it’s important to put yourself out there and allow yourself to have these moments. You can’t get them from sitting in your bed eating pringles (unless your sharing the tube with someone else). Meeting new people, talking and listening can be hard but with practice it can be easier.

However just having these little moments of connection with someone doesn’t mean you love them, or we’d all be in love all the time. Like I’ve said here, it’s not as simple as just biology and love and relationships are not something that ‘just happens’.

[*it means we can feel close and trusting of someone but also wary and distrusting. It turns the volume up on what is happening – so if you are into someone it helps you be really into them, if you’re not into someone it can do the opposite. Check this out for more by Ed Yong.]

© Justin Hancock, 2015


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