There is perhaps no more exhilarating, life-changing feeling than falling in love. But love isn't limited to a frivolous emotional high - there are actual physiological changes happening in your body; consider it the science of falling in love.
While love has been the subject of countless works of art and the driving force behind most of our lives - not to mention its impact on the history of the world - what happens to your body when you fall in love is rarely talked about. Love isn't just a fleeting euphoria, and it isn't all in your head, either. Your body - your whole body - is responding to a timeless, universal feeling, a mystery that is only ever fully understood by the individuals who are caught up in its throes. But we can understand love on a physical, bodily level, even if we may never grasp its emotional inscrutabilities and idiosyncrasies. What falling in love does to the body just further demonstrates that love really is a mighty power.
Love Is Basically A Drug Addiction
From a strictly biochemical viewpoint, love is essentially processed by the brain in the same way as drug addiction. Dopamine and oxytocin are two of the biggest feel-good chemicals released by the brain, and they flood our bodies when we fall in love. These chemicals are not discharged willy-nilly, nor are they discharged all at once. At different times in your attraction to the other person, different chemicals are released at different levels. So, you are gradually experiencing more and more euphoric feelings the more time you spend with your love, creating a deep attachment to both the feeling and the object of the feeling. Much like drug addiction.
Your Heart Physically Races
While it is of course the universal symbol of love, the heart is also having a very literal, physiological experience when you fall in love. A racing heart is one of the first things many people notice when they are developing the warm-fuzzies for someone special. And there is a biological basis for this. Adrenaline and norepinephrine released by the brain instigate the primal fight-or-flight response. This is what gives us typical anxiety symptoms like racing hearts and sweaty palms. Love encourages adrenaline and norepinephrine release, so that may not be anxiety you're feeling. You might be in love.
You Get Tongue-Tied
Norepinephrine is also likely behind that awkward, antsy, butterflies-in-the-belly feeling that accompanies falling in love. And with awkwardness and antsyness often come an inability to get words out clearly and correctly. Sometimes, just the sight of the other person is enough for our brains to let out a good dose of norepinephrine, getting us flustered and tying our tongues. It's all part of the anxiety response.
You Feel Sick
The term lovesick is thrown around a lot, but can you really be sick with love? In a way, yes. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released in anxiety-provoking situations, and the introduction of a new love into your life surely comes with a fair share of anxiety. Cortisol can have a bearing on appetite, making the blood vessels in the stomach tighten and sending blood away from the abdomen. When your appetite goes, it's not uncommon to feel sick to your stomach.