Psychology, sociology and chemistry all play big parts in that special feeling.
By Wally Perez
Imagine talking to someone attractive; the heart may race, palms may sweat, a sense of nervousness and a warm fuzzy feeling may occur in your chest.
This may seem like the generic feeling of emotion when people meet that special someone, but there’s more to it than that.
There are different factors that cause these feelings or sensations psychologically and chemically.
Some say it was love at first sight, or they just knew they met the right person.
Psychology adjunct Pamela Hill has taught human sexuality at this college for six years and said love is quite the mystery.
“There is not a single set definition of love; we often think of romance, passion or a longing when we think of it,” Hill said. “What some people may not realize is that love can exist without these ideas.”
The idea of passion and romance can usually be seen with young couples, while intimacy and commitment are seen with older mature couples, she said.
Hill said attraction is the first step in the journey of love.
There are four principles that contribute to the initial stage of attraction.
“First, people are usually attracted to someone they see every week,” Hill said. “Someone like a coworker or a classmate are common persons of interest.”
Next, similar socioeconomic class, age, nationality, political/ethical views and other factors also contribute to what people look for when they’re attracted to someone, she said.
Physical attraction is another key part of attraction; it’s said that men and women actually rate physical attraction as the No. 1 factor when looking for a partner, she said.
“Body chemistry is the final step in attraction; this includes that feeling of a spark between two people which our hormones are responsible for,” Hill said.
Once these connections have been made and both parties agree to, they can move on and build a relationship from there if desired, she said.
The happy, warm feeling that people think of is also not always the case.
There is a drastic change and depiction of what love is and why it’s there when social behaviors are brought up in the conversation.
Brittany Chozinski, sociology professor at Northeast Lakeview, said that we would never fall in love if we had never heard of it.
“We believe these ‘fairy tale’ narratives exist in life because we’ve read stories that depict and idealize true love,” Chozinski said.
“Take Romeo and Juliet for example — it’s a story about two teenagers who have a four-day relationship and are responsible for six deaths, yet we think of this as an iconic love story; you have to be told a love story before you can believe in it.”
People also tend to think of love as a sort of social glue; it can be a means of holding our social lives together, she said.
“Social contexts of which people are raised in also contribute to emotions; if you grow up in a caring family, chances are you’ll grow up to be a caring person and vice versa,” Chozinski said.
Chemistry Professor Usha Krishnan found the connection of love and science to be interesting.
“When you think about love, you sometimes meet people who say it was love at first sight, or that they just knew that they met the right person,” Krishnan said.
“When you get that sensation or that feeling of anxiety, or that fast-paced heartbeat, what’s actually happening is that there are a cocktail of chemicals being released in your brain.”
These chemicals are neurotransmitters. These are chemicals in the brain that communicate information throughout our brain and body.
There are many hormones that create the sensation of love. Chemicals that contribute to these feelings include dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, endorphins and serotonin, which are referred to as “feel good” chemicals, she said.
“The same kind of chemicals are found when a person is addicted to something like drugs,” Krishnan said. “In a sense, addiction is related to the feeling of love.”
It also explains the feelings of sorrow or depression when there is a breakup in a relationship. These painful feelings are similar to the feeling of an addict going through withdrawal symptoms, she said.
Although the topic was not something Krishnan had thought about, she believes it’s intriguing.
“Usually, when you talk about science, it’s more along the lines of something that can be measured or being able to conduct proof for something,” Krishnan said.
“Maybe one day we can find the right person just by measuring the right amount of a certain chemical.”