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It is the muse of the romantic, the inspiration of the artist. It is the subject of countless movies and books. Associated with happiness and beauty, it is a thing of wonder, a small sort of magic that defies definition. What is this abstraction? Love: something of a sacred concept beyond the cold, clinical grip of scientific explanation. No amount of research in a sterile lab, and no amount of dissection can ever hope to discover the elements that make up the feeling one holds for a significant other.

Except that it can, and pretty efficiently at that.

A great deal of chemicals go into the process that is colloquially known as "falling in love," but for the sake of brevity, I'll only list the most important of the dozen. Note that all of the following information is taken from this live link

"Love" cannot be categorized with any degree of accuracy if it is not broken down into the following steps: lust, attraction and attachment. A simple species as we are, our hearts are largely controlled by the dual hormones of testosterone and estrogen. This is our lust.

Surges of the aforementioned chemicals decide whether or not we pursue a potential partner, which brings us to the stage of 'attraction'. The starring chemical here is dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter that is responsible for the pleasure we feel from doing certain things (like each other, for example). More platonically, it is released when learning those sweet little details about another person you're interested in. The chemical norepinephrine is also part of the attraction stage, and mostly serves to motivate.

The final stage of love is attachment, often sought and avoided in equal measure. Two imposters are responsible for perpetuating long-term relationships: oxytocin (released after sexual intercourse) and vasopressin. They both serve to strengthen ponds between partners and maintain said bonds long enough to yield/raise children.

In conclusion, the mystery that is "love" is hardly a mystery at all. There is no step that hasn't been mercilessly scrutinized.

Perhaps love might've been better kept an undiscovered land? Somewhere along the way, in all of our well-intentioned parsing and labeling, we lost something fundamental. We've jarred another fairy, so to speak. Our knowledge has become detachment. It has become, regrettably, dehumanizing.  

Here is a cheery video summarizing this post.

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1 Comment

Obviously there are "stages" in love but I also believe that love is an understanding between two people. You love each other for who you are. You find flaws but you learn to accept them. Love is wanting to treat someone with kindness because you care about how they perceive you. I disagree when you said "love" is hardly a mystery at all because to the definition of love is different to every single person. Yes, lust, attraction, and attachment are a part of "being in love" but I think that true love is more than just going through the stages. Its forever.

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