Chocolate Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

What is love, actually? What is the basis of the giddy, walking-on-air feelings we experience when we fall in love? Recent advances in science may reveal the answer.

The initial feelings of love don’t have much to do with romance, but instead have more to do with functions of the brain. Information between brain neurons is communicated by the movement of certain chemicals—neurotransmitters—across areas of the brain. When we begin to fall in love, the “high” we experience is the result of the release of these neurotransmitters.

When two people are attracted to one another, the brain becomes flooded with a gush of neurotransmitters that mimic amphetamines (commonly referred to as “uppers”). The neurotransmitter culprits are dopamine, which makes us feel good, norepinephrine, which causes pounding hearts and racing pulses, and PEA (phenylethylamine), which causes feelings of excitement and euphoria.  (Did you know that, because chocolate has PEA, it has long been rumored to promote passionate love between lovers?)

The neurotransmitters then signal the pituitary gland (located in the region of the brain known as the hypothalamus) to release a multitude of hormones that rapidly flood the bloodstream. The sex glands, in turn, release even more hormones into the bloodstream.

It’s the combination of the flood of neurotransmitters in the brain and the subsequent release of the hormones into the bloodstream that allow new lovers to make love all night or talk for hours on end.

When these chemicals are produced over a period of time, people interpret the physical sensations as “falling in love.”

Love, actually, is a cocktail of neurochemicals. Who knew?!

Source: Welch, Kelly (2010). Family Life Now.

Photo Credit: Verity Walsh (


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