What is love? Love is a general set of behaviors and emotions characterized by intense intimacy, intense passion, commitment, and emotional care. It involves emotional bonding, love, protection, intimacy, adoration, caring, concern, and sharing.
People fall in love when they are exposed to attractive or sexually attractive partners. People respond to the same stimuli that produce feelings of love in humans. Oxytocin, a chemical produced in the brain, may play a role in our response to sexual stimuli and attraction. The levels of oxytocin released in response to sexual arousal and affection appear to peak during the part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. When this part of the brain is activated it produces a flood of hormones including dopamine and serotonin. These hormones combine to trigger a physiological and behavioral response that causes people to experience love.
Another possible source of oxytocin may be related to maternal love and attachment. Mothers generally spend more time caring for their children than non-mothers. They also tend to spend more time on emotional bonding with their children than non-mothers do. Oxytocin, which is present in the mother’s breast milk, has been shown to be related to maternal love and attachment in laboratory experiments. It appears to be associated with positive emotions such as trust and affection when the mother is involved in a nurturing behavior.
In humans, lust has typically been defined as a desire to have sex with another person. In animals, however, lust has typically been associated with mate selection and aggression. One could argue that love may be an extension of lust; however, that would explain why love may also be related to sexual attraction but is not always acted upon or produced as a result of it. It also explains why one person may fall in love with another person and still remain single, while another person who is in love may pursue love and romance with another person regularly. If you are in love with someone and begin to desire having sex with that person or a person of the opposite sex, that does not necessarily mean that you are in love.
Some researchers believe that “love” is actually comprised of three basic types of emotions: two types that are instinctive, which are associated with feelings like anger or lust, as well as one type that is rational and not associated with any emotion. While scientists are still unsure about the third type of emotion, they believe that it exists and is activated by a certain amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is present in the brain and in the human brain in sufficient quantities to trigger feelings of pleasure. It is believed that the feelings that accompany “love” are the result of feelings of pleasure that are caused by dopamine flooding the brain.
People who are in long-term relationships appear to have higher levels of dopamine compared to single individuals. It is believed that this occurs because the feelings of love and lust are felt more intensely when it involves another individual, as well as being associated with physical intimacy. While there is a lot of research on the subject, it is unclear as to whether or not dopamine plays a role in attraction, lust, infatuation or relationships. However, the rise in dopamine levels that occur during long-term romantic relationships has been linked with an increase in personal well-being as well as an increased sense of happiness.