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A chemical romance: what makes us fall in love?

A chemical romance: what makes us fall in love?

Have you ever wondered what makes you get those nervous butterflies in your stomach every time you see the object of your affection? Or in those first jittery stages of any relationship, what causes you to believe that everything your bae does is funnier, smarter and more wonderful than anyone else in the world? In honour of this most romantic of occasions, Valentine's Day, we decided to investigate the science behind the seduction of falling in love.

How's that for chemistry?

They say to ignite the spark for any successful relationship, there needs to be chemistry. Little did we know they were referring to actual chemicals that are released into our bodies when we experience feelings of attraction and connection to another person. When you meet someone you think you could fall for, you're actually responding to chemicals in your body that are released to help you experience happiness, elation and desire.


The 3 stages of falling in love

According to the experts, the chemical rollercoaster that is falling in love can be outlined in three distinct stages. If you think you are imagining physical phenomenons such as shortness of breath and sweaty palms, think again! These are physical triggers signalling your entry into the love zone.

Stage 1: Lust

The desire to embark on a sexual encounter with someone is an evolutionary reaction to our sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which work to increase desire in both men and women. These desires were necessary for our prehistoric ancestors to procreate so the species wouldn't die out, with women experiencing elevated levels of estrogen during ovulation to increase their chances of producing offspring.

Couple of Lovers

Stage 2: Attraction

While lust is fun, it can be fleeting and the chemicals involved in the second stage of falling in love are even stronger. Anyone in this stage of romance can expect to experience physical sensations including loss of sleep or appetite' but it won't matter at the time, as they'll be floating on Cloud Nine. The chemical phenylethylamine (commonly known as PEA), is naturally released in our brains and can also be found in certain foods like chocolate (explains our addiction!) PEA is a stimulant, responsible for the head-over-heels sensation we encounter in the beginning when love is blossoming.

Among the chemical cocktail of Stage 2, your brain is also releasing other chemicals including dopamine and norepinephrine, to keep your palms sweating and your heart pounding.

Stage 3: Attachment

With commitment comes even more chemicals to help you remain connected. Who knew?! Officially known as 'the cuddle hormone' oxytocin is released by touch. This is mixed with a powerful combination of serotonin and endorphins, which are released when you start to build up a tolerance to the love stimulants (aka the gloss has worn off) experienced in the early stages of a relationship. This can take anywhere from 18 months to four years. Endorphins are powerful chemicals that work to manage anxiety, pain and stress, and are associated with feelings of comfort and attachment.

Loving couple.

From chemistry to commitment

So, from initial attraction to a possible trip down the aisle, the chemistry of love is a powerful force that cannot be ignored. It is celebrated, sensationalised and mourned. And according to many, is what makes this world go 'round.


Thanks to our friends at for the lowdown on love drugs. From all the team at PF, Happy Valentine's Day! X