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What is love, baby don't hurt me... Chemistry of love

Steven Harmon
9/29/2014

     We all as a society view love as something that is from the heart, but the heart is really
just a muscular organ that pumps blood through vessels to provide nutrients and oxygen to
keep us alive, and remove toxins and waste from the body. So what does this weird organ
have anything to do with love? Well the human heart is in the chest which is where you have
noticeable effects of this “love” thing that includes stomach fluttering as well as heart
thumping, therefore people got the idea that love has something to do with our heart which is
partly true. This tongue tied, dry mouth, sweaty, nervousness we get when we see our crush
look our way is just a mixture of chemicals, thus the reason why people call it chemistry.
Love in itself is like a drug since people have it, and others really really really want it. People go to crazy lengths to get love, just like the lunatic druggies found on the side of Colfax do so for their fixes. Drugs are addictive from what I hear since they make you feel good, but whenever I look at a photo of someone I fancy I get a feel good release as well. Phenylethylamine as well as many other chemicals and organic compounds are responsible for what makes up love, but I'll get to the rest later. Phenylethylamine is an amine (A organic compound & functional group that contains a basic nitrogen atom with a lone pair: amino acids and biogenic amines such as Serotonin the neurotransmitter that plays a role in our attention, sleep, stress, and eating, or Dopamine another neurotransmitter that is involved in reward, addiction, behavior, and coordination.) So this elation from love from phenylethylamine makes you lose sleep, pay more attention to an individual, and have odd behavior around them? Sounds familiar, huh. Phenylethylamine is found in some foods like chocolate, and those foods happen to be things labeled as “aphrodisiac” which just elevates mood mimicking love. Fun fact, did you know that phenylethylamine is a stimulant quite similar to an amphetamine as in methamphetamine; I feel like there's a Breaking Bad Joke somewhere around here,haha.
     So now we can recognize that the chemicals concerned in love are practically identical
to the chemicals in someone's brain who is hooked on cocaine. Another chemical that is
released that contributes to the sweaty palms part of love is norepinephrine (PEA, part time
hormone and neurotransmitter), and one of the uptake modulators happens to be cocaine.
Forget love being “like a box of chocolates”, love is like a snort of cocaine. All jokes aside
Cocaine does releases tons of dopamine and disrupts the signals that your brain uses to
communicate which can lead to strokes and heart attacks from cardiac arrest, so its more
dangerous than love.
     The Mesolimbic Dopamine System not only helps us be aware of awards, but drives us toward them which makes us feel good; in short we get motivation, desire, and a crave from things we enjoy as a species like video games, pornography, drugs, rock and roll, learning, and last but not least love. We as a species and many other species want to survive, and we do this through love, reproduction, offspring that have likable qualities in order for us to grow attached and protect in order to secure our genes, but wait there is more! Lust and love are two different things, but they usually follow suit with each other. You can tell if someone is in love with another by where they are looking, so if they are looking in your eyes its a good sign of love, but when they're looking at your butt its a different story. Testosterone is the hormone in men and women that influences sex drive to procreate, but again Lust in my eyes is not love, so lets not get too much into the biology since this
paper is about chemistry.
     Oxytocin, now that’s where the real love is or at least some of it; its produced in the
hypothalamus, then released into blood through the pituitary gland as well as other parts of
the brain when we hug and or kiss a loved one. Oxytocin is the opposite of the “fight or flight”
response in a sense, because its more of a “befriend and care for” response, for example in
volume 52, Issue 2 some prairie voles were injected with Oxycontin within a day of birth and
those who had higher levels of it approached and cared more for their pups. Its a really nice
experiment, and I'm a little sad I couldn't afford to buy it and read the full article, only the
abstract. Oxytocin is quite nice, because it feels really good when I receive a nice long hug
and embrace from a friend or just anyone for that matter, because I know they care. Another
thing that interests me is the fact that Oxytocin spikes during childbirth a most painful, and
traumatic experience for women, but those pain centers in the brain get a little numb and all
the pleasure centers are more sensitive to being triggered than usual, which in layman’s
terms means we feel better than usual when in love, invincible, and romanticize everything
around us to create a sense of euphoria. It also is a two way street, because those who don't
make much if any physical contact with people may get depressed which is from a lack of
Serotonin, that feel good chemical I mentioned earlier, but then again depression also
depends on the size of the hippocampus which is the brains hub for memory and emotion, so
when someone is happy through Dopamine and Serotonin brain cells grow much faster which
is great for neurogenisis which makes everyone feel better! Give people hugs, because
Oxytocin is referred to as “the cuddling hormone”.
     In addition to cuddling hormones and feel good chemicals, endorphins play a major
role after the falling in love to the in love component of love. So once your body starts
acquiring a tolerance to these love stimulants it starts to release these endorphins
(Neurotransmitters, chemicals with signals that transfer from neurons that make you have
feelings of comfort as well as attachment), and they are produced by the central nervous
system as well as the pituitary gland. Remember me mentioning the hypothalamus that region
in the brain that handles the emotional stuff, well the limbic system in your brain has a lot of
opioid receptors, and when these endorphins reach them you feel content. Now if you don't
have those endorphins mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder when you
don't have those signals that let you able to be content with something as simple as cleaning
your room. Endorphins can cause rage and anxiety, but also stress relief on the flip side.
These endorphins can be caused through activities such as meditation, yoga, childbirth,
exercise, and other romantic activities.
     Speaking of obsessive compulsive disorder... people in early stages of love have lower
levels of serotonin which only means they are obsessive over that special someone which is
the dopamine goal related behavior which puts your partner above anyone else on your love
hierarchy, this is also known as having a “Bae” as most of my peers say. Its funny, but hey the
only way you can truly understand something is to relate it to what you already know. This
obsessive behavior results in daydreaming, being lost in the selected person's features for
long periods of time, and sexual fantasies for example, the wet dream.
So how about that butt sniffing, eh? Ok, that was a tad weird for an introductory
sentence, but hey this paper comes from the heart, or the mind, whatever; what I'm getting at
its the love at first sight thing comes from pheromones, instinctual behavior, the option of fight
or flight.
     I guess I'll delve into the instinctual behavior part first, because I already have quite a
bit of past information from a discussion last year from Ms. Hann about love languages and
semiotics through the body from showing an open neck by a hair flip to entrust that person to
not bite out your jugular and kill you, framing your crotch when standing to insinuate
reproduction, crossing your legs to protect your sperm/eggs, and many more which after
knowing reduces everyone around you to apes. Its an interesting way to look at the human
race through signs of love.
     Apparently tears according to Sarah Everts article is the turn off scent, but sweat of
people whom are a compatible sexual orientation act like an invitation much like how a baby
moves toward the scent of breasts for nourishment, someone keeping a handkerchief or
piece of clothing of a partner nearby, or a dog sniffing another dogs behind.
     Next I'll get to my personal debacle with fight or flight, because fight is to go up to your
desired mate and kiss him/her, tell them you like them, set up a date, and run the risk of
humiliation and rejection. I've been tricked by evolution! Since most if not all my past romantic
trials ended up in failure, humiliation, and rejection I've protected myself by just being passive
about my romantic desires and dreams which is in itself flight. Fight or flight, the more you
choose one of the two the more likely you are to choose it again since it works. Flight got me
progress in my work and academics, but left a little bit of myself empty. These are all those
chemicals, hormones, connections, and pheromones doing what they do. Perhaps this year,
or the next I'll try again at the dating game, but in the meantime I'm stuck writing a 5 page
paper for Chemistry, haha. I joke, because I'm uncomfortable as does everyone else.
     There are still some unanswered questions when it comes to the pheromone that
would directly result in an individual automatically being attracted to a certain someone else,
how to distinguish heterosexual and homosexual sweat, and why nobody gets enough
funding in the world of science to come to a conclusion on the science of love for anyone to
attract the mate of their choice in something like a seven step sure fire plan, but that’s love for
you. Even though math and science are mostly concrete in their understandings on what
makes a human I believe that there will always be the unknown, free will apart from genetics,
sparks, chemical reactions, and miracles that cant possibly be explained with anything but art.
Apart from all these influencing factors to what love is in chemistry, it can be as simple as
knowing someone with desirable traits in your eyes. Gotta love science!

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Comments

  1. P.S sorry for the crappy formatting, I just copied and pasted it from a paper I wrote in chemistry that I though you cheeky scrubs would enjoy!

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