The Science of Love: Why do I Have Butterflies?

17 Dec

The rush of falling in love is a feeling like no other, the racing heart and mind that gives you butterflies. So, what does happen to your body when you meet someone that you find attractive?

Couple dating on Valentine's day/ Gives her butterflies

You’ve got sweaty hands, butterflies in your tummy, and an increased heart rate –so are you waiting for an interview to begin, or are you falling in love?

Interestingly, it could be either, as the physiological response to falling in love is strikingly similar to when you’re placed in a stress-provoking situation. So what are these butterflies and what does happen in your body when you meet someone that you find attractive?

90 seconds –what could you get done in that time? It’s not even long enough to microwave popcorn, but studies suggest that it can take just 90 seconds to feel the butterflies of love. An American study conducted in 1997 suggests that the majority of this attraction development (55%) is down to the body language the other individual is using, as we’re prone to picking up body language that suggests other people like us and that there’s a mutual attraction present. 38% is then due to how they speak and only 7% is down to the actual conversation. So, if you’re worried about what to talk about when you initially meet someone perhaps it’s not that important after all! But if I were you I’d still stay clear of talking about previous relationships, at least for now…

Lust of love?

Following the initial stage of attraction, dopamine within the body signals the release of the sex hormone testosterone, which increases sexual desire. At this stage, the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol levels also increase, and alongside this neurotransmitters norepinephrine and phenylethylamine are released resulting in an increased fixation on the individual you’re attracted to, allowing you to focus more on them! There’s also a decrease in activity in the frontal and prefrontal cortexes within the brain causing less clarity in thought and a decrease in judgment; so, the saying being drunk in love may have some truth! This decreased activity causes more decisions to be based on emotions, leading to the feeling that you’re falling head over heels.

Miss you

These physiological bodily reactions arguably make us addicted to our partners –when they’re not around we crave them and want them to be present so we can experience the rush of dopamine that comes with it. Withdrawal symptoms can also be felt, for example with long-distance couples, due to the lack of hormones and neurotransmitters where there are larger periods between seeing each other. But, these physiological changes don’t continue to last forever, and it’s probably for the best that they don’t otherwise we’d have a national shortage of roses and boxes of chocolates! After around 6 to 12 months the bodily response stops, but by this time your mind and body have already been altered.

Keeping love alive

So how can we continue to keep love alive without this physiological response? Drum roll please for oxytocin. Oxytocin, otherwise known as the cuddle hormone, is released during physical contact and plays a very important role in keeping the feeling of love alive despite a drop in the other physiological responses. As oxytocin is released there are increases in the feelings of trust, security, and attachment overall making couples feel like more of a unit and allows them to still fall head over heels for each other just at a steadier rate.

Heart health

When you think of getting healthier it’s often thought more of in terms of stopping smoking or putting down the chocolate, being in love is not usually part of the equation. But, maybe it should be! Studies show that people in love live more healthily and are overall in better health. One particular study from Stanford in 2010 looked at married 40-year olds finding that they had stronger hearts than those who aren’t married. In fact, being in love has such a powerful impact on the body that studies have likened it to being like a painkiller and providing surprisingly effective pain relief!

Here at Maclynn International, we want to help you fall in love and experience the benefits that come with it. We work with clients using our unique approach combining psychological principles with our compatibility profiling and professional consultation and tailoring the service to their needs every step of the way. Allow us to find you someone to fall in love with, who can give you butterflies. Get in touch with our friendly team today.

by Gina Yannotta

Chief Operating Officer, New York City.

Gina Yannotta is Head Matchmaker & Chief Operating Officer at Maclynn International's New York office. Gina’s unyielding passion for the field, in combination with her extensive experience in matchmaking, has allowed her to orchestrate successful and everlasting relationships amongst her clients. Tasked with running the Manhattan office, Gina utilizes her interpersonal skills and relationship expertise to make a splash in the matchmaking pool, personally connecting her clients with their ultimate match while simultaneously taking advantage of the endless possibilities that NYC offers to its client-base.More by this author