"What's Love Got To Do With It?" a song made popular by Tina Turner about the confusion and pain in this “second hand emotion;” love. In her sultry voice she sang “it’s physical” and “logical” and that we “must try to ignore that it means more than that”. (ready to break into the chorus?) Wait. . . because Tina was only partially right.
Love is physical. Current science can explain the physical, chemical reactions that occur within us that help us fall in love and maintain loving relationships. Love has been broken down into three distinct physical stages.
First comes lust (that early “oh so hot”) stage that is driven by the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone in both men and women.
Then comes attraction when your heart races and your face flushes in the presence of your new love. At work here are the the neurotransmitters adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. In this stage you might feel a burst of energy, excitement and overall well-being.
And then comes attachment or the bond that keeps couples together. Scientists believe the two major hormones involved in deepening and maintaining loving relationships are oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones are released during and after physical love contributing to a feeling of emotional closeness. In theory, the more sex partners have (together), the more oxytocin and vasopressin is released and the stronger the feelings of emotional attachment partners have for one another.
Love in these three stages is “physical”. Love in it’s most basic beginnings is a set of physical chemical reactions. But the love we desire, that deep bond of attachment, happens through our interactions in loving relationships. When two adults meet and fall in love they bring into their relationship life lessons of attachment learned through nature, nurture and the layering of previous life experiences. As partners experience life together, these past lessons effect their interactions with one another.
John Bowlby, an early attachment theorist and psychiatrist suggested that in relationship, we all behave in one of the following three distinct ways:
Anxious Attachment ~ tendency to worry about relationships and being loved
Avoidant Attachment ~ values independence and avoids closeness
Secure Attachment ~ loving and comfortable with intimacy
Love is a “sweet old fashion notion” that is biologically based and strengthened (or not) through our experiences in our current relationship. Understanding the chemistry of love, your own attachment type and your partner’s type can help you strengthen the loving bonds between the two of you.
Nannette is a mother, wife, daughter, friend, psychotherapist and blog writer. She is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and works with individuals, couples and families in her private psychotherapy practice located in Kennebunk, Maine. Nannette is thankful to have loving relationships of her own. Nannette appreciates your thoughts and comments and hopes you’ll look for additional Healthy&Whole blogs on her website
Photo & Image credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Loving Heart Stock Image courtesy of digitalart; Beautiful Woman Kisses Her Husband courtesy of David Castillo Dominici; Loving Elder Couple courtesy of Ambro