Many strange things love does to your brain and body.
For some people, love can be used to describe almost anything. OMG, I love this iced latte! This sweater is amazing, I love it. But, what about romantic relationships? For couples in long-term relationships, love means loyalty and commitment but for college students in the center of their first real relationship, love may feel messy and complicated. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the spectrum, whether your love life is blissful or nonexistent, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion on love and what it means in a healthy relationship.
Love is Commitment
“The key to success in a healthy relationship with someone is actually the terrifying but necessary effort of commitment. Being there for someone is what a real relationship needs. When we neglect to put in the effort is when things don’t work out with someone that could have been perfect for us. If you put in that extra effort for someone that can reciprocate it, love can be the greatest feeling one can ever feel.”
– Adam B.
Love may not be a drug, but it can certainly feel like one
.Being in love floods our brains with chemicals that can induce feelings of everything from pleasure to intense focus and attachment.
Love is Equality
“A healthy relationship, in my eyes, is when two people are equal in a relationship. We equally love, we equally respect, and we equally care.”
– Amber H.
But being in love isn’t all in our heads: these chemicals can cause reactions throughout the body, which might help explain that tingly-all-over feeling we get when we see a loved one or the “high” we feel after we’ve met that special someone.
Love is Security
“For me, love is the most secure feeling. Love is having a companion, best friend, lover, partner, sounding board, cheerleader, advisor, and cuddle buddy through every avenue in the journey of life.”
– Ash D.
Take a look at how love affects our brains and bodies: Being swept up in the initial stages of a loving relationship can make you feel euphoric, and there’s a good reason for it.
Love is Knowing Your S.O.’s Love Language
“Loving better comes from knowing what makes the other person happy. For him its back scratches and hugs. For me, it’s a verbal “I appreciate you” or “You look pretty.” No matter what it is, we’ve learned to love each other better because we know what makes each other happy, and we make the effort to find new ways to make each other happy.”
– Vanessa S.
Research has shown a link between strong feelings of love and increased levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which tells us rewards are ahead. The same chemical gets released in response to other sources of pleasure too, which explains the “high” feeling new lovers often experience.
Love is Indescribable – “Love is a sentiment not able to be characterized by words.”
– Kurt S.
Just seeing images of a loved one may help mask feelings of pain. A small recent study found that when people were touched with a hot probe, their pain decreased more when they were shown photos of loved ones than it did when they were simply distracted by being asked to do another task. Pairs of unacquainted, opposite-sex undergrads spent two minutes at each of the following tasks for a recent study.
Love is Respect
“To me, a healthy relationship is built on respect for one another. Each person understands the commitment they are making to the other person.”
– Skylar M.
Gazing at their partner’s eyes, 2. Gazing at their partner’s hands 3. Counting how many times their partner blinked. When both pairs locked eyes, they were far more likely to report feelings of affection than when they were doing any other task.
Love is About Give-and-Take
“Completely opening up and sharing your feelings and life with them daily, that’s what constitutes a healthy relationship. But, it must be mutual. If a particular area is lacking on either side of the relationship, it makes it unideal and unhealthy.”
– Dylan P.
The quick release of adrenaline we experience when we see the object of our affection can also make us blush. This hormone can make our blood vessels dilate, improving the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body but also (unfortunately) turning our faces a telltale pink.
Love is Being In-Sync
“A healthy relationship could describe a plethora of different types of relationships, but the most important aspect of being in a relationship is being in-sync. Whether you both talk through every hour of your waking day, or whether you agree that you’re both busy and you’ll just talk on the phone at the end of every day, as long as you both are in agreement, that is what’s important.”
– Zane P.
Married people who took part in one large study were significantly less likely than singles to have heart attacks, regardless of their age.
Love is Patience
We aren’t always going to agree. Testing each other’s patience and still coming home to love, kindness, and respect is a feeling I never want to disappear.”
– Preston N.
Love alone, of course, may not have been the protective variable at work here: Married people are also significantly less likely than feelings of lust flood our bodies with the hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine, which can make our hearts race, our palms sweat, and our heads spin.
Love is Vulnerability
“Because love is scary, it’s basically giving someone a map of all your flaws and imperfections and putting faith in them to not abuse that power. And that can be so beautiful; it makes you do the hardest thing a human could ever do, be vulnerable.”
– Alex G.
A recent study lends some practical credence to this — when more than 700 people were asked to color in the parts of a body where they felt activity when they saw images and words linked with love, most people colored the entire body, especially the chest, stomach, and head. ngles to smoke, and perhaps less likely to engage in other unhealthy habits as well.
Love is “Growing Together”
“Things won’t always be great. Your partner may do things that will make you angry, but if you are willing to not look at it as obstacles, but rather as opportunities for growth, then you are truly in love.”
– Jared B.