The word 'love' brings within us a feeling which can be difficult to explain in simple terms. Just a four letter word can mean different in different contexts. A simple infatuation can make a person feel on cloud 9 while a mature commitment for a relationship can set a person to strive hard to achieve a definite goal (good or bad!). In short or long, it is a feeling of experience of a person for another person.
When cupid's arrow strucks the psyche, the chemistry inside human body takes a new turn. A play of different hormones starts. Amphetamine like hormones such as pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin stimulate pleasure center of brain with its side effects like increased heart rate, loss of appetite and loss of sleep. This stage can last from a year and a half to three years. Long term relationships have higher levels of oxytocin and vasopressin compared to short term ones. Excess release of vasopressin or 'monogamy chemical' is responsible for sticking to one mate. Adrenaline will make you loving someone and endorphins lead to liking for the person. Dopamine gives the sense of pleasure. When love is at first sight, nerve growth factor (NGF) increases and comes back to normal levels after a year. These changes are abrupt in males than females.
Brain scans of those in love have shown similarity to those with mental illness. There is increased blood flow in high dopamine receptor areas of brain which causes euphoria, craving, addiction. The feeling of love stimulates the same area of brain as hunger, thirst, craving for drug. New love therefore pertains to physical attraction. With passage of time this acute reaction converts to activate more and more areas of brain, evolving into long term relationships.
Levels of serotonin are decreased in people who have fallen in love. This is a similar condition found in people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorders, leaving person obsessed about their partner.
The release of natural chemical phenyethylamine is triggered from brain when one looks into the eyes of someone 'special', its overdose leads to weak knees, sweaty palms. It is popularly known as the 'love molecule.' Chocolates contain the same chemical, simple reason to gift a valentine!
Recent study exploring relationship defining memories (i.e. the first time someone saw their spouse) across adulthood, showed that individuals over 70 and those younger than 30 rehearsed relationship-defining memories most often. Women in midlife also reported more vivid memories. The quality of relationship-defining memories also predicted marital satisfaction. Relationship-defining memories that were more vivid, positive, emotionally intense, and rehearsed related to higher marital satisfaction irrespective of age and gender.