Science Tuesday: Lust Before Love

By Sanah Faroke
@sanahfaroke

More often, we notice people holding hands as they walk down Newbury Street or sneak kisses while waiting for the T. Either you’re disgusted by it or you’re the one snogging up a storm. We didn’t see it coming, but Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and just like that, love sneaked up on us.

It was that spark that started it all, right? Both of your favorite foods are sandwiches? He saw your blue eyes and it reminded him of the ocean. The list goes on and on

I hate to break it to you sweetheart, but love doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, and it actually has more to do with your brain than your heart.

Those feelings of fluttering butterflies in your belly could be love (or that you ate too many cookies). It’s a little depressing, I know – especially for me because I really like those Girl Scout cookies – but the science behind love works in our favor. According to Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, there are three stages of falling in love: lust, attraction and attachment.

I’m not gonna lie, one of the best parts of the Super Bowl was the ad where David Beckham takes off his shirt and runs around. Why is he running? Who knows? But let me tell you – no one is complaining. Sex hormones aren’t limited to just men. These hormones are a main component for a woman’s sex drive, which create our lust factor for David Beckham and his sculpted figure.

Then comes the phase where you can eat, sleep, think and talk about involving this other significantly amazing person. This is also the phase where your roommates will probably want to tape your mouth closed. In other words you’re on basically cloud nine.

Well, come back to reality for a bit because neuro-transmitters called ‘monoamines’ are the reason why you’re on this high. They’re practically like drugs that your brain produces. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all chemicals that create the whole love-stuck experience. Dopamine is also activated by cocaine or nicotine. Norepinephrine is basically adrenalin which causes our hearts to race and serotonin is one of the most important chemicals in love — it’s the one that drives you bonkers.

After you’ve both decided that you like one another, it’s time to have “the talk.”

Let’s talk about ‘us.’ What are we doing? Can I change my Facebook status? Actually, don’t ask that one even though you want to define the relationship because, well, you’re finally attached. You want the commitment of the other person for fear that they’ll find someone else. It’s all because of two hormones released by the nervous system.

Oxytocin creates the strong bond and also is released when two people have sex, which is why people swear that the more sex you have, the deeper the relationship is (but remember, it’s just a theory)! Vasopressin, another chemical, is released after sex and is said to create a bond. A word to the wise, don’t go around sharing your Oxytocin with just anyone!

While you’re in your 20s, don’t feel too ashamed to still be in that awkward phase of coffee dates and not knowing what your “type” is.

So how much chemistry do you really have with that gorgeous person you see around campus? Did you look at him by accident? Did he stare back? Did you both smile at each other but nothing happened? Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so step it up! Who knows when the next straight one is going to come along.

And just in case things don’t go as planned, there’s always Ben and Jerry’s.

But, on a positive note, always remember — love never goes as planned. Just look at Amy and Sheldon’s relationship on “The Big Bang Theory.” There’s a weird (lack of) sexual tension from misguided dirty talk, yet, I’m in love with them. As soon as you find your lust factor, there are only two steps left to love anyways, right? Go get ‘em tiger.

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