the science of love

The Science of Love: How Neurotransmitters Influence Romantic Feelings

Love is one of the most confusing and complex emotions that humans experience. It can bring us great happiness but also intense pain. For centuries, people have tried to understand the science behind love and how it influences romantic feelings. In recent years, scientists have made significant progress in uncovering how neurotransmitters influence romantic feelings. The specialists at Foothills Neurology in Arizona review more about this topic below.

What Are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between neurons in the brain. They play a crucial role in our emotions, including love. There are several neurotransmitters that are involved in romantic feelings. The most common of these are also considered the “happy hormones,” namely, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. It is released when we experience something pleasurable, such as eating delicious food, winning a competition, or falling in love. In the context of romantic love, dopamine is released when we see or think about our loved ones. This surge of dopamine creates a feeling of euphoria, which is commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship.


Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that influences romantic feelings. It is involved in regulating mood and social behavior. When we fall in love, our serotonin levels decrease. This can lead to obsessive thoughts about our loved one, as well as a loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. This is why people often describe being in love as feeling “out of control.”


Oxytocin is a hormone that is often referred to as the “love hormone.” It is released during physical touch, such as hugging, kissing, or sexual activity. Oxytocin helps to strengthen the bond between two people, promoting feelings of trust and intimacy. It also forms a mother’s attachment to her newborn child.

Understanding the role of neurotransmitters in love can help us better understand our romantic feelings. It can also help us to develop healthier relationships. For example, knowing that the initial surge of dopamine during the honeymoon phase will eventually fade can help us prepare for the challenges that come with long-term relationships. Similarly, understanding oxytocin’s role can help us prioritize physical touch and intimacy in our relationships.

Neurotransmitters in Mental Health

Neurotransmitters also play a significant role in many mental health conditions and are often treated with medication when they function incorrectly. Serotonin is connected to many mood disorders like depression and OCD. Dopamine is linked to many anxiety disorders and addictions. Consequently, over- or under-producing these chemical messengers can also influence your romantic feelings and close relationships. When medications are insufficient to obtain the necessary balance, other measures are often combined, like cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Experienced Neurologists in Phoenix and Scottsdale

The science of love is complex and multifaceted. Neurotransmitters play a crucial role in romantic feelings, influencing everything from the initial surge of dopamine during the honeymoon phase to forming a strong bond through oxytocin. By understanding the science behind love, we can deepen our own relationships and promote greater emotional well-being.

Foothills Neurology, with clinics in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, has skilled and experienced neurologists who can help with numerous disorders and conditions affecting your well-being. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.


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