Love is a powerful emotion that’s essential for human survival. It’s the reason why we forgive our partners when they’re late, commit to finishing a creative project, dream about getting a promotion so we can take our kids to Disneyland, or feel devastated when our favorite sports team loses.
Despite its many forms, all love shares one thing: a deep connection.
In the brain, passionate love causes a surge of activity in areas rich in dopamine — the same chemical that lights up during a rush of euphoria after taking cocaine. In addition, romantic love boosts activation in the ventral tegmental area, an ancient part of the brain associated with wanting and craving.
There are 3 distinct phases to falling in love: lust, attraction and attachment. These emotions are driven by our hormones, including testosterone (men) and oestrogen (women).
According to Dr Helen Fisher, a renowned anthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York state, love is an important human need that’s not only rooted in biology but also in social expectations.
When we fall in love with someone, it can affect our emotions, cognition and social bonding. It can make us more altruistic, Hekster says, and can lead to a deeper and longer-lasting relationship.
Ultimately, the best way to know what type of love you’re feeling is to just experience it. It’s the only thing that’s guaranteed to bring you true happiness.