How the Brain Responds to Love


Love is one of the most complex and universal emotions. It’s the subject of songs and poems, films and novels. Love is also an important part of most people’s daily lives, whether it’s loving their children, a pet, or a favorite sports team. And love isn’t just about romance; it can be a deep feeling of attachment and companionship that helps you through life’s rough patches.

But it can be hard to tell the difference between true love and lust. While both may have a similar physical attraction and intoxicating rush of feel-good chemicals, only one can last. True love is built over time, with commitment and mutual trust. And it often requires putting in the work, like listening to your partner and making them a priority in your life.

Researchers have found that when you fall in love, it activates parts of the brain that are associated with desire and motivation. MRI scans of those madly in love show activity in the caudate nucleus, which is involved in reward and craving, and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), associated with feelings of pleasure and focus.

While there are different theories of what love actually is, most psychologists agree that there are a few characteristics that are universal to all types of love. Love can be what drives you to forgive your partner for their flaws, finish a creative project, or support your child’s athletic career. Love can be the reason you want to get to know someone on a deeper level, or even why you are willing to suffer for your cause.