Love is a mix of emotions, behaviors and beliefs associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth and respect for another person. It can be felt towards family members, close friends or romantic partners.
The Evolutionary Roots of Love
Scientists believe that love is rooted in survival. Children feel a strong connection with their parents or caretakers, and these relationships can be a big advantage for survival, especially when kids are young.
During childhood, these family or caretakers help teach children about the world and how to survive. They also show them how to be safe and treat others with dignity.
Studies have shown that people who are able to form long-term pair bonds tend to have higher levels of oxytocin, the hormone that promotes bonding and is released during childbirth, breastfeeding and orgasms.
In addition, when someone is in love, the brain releases dopamine, which stimulates a feeling of euphoria and increases desire for the object of the affection, as seen in those who have a crush.
When we’re in love, parts of our brain responsible for making decisions and detecting danger (the frontal lobe) go into temporary hibernation.
This can make it hard to recognize red flags and decide what is and isn’t safe to do. In addition, we may also find ourselves making sacrifices in our daily lives for our partners. It could mean a change in lifestyle, like moving to a new city or country.