In the pursuit of attempting to better understand romantic love in the context of biology, it would be effective to look into the actual neurological processes which occur in the human brain during the cellular level of the construction of the phenomenon of love.
The article titled “The Science of Love” on the website youramazingbrain.org offers an account of the various chemical compounds the body produces that scientists have correlated with the psychological effects that romantic love produces. This article specifically covers the various stages of love and which neurological chemicals affect each one and what this means to an individual as they go through the three stages of love.
By comparing the chemical compounds found in the three basic levels of love, the article provides biological insight into the study of romantic love.
The first step of love as defined by the article is lust, being dominated by testosterone and estrogen, including dopamine, to drive the sexual desires which develop in human beings. These compounds are released in response to basic human impulses when in the company of an individual that one finds attractive.
But what differentiates human beings from other creatures is the ability to find attraction in a mate, even leading to the concept of love itself and what this means on the cellular level. When the attraction phase begins, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin all combine to have profound effects on the relationships we as people are able to build with others and how these relationships can both be beneficial, and sometimes adverse, to our wellbeing.
Falling into attraction is a form of puppy love; researchers in Italy found that being smitten with a lover actually influences a person to behave differently than they normally would, explaining away faults and exemplifying any positive trait beyond its true scope. For the first time, scientists have been able to see the effect of love and its constituent compounds clearly alter the mindset of people and how they view their mate.
The last stage of love is attachment and longing, through releases in oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, and vasopressin, a chemical found in the study of prairie voles. Oxytocin acts as a deep bonding agent, providing the affectionate acts of cuddling and bonding that determine how close couples get to one another and inversely how much they feel comfortable around each other.
Oxytocin-The Cuddle Hormone
Love in this sense is attributed to feelings of longing and desire over long periods of time, which chemical compounds in the brain such as oxytocin and vasopressin directly control.
Ultimately romantic love arises from the very cellular components of our own brains, a fact one must not overlook when attempting to gain a better and more complete understanding of what love is.