Some folks describe love as just a strong feeling. Perhaps you remember the long, slow-running eyes and fleeting fireworks of love you once felt. Losing that ability to sleep well or spending every waking moment consumed by thoughts of your own “honey rabbit.”
But, how can you know if what you’re feeling is true love or just pure lust. Well, it’s easier than you might think. You see, science has long since proven that most human desires are nothing more than desires originating in the brain. They are nothing more than chemical impulses masquerading as genuine feelings.
Take the “love hormone” for instance. The “love hormone” is a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that sends out “feedbacks” to the brain in order to let them know when the brain is receiving something rewarding. When you think about someone pleasing you or watching you succeed, it is possible that your dopamine levels will rise. When you think about someone trying to keep you from succeeding, then your dopamine levels will be correspondingly low.
But, how is this so? Simple really. This science is called neuro-linguistic programming. It shows that most of our attractions, desires and “feelings” are nothing more than neurological impulses sent out by our brain. In other words, we are walking around with a TV on, reading a book and even thinking about something while our brain is telling our body to move our limbs in a certain way. Pretty sweet isn’t it?
However, science doesn’t give us very much information on why our brains work this way. Scientists don’t know why some things make us feel good and others don’t. For instance, they don’t know why, if you go into a restaurant and have a bad experience, your brain will release chemicals associated with dopamine and oxytocin. Scientists have discovered that people with lower “reward chemicals” such as those found in smokers have higher levels of “love.” Now this may be due to the fact that smokers have less dopamine and oxytocin in their systems.
However, scientists aren’t sure whether these brain chemicals, namely dopamine and oxytocin, play a significant role in human love making. While it would seem obvious that they do, there are some major problems with this theory. First, our evidence for a relationship between dopamine and oxytocin in the brain is indirect at best. Second, there is so much conflicting evidence about these hormones and their effects on human behavior that there is no consensus. Scientists often come to different conclusions about whether or not they work. They rarely can agree.
That leaves scientists with the simple answer: “it doesn’t matter.” While it’s true that in the laboratory, when animals are put in a situation where they will be forced to respond to either positive or negative stimuli, they behave more like they would normally, they don’t exhibit any extra interest in either sex or do anything they wouldn’t normally do. So does this mean that there aren’t any relationships at all? Not necessarily.
In general, though, the science of love and lust has been more related to understanding what causes love and then attempting to understand the science behind why love happens. While there are obviously many factors that go into love and the actual reasons vary from person to person, there are certain basic components that most people agree are necessary for love to occur. The question is how do we identify what those basic components are and how can we make them happen in our relationships? Hopefully future science will figure out that puzzle.