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The Science of Love What your bod does when your heart falls


couple sitting back to back in chairs, with

LOVE FEELS CRAZY, magical and amazing--and a big part of it is beyond your control. Here is what happens to your body when your heart falls in love.

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE... LUST
Even if you never, ever want to have children, your body is primed for that purpose. And whether you like it or not, your nose selects a partner who is compatible with you, genetically speaking, for creating healthy offspring. In one Swiss study, researchers had a group of men wear the same T-shirt for two nights. The clothing was then put in different boxes and women were asked to smell the shirts while rating the scent as sexy or not. When researchers checked the data, they found that all the women had chosen men (or their shirts) who had a different genetic makeup to theirs, thereby increasing the health of potential offspring.

I CAN'T EAT
That's because some people lose their appetite when they fall in love. Why?
 Your body's too busy prepping you for romance. "This can happen when the release of dopamine is triggered by falling in love," says Helen Fisher, biological anthropology professor and author of Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love. "Some people lose their appetites as a result."

I'M SO HAPPY, I COULD EXPLODE!
Blame it on the phenylethylamine (PEA). It's what keeps you feeling high for the first months of being with someone you've fallen in love with. It stimulates the release of norepinephrine and dopamine--the same substances released when you're excited for other reasons, like when you go bungee jumping or jet skiing, for example. If you want to top-up your supplies, eat some cheese or chocolate (both contain PEA), or do some hardcore exercise like sprinting--physical exertion is a cheap and easy way to get a PEA high.

THE EXCITEMENT'S GONE, BUT I'M STILL SO IN LOVE
After two years, scientists believe your body becomes accustomed to the raised levels of PEA and so doesn't respond to it in the same way. But the hormone to take its place is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone that's released when you hold hands, caress or snuggle each other--it's also the same stuff that's released by a woman when she has a baby--and it's potent.

WE ALMOST NEVER FIGHT. OUR RELATIONSHIP IS PERFECT
Thank oxytocin for this, too. The hormone makes you more amenable to an opposing opinion. According to a study undertaken at the University of Zurich, couples who were given a dose of oxytocin before being asked to discuss a conflict within their marriage were more likely to talk about it in a positive, friendly way. The moral of the story? Couples who cuddle together, stay together!