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The Psychology of Love

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When love and attraction are brought up, many people have that certain someone pop up in their mind. Everyone has someone they find attractive, from celebrities to someone at their work place or school, to obviously their significant other, because love is a very common emotion. So why are you so googly-eyed over those big brown eyes, smooth hair and huge smile? Thanks to psychology, we have answers on why your heart flutters when they are in your vision. Love is a very complicated topic, some believe. Well, those people aren’t wrong with that belief. Did you know love isn’t just one big idea? There are two different types of love, according to Elaine Hatfield, an American social psychologist who puts most of her attention into the science behind love and attraction. One of these types of love is passionate love. Passionate love refers to an aroused state of intense positive absorption.” (Exploring Psychology by David G. Myers page 559) and is often labeled “crush”, “puppy love”, or “being-in-love”. It is an emotional love, and is mainly expressed physically. This love is usually present at the beginning of a relationship. Hatfield described passionate love as “A state of intense longing for union with another.” (Verywell.com). Passionate love explains all those intense and sexual feelings you’re having about that special someone. The second type of love is companionate love, or “true love”. This is when you are feeling a deep affectionate of attachment, intimacy, and commitment. It is often found in long-term relationships and has fewer ups and downs than passionate love. Also, it is more stable and involves a deeper respect. Social psychologists think of it as “passionate love that has settled to a warm enduring love between partners.”(boundless.com). The affection and commitment is still there even when the passion may have faded, which it tends to do. Now you may be thinking, what about romantic love? You know, what you see in “The Notebook” and “Titanic”. Romantic love is the combination of passion and intimacy, but it is not supported with commitment. “Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti, he’s nervous but on the surface he looks calm and ready..” are pretty realistic lyrics by Eminem that sound like what we do when we run into that hottie in the halls. Don’t lie to yourself, you get sweaty palms and a rush of energy throughout your body when you see that person. It’s pretty and annoying, don’t you agree? You can blame your increase of blood pressure and adrenaline. Adrenaline is an addicting feeling for some, so it makes perfect sense why it works together with another chemical released in our brains when we are in love, and that is dopamine. Dopamine stimulates the desire and reward system by triggering an intense rush of feelings of pleasure and anxiousness, or adrenaline. It has the same affect on your brain as drugs, so we are literally high on love. Munchies are one thing we don’t get while being love struck though, instead we actually have less need for food, according to psychologist Helen Fisher. Fisher says our mind is so focused on increased energy from the dopamine that we often do not think of sleep and food, instead we are focusing our energy on the “exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship.” (the science of love.com). It makes perfect sense now why Blink-182 says, “you make me nervous so I really can’t eat” in their song “First Date”. The last, but definitely not least, chemical released that leaves us with embarrassing moments in our brain is serotonin. This is why you are constantly thinking of him/her, all the time, in class, at home, when you’re bored in spanish class. “Why won’t he text back?”, “He looked so hot at lunch today, his shirt made his muscles look great”, “I wonder if she likes me back.”, you know, all those thoughts and maybe more. But thanks to oxytocin, we can finally calm down and experience those warm and fuzzy “butterfly” feelings. Oxytocin lets us know that being in love isn’t that bad at all, it’s comforting. Speaking of comforting, cuddling is the absolute best. Makes sense why oxytocin is also known as “the cuddle hormone”. Finally! The part you (me) have been waiting for. Why are you attracted to that person? MANY factors influence this. Research shows that our choices in partners are mainly influenced by their physical attractiveness. No duh there. The first part of a person you see is their beautiful smile or their big bright eyes and shiny amazing hair. Psychical features are the first things we see of people. This plays into what is called, the matching hypothesis, which says that people tend to pick a partner who are equal in the level of physical attractiveness as them. Sounds a bit selfish, but it’s sort of true. And of course, we also tend to choose someone who is just like us. Similarity matters in relationships, whether it’s age, race, religion, social class, personality, attitude, etc. Explains why many partners met from being in the same friend group, which is also known as proximity. Stereotypes about love are everywhere. Models are on every ad you see, and they are always skinny and tan young people with bright white teeth and a blemish free face. Celebrity couples are “perfect” because they are so rich they can go out on every expensive date they want and flaunt their fake features. Men look for the perfect ‘hourglass figure”, or known today as “slim thicc”. Women look for the Abercrombie & Fitch model or the twin of Zac Efron with the chiseled jaw line and six pack. There are many ways we as a new generation can break stereotypes on love and attraction. Start by breaking the matching hypothesis, and don’t base your relationship off of looks, and instead personality. Remember that one saying we hear all the time, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, and go talk to other people who are not in your social group. “Jocks” and “Nerds” can talk too! So can “Popular kids” and the “shy kids”. It should not matter who you are friends with and what makes you different from one another, everyone shares the one emotion and desire of love.

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Orcutt Academy High School News and Event
The Psychology of Love