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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Wait, Is Love Simply a Chemical Reaction?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Some people think of love as an abstract feeling that can’t be explained while others consider it a chemical reaction that happens in your brain when you see the person you like. Since everyone has different views on the meaning of love, it’s hard to pinpoint a “correct” definition. So, what is love? Let’s find out from two different points of views: a biological anthropologist vs a social psychologist.

Dr. Helen Fisher tackles love in a more “sciency” point of view if you will. During a WIRED interview, she was asked about what happens to our bodies when we’re in love and she explains “…we [she and her colleagues] were able to find that everybody who’s madly in love… begins to have activity in a tiny little factory near the base of the brain called the “ventral tegmental area. And that brain region actually makes dopamine and sends it to many brain regions”. This suggests that when we feel like we’re “in love” the complex yet fascinating chemistry in our brain triggers our senses, which is what makes us feel nice and warm whenever we see our special someone. Therefore, those feelings of attraction and attachment are the effect of signals in our brain when we’re in love.

However, Erich Fromm, a social psychologist, describes love in a different way: “Love isn’t something natural. Rather, it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it’s a practice”. Fromm implies that love doesn’t come naturally for us, and although his point of view might be arguable, he implies that love grows with time and effort as it is something that must be cultivated rather than it already being built in our biological system. The psychologist’s statement makes sense since love takes dedication and devotion for it to bloom, and can’t be acquired overnight.

Though, which one is it? Are we programmed to love naturally or is it a feeling that grows slowly with time? The truth is that love has been studied by many researchers: its origin, purpose, and how it affects us have all been researched. Yes, love is undoubtedly a chemical reaction, but just because our brains experience natural processes like love, it doesn’t make this wonderful feeling any less meaningful. Love isn’t simply a chemical reaction to us humans, in order for it to stick around and grow it must be tended to and nurtured with time.

Mónica Zoé Haddock Marrero is a contributor at the Her Campus at UPR chapter. She’s a writer and social media designer for the chapter’s online platforms. All things health, such as nutrition, exercise, skin-and-hair care and self-care are all things she has written about and will continue to do so. Also, engrossing topics involving science and research are Mónica’s main area of interest. Apart from being a proud member of Her Campus, Mónica is a recent member in the SACNAS organization which provides professional and research opportunities for STEM students. She hopes to become a professional herself within this fieldwork. Moreover, she is currently an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Molecular Cell Biology. In her free time, Mónica writes short stories about fantasy and science fiction, enjoys making (as well as collecting) earrings and reads comics and stories of all kinds, specifically within the romantic and drama genre. She mostly listens to jazz or lofi while studying, but when she’s doing other miscellaneous things, Mónica listens to pop, rap, love songs and even classical music.