The concept of love has preoccupied humans throughout history. It remains challenging to describe, and is filled with passion, vulnerability and even pain. It is not only a feeling, but also an act. Love can be not only something you do, but something that happens to you. Sometimes people can feel themselves falling in love, while others are utterly confused when they suddenly find themselves smitten. Falling in love may be somewhat of a mystery, but there are factors that can be identified as influencing the process.
Falling in love is -- to some extent -- scientific, states psychology professor Maryanne Fisher in her article for Psychology Today titled, "The Science Behind Falling in Love." Early in the process, your biochemistry changes. Dopamine releases the hormone testosterone which enhances your senses and might cause you to sweat more, for instance, and lead to an increase in "excitement and happiness," according to Fisher. Your brain helps you focus on the person of interest, possibly causing you to have difficulty sleeping and eating. Your mind and body, then, are not only affected by falling in love, but they in turn influence the intensity of the experience.
Similarity and Proximity
It is logical that you are likely to fall in love with someone to whom you have access -- someone who lives near you. Proximity certainly influences falling in love, though similarity is an even greater influence on falling in love than proximity. Opposites sometimes attract, but building rapport with someone who shares your values and interests on some level is an essential part of falling in love. For example, you and your partner may enjoy different genres of music and root for rival sports teams, but still build a strong bond over your love of cooking and camping.
Obstacles and Exhilaration
In "Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose," Ayala Malach Pines reports that attraction and love are enhanced when external factors get in the way of them. She provides the example of a teen dating relationship to which the adolescents' parents object. The obstacle of being forbidden to see a love interest is likely to exacerbate the feeling of longing, therefore affecting the process of falling in love. Many different states of emotional arousal can actually affect this process, such as the fear experienced during and after a car accident, the joy felt after being hired for a job or the grief over the loss of a grandparent.
Time and Endurance
Falling in love -- and staying there -- takes time. A romantic relationship is similar to all others in the sense that it requires time and attention, and endures conflict as well. Once you and your beloved move beyond the initial hormonal frenzy, and understand that your feelings are mutual, then you can respectfully disagree, negotiate and compromise with one another, and experience the depths of falling in love. At this point, you no longer see your partner as the epitome of perfection or a dream come true. Deep levels of trust develop, your flaws show themselves and you and your partner can respect one another despite them.
- Pines, Ayala Malach, Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose. Routledge, 2005.
- Psychology Today: The Science Behind Falling in Love: Maryanne Fisher, Ph.D.
- Psychology Campus: Attraction
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