The Science Behind Our Addiction To Love
Have you ever wondered why breakups can make you feel like all the light is gone from the world and like you're an addict who would do anything for just one more hit of love? To start, let's look at the scientific reasons why love is addicting and then why you're addicted to love. According to Merriam-Webster, addiction is "a strong and harmful need to regularly have something". And by need, they mean you've both built up a tolerance to the addictive substance, and you experience withdrawal symptoms when you abstain from it.
When we hear the word "addiction", it's typically associated with drugs. So we see addiction as a state of weakness under the grip of drugs. Drugs are like little ski-masked bandits that break into the brain, smash into the feel-good hormone reserve, and wreck havoc in the guise of pleasure. Different drugs stimulate the release of different feel-good hormones, like dopamine, oxytocin, opioids, and serotonin. Love stimulates all of them. Love turns on all the switches, making you feel all the good feels. The mix of attention, affection, attraction and arousal sends off a series of fireworks in the brain making you, the poor schmuck falling in love, the biggest addict of them all.
What's worse, your brain will make you believe that you're addicted to the person you're in love with, rather than the chemical reactions that person sets off in your noggin. Just like with drug use, you build up a tolerance to love. It becomes harder and harder to get back to that first high, that first time your brain released all of those feel-good hormones and you felt like you were on top of the world. The harder you try to get back to that place, the more discouraged you might get with your partner. If you break up, your brain will react the same way it would if someone stole your drugs, mid-bender: GIVE THAT BACK! I NEED IT! I'LL DIE WITH OUT IT! TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON!
OK, you're probably asking yourself what the point is. Is love the worst? Should high school health teachers add love to the D.A.R.E programming? Do you need rehab to get over your addiction to love? If love is just a chemical reaction, is it even real? Well, as it turns out, it's not all black and white. It's not all love and drugs. Social interaction with your friends and family can help to reawaken those tapped out feel-good hormone reserves. In this video brought to you by Inside Science, a (very cute) man named Alistair Jennings further explains (with all of the proper scientific terms) why love is addictive and why you're going to be just fine.