7 Signs You’re Chemically Bonded To Your Significant Other, According To Science
Falling in love can make you feel all sorts of crazy and wonderful things. Your heart may race whenever your partner is near and you might even get those butterflies-in-your-stomach feelings. But as magical as love can be, it's very grounded in some pretty fascinating science. As weird as it may be, people can be chemically bonded to their partner.
"While many people view love as a completely psychological phenomenon, the truth is that physical chemicals also play a crucial role in bringing couples together," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle.
According to Backe, the hormonal reaction often begins with attraction and a rise in the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. "By producing more of these hormones, your brain is effectively trying to find a mate for you to reproduce by increasing your sexual desire," he says.
Regardless of whether you actually want to reproduce or not, when you meet someone you really like, your body releases "attraction hormones" such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. "These hormones are produced in the hypothalamus, which is the brain’s primary reward, motivation, and emotion center," Backe says. "In fact, you have dopamine and norepinephrine to thank for feeling lovesick, as these hormones cause euphoria, lack of appetite, and insomnia."
It's no secret that love can affect your body in different ways. There are so many things that happen to your body when you fall in love. Many of which, you probably don't even realize. So here are some signs that you and your partner are chemically bonded together, according to science.
1. You Can't Get Enough Of Your Partner
When you're falling in love, your brain and body work together to give you a rush of "feel-good" chemicals. According to Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, norepinephrine fills you with "piercing energy," serotonin gives you boosts in self-confidence, and dopamine makes nearly everything you experience in the beginning very pleasurable. "The high during this phase is so powerful that when researchers examine the brain activations of people who are newly in love, they see similar activity to the brains of cocaine users," Dr. O'Reilly says. Although it doesn't necessarily mean you become "addicted" to your partner, you feel like you can't get enough of them.
2. You Act Irrationally Around Them
As you probably know or have experienced, that "high" you get when you're falling in love doesn't last. As Dr. O'Reilly says, that may not be a bad thing. When all your feel-good hormones are spiked, there's a tendency to become irrational. "When your neurotransmitters are destabilized by new romantic love, your mood becomes unsteady," she says. "You don’t always make the most wise decisions. Because you’re infatuated and you make all of those decisions based on this new, shiny, seemingly perfect object of your affection." So if you feel like falling in love is leading you to make questionable decisions, it's very likely that you're chemically bonded to your partner.
3. Cuddling Is Your Favorite Thing About Sex
If you haven't been much of a post-sex cuddler, but you're new partner brings it out of you, chances are you might be chemically bonded to them. As you know, the brain releases dopamine to "reward" us for doing something that feels good, like having sex or bonding with your partner. While testosterone and estrogen motivates us to have sex, Backe says it’s dopamine that makes us want to cuddle afterward. In fact a 2016 survey from the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada and Trojan condoms, found that cuddling after sex can boost sexual satisfaction and increase closeness among couples. That's because your body releases oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone, during sex.
4. You Can "Feel" Your Partner's Pain
There's a lot of empathy in relationships where couples are deeply bonded together. "When they hurt, you hurt," therapist Dr. Tracey M. Phillips, tells Bustle. "Sometimes, this means feeling the actual physical pain that your partner feels." If that sounds crazy, it's not too far off. A 2004 study published in the journal Science found that we are hardwired to process pain when a loved one is hurt. Researchers conducted a study of 16 heterosexual couples and measured one partner's brain activity while the other received a short jolt of pain. When one person was feeling pain, brain activity in their partner was triggered enough to elicit an empathetic response.
5. When Your Partner Is In A Bad Mood, You're In A Bad Mood
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples in close relationships have similar levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. While this study found that couples' hormones can be in sync, it's not necessarily a good thing in this case. Cortisol is the stress hormone, so this suggests that when one partner was in a bad mood, the other was just as likely to feel it as well. As you can imagine, two people feeling stressed or in a bad mood at the same time doesn't make for a good relationship. In fact, a follow-up study found that couples whose cortisol levels synced up had low levels of relationship satisfaction. Instead, researchers say well-balanced relationships are ones where one partner can help calm the other down when they're feeling overwhelmed.
6. You Really Like Kissing Your Partner
A 2013 Oxford University study found that kissing helps us to find and keep the right partner. According to research, kissing allows us to subconsciously assess a potential partner by picking up on "biological compatibility cues." Kissing was found to be useful for finding a person you want a relationship with long-term. Couples who make it a point to kiss a lot were also found to have higher levels of oxytocin and had higher levels of relationship satisfaction than couples who don't kiss a lot. When couples have higher levels of oxytocin between them, they were also found to finish each other's sentences and touch more. In short, they were very in sync.
7. You Just Don't Want To Be With Anyone Else
The rush of feel-good chemicals you get in the early stages of your relationship inevitably fade. But as we know, that's OK. In fact, according to Dr. O'Reilly, about six to 18 months into your relationship, you will experience a chemical shift in your body. "This passionate love eventually transitions to the second phase of love, which is companionate or attachment love, as you get to know each other better," she says. You lose that "untamed lovin' feeling" because your body shifts from releasing dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin to vasopressin and oxytocin. "These are believed to play roles in bonding parent to child through breastfeeding, cuddling and kissing," Dr. O'Reilly says. "They’re so essential to bonding and creating a lasting relationship that when you suppress vasopressin in animal experiments, parents will abandon their young." Research has also found that oxytocin helps men in particular stay monogamous. So even with all the options out there, these bonding hormones make it so you stay faithful to just one person.
Being "chemically bonded" to your partner may seem out there, but as you can see, it's really not. Thanks to biology, your body will find ways to keep you connected to your partner whether you realize it or not.