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Why We Fall in Love

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
What makes people fall in love? This question is even tackled in movies: But why doesnt he love me? sobbed Sally as she mopped up her tears and runny nose in When Harry Met Sally. She was heartbroken that her old boyfriend married someone else. Sally is not alone: most old and young lovers experience broken hearts and feelings of rejection in their lives. What makes people fall in love - the chemistry in romantic relationships - can seem like a mystery.

Knowing why we fall in love may help ease feelings of rejection and heartbreak. If someone doesnt fall in love with you, its not because youre ugly, stupid or poor. Sometimes the chemistry just isnt right. Why we fall in love has been researched extensively.

What Makes People Fall in Love

Psychologist Mark Kristal from the University of Buffalo explains the chemistry in romantic relationships. There are several types of chemistry required in romantic relationships, he says. It seems like a variety of different neurochemical processes and external stimuli have to click in the right complex and right sequence for someone to fall in love. The chemistry in romance requires certain elements of love.

Smell. We fall in love partly because of smell. The scent of a bouquet of red roses, for instance, is a cultural preference that boosts the chemistry in romantic relationships. Dr Kristal says, Smell forms part of the framework that conforms to cultural attractiveness standards. For example, smelling like a strawberry instead of mildew [makes you attractive]. Smelling delicious could be part of why we fall in love.

Love pheromones. Invisible signals are part of what makes people fall in love. Pheromones are unlearned, and perhaps unsmellable, signals that enter the brain through the olfactory system. They can function in sex, alarm, territoriality, aggression, and fear, says Dr Kristal. He believes that we choose specific mates not solely due to pheromones, but for other reasons. Other sensory cues are better explanations for why we fall in love, such as touch, smell, and hearing.

The brain. We fall in love partly because of hormones. Oxytocin and vasopressin are present when people fall in love and stay together for a long time. Dopamine is also part of the chemistry in romantic relationships. So, when youre wondering Why doesnt he love me? you may have to look to brain chemistry as the answer. Its not necessarily you, its just that your brain chemicals didnt mesh. Lack of hormones could explain why we fall inlove.

Can you make someone love you? Well, since the chemistry in romantic relationships is affected by smell, you could try approaching someone you like with a dozen roses or a mug of hot chocolate. And since the hormone oxytocin can be created by positive experiences, it might be smart to ensure all your interactions are pleasant ones.

Just remember that the chemistry in romantic relationships doesnt change who you are as a person. Sally in When Harry Met Sally was just as beautiful, smart and funny after her ex-boyfriend married someone else.

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

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