The High of Being in Love
by Frédérique Herel
You may have asked yourself "Why do I feel so high when I am in love?"

When we talk about "chemistry" between two people in love, we are right! Different chemicals in the brain make us feel like we are on drugs. And we are!

While we still don't know exactly why the "falling in love" process starts between two people, it is now a fact that people in love produce a higher-than-normal level of chemicals. Some of those chemicals - called "neurotransmitters" - are dopamine, phenylethylamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine is often called the "pleasure chemical". It is the hormone that make lovers feel an erotic high when they see each other. Being a natural endorphin, it relaxes the body and kills pain. Other symptoms related to dopamine are dilated pupils, heart racing, slight perspiration, as well as euphoria and craving. It is thanks to dopamine that people find the energy - or impulse - to meet someone in the first place. Interestingly, high levels of dopamine are present in people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now wonder lovers are so focused on each other!

Another chemical released by the brain in love is phenylethylamine or PEA. Sometimes referred to as the "hormone of libido", PEA is a natural endorphin that makes people feel happy and attached, and that increases sex drive. It is present in large quantities in manic people. Again, if people in love appear a bit insane to others, it may be because they are!

Finally, oxytocin is labeled the "cuddling hormone". It is released by touch and during sexual experiences. It also decreases mental processes and impairs memory. This is why hugging and touching can help us recover from an argument. Thinking of someone we love can stimulate this hormone, as well as soft lights, heat and romantic music.

It is important to realize that the chemicals released by the brain in love act exactly like drugs. With time, the brain becomes more tolerant and the euphoric feeling slowly disappears. If the couple is truly in love, passionate love turns into a more committed love. If it was just infatuation, the couple breaks up.

My own research and experiences reveal that the effect of those chemicals lasts between six weeks and one year, three months being the more common turning point of a relationship. The "craziness" of love rarely lasts more than a year.

Sometimes, the release of neurotransmitters stops faster with one lover than with the other. Cindy is still "addicted", while Ian has already gone back to normal. If Ian realizes he is not in love, he may end the relationship, thus leaving Cindy totally devastated. Cindy is still addicted and needs the "erotic high" provided by Ian. Because of the breakup, she will go through withdrawal and suffer just like any drug addict, not because Ian is the love of her life.

So if you feel high when you are in love, it is because you are addicted to all the drugs produced by your brain!

Now, why doesn't this feeling last forever?

The in-love feeling that comes from the increased production of chemicals (dopamine, PEA and oxytocin) brings an erotic high in the new lovers' brain.

As it is the case for any drug, the effect doesn't last forever. As the brain gets used to the "drugs", the euphoric feeling tends to fade quickly, usually within one year, often less, and is totally gone by the middle of the second year.

Unless this feeling is replaced with real love, the relationship ends. Isn't this a great incentive to develop a real relationship?