Those Kids and Their Crazy Hormones
Imagine you’re on your first date and you and your partner are hitting it off big time. It’s probably his/her witty comments or good sense of humor, his/her intelligence or impeccably beautiful smile that makes you feel extremely attracted to your date. As time goes on, you look deeply into each other’s eyes and giggle. You wonder, “am I falling in love?” The answer is: probably not (you’re only on your first date here, come on). You may not be falling in love, but you are feeling a stronger and closer bond being formed; and you’re feeling this way with some help from the hormones norepinephrine, dopamine, and oxytocin.
That’s right, kids– everything your parents told you about your crazy hormones when you had “The Talk” is true. Your hormones really are going crazy, and they really are helping you feel the way you do. When in love, areas in the brain that are known for their dopamine and norepinephrine production light up.
Norepinephrine, synthesized from dopamine, is released primarily as a stress hormone to affect concentration. Furthermore, norepinephrine aids in the fight-or-flight response, increasing heart rate, blood flow to the skeletal system, and causing the release of glucose. Dopamine acts as both a hormone and neurotransmitter in the brain, often associated with pleasure, excitement, and reward-motivated behavior. These hormones that related with focus, pleasure, and vigor are what allow you and your date to look deeply into each other’s eyes, giggle, and talk for hours on end.
Oxytocin, dubbed the “love hormone” is a hormone that is notorious for playing a role in bonding and amplifying social feelings. Oxytocin is released in different situations: nursing an infant, engaging in sexual activity, and even cuddling! This is turn heightens our social feelings, ultimately allowing trust-building and empathy to come into play. Without hormones, we wouldn’t be able to form the close social bonds that are so essential to relationships. So when you’re in a trusting and committed relationship, don’t forget the little guys: your crazy hormones.