Why does finding love make us crazy?



Love does funny things to people. It can make the middle-aged man run off with a woman half his wife’s age. It can make the inwardly insecure, but outwardly sorted woman fall for a married man.  And it can make all of us ignore the perfectly sane advice of our concerned friends, in favour of doing something totally irrational in the name of love.

Freud said, ‘One is very crazy when in love’, and indeed, through the centuries people have often likened being in love to being mad. We characterise both states by a loss of self-control, reason and sudden obsessive desire. In fact, there are large similarities between falling in love and addiction – which makes sense if you’ve ever known anyone who seems to be addicted to their partner.

It’s hardly our faults we feel like this. Have a look at these chemicals that flood our brains when we fall in love:

Androgen and oestrogen: sex drive

Testosterone: sex drive, monogamy, paternal behaviour

Dopamine: attraction

Norepinepherine and Serotonin: well-being, reward prediction, behavioural preparedness

Oxytocin and vasopressin: attachment, anxiety reduction, orgasm, anxiety reduction

Endorphins: affiliation, maternal behaviour, sexual arousal, sexual award, playful behaviour, anti-anxiety

It’s no wonder we feel so elated when we find love then, if we’ve got more chemicals in our systems than Keith Richards. As with some prescription drugs, some of us are affected by these chemicals more than others – and this is when we start to behave irrationally.

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