What is love? Love is actually a group of complex emotions and behaviors typically characterized by intense intimacy, passionate passion, dedication, and emotional connection. It often involves emotional love, caring, attention, intimacy, loyalty, security, attraction, and trust. Love can range from platonic to romantic, occasional to continuous, intense to passive, and may vary over time.
Love is one of the most important components of human relationships. People experience love in different ways. Some individuals express their love through acts of romance such as attending a romantic dinner or buying a new romantic gift, while other people are more passive in their expression of love. In romantic love, one person gives the other all of the attention in the world, while in a non-romantic love, one person passively gives the other all the attention in the world. When love is active it usually involves feelings of intimacy, desire, and dependence. One person gives the other all the energy in the world, while in non-romantic love the opposite is true.
Neurofunctional imaging in the brain has revealed several areas of the brain that are activated during romantic relationships. When you are in a relationship your brain strengthens neural pathways in the brain that support the relationship. This helps to give you feelings of being loved. These brain areas include the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the periaqueductal grey matter (PAG), and the hippocampus. These areas increase during states of high stress and when you are excited or depressed. It is not clear from the research if these areas of the brain are responsible for the liking someone has for you or the way you respond to them.
Individuals who like someone strongly demonstrate an effect of oxytocin receptors in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released during emotional bonding. This hormone reduces the number of cold muscles which constricts ones response to another person’s strong emotions. This allows the individual to be more responsive to their feelings of affection and desire for closeness.
Individuals who demonstrate consistent preferences for the same sex show stronger neural pathways in the brain than those who do not prefer any particular sex. The result is that they have stronger emotional responses to their partner and to the attachment they feel for this person. This makes the individual more responsive to the attachment they have for another person. This pattern of behaviour is associated with humans’ pre-dominance of sexual attraction over other forms of attachment.
Studies also suggest that we prefer people who are like us. If one person resembles us on the outside, we tend to be attracted to that person on the inside too. This means that if you have very strong feelings for another person, it could be because they resemble your innermost feelings for a partner in a relationship. The study shows that the stronger the similarity, the stronger the attraction. This means that the more emotionally invested a person is in the other person in a relationship, the more they will be drawn towards them physically.