Love is an incredible thing. It has the power to change the course of our lives.
The various types of love are probably the most powerful emotions that we’ll ever experience in our lifetimes, trumping fear and hate.
Love can make us blissfully happy or incredibly sad.
Love will mark and shape our lives. The love we feel for our family, our friends, and even our pets has a huge effect on us.
But romantic love is a whole different ball game.
It can be the most confusing emotion you’ll ever experience, with thrilling highs and crashing lows.
You can feel powerless when you’re overwhelmed by romantic love.
If you’ve ever fallen in love, you’ll probably know that feeling only too well.
It can leave you feeling shaken and not sure which way is up.
It can lead you to make decisions that you’d never make when not under the influence of those powerful love hormones.
It can also make you happier than you’ve ever been before.
Love changes and evolves as time goes on and feelings mature. The early days of love can be thrilling, but stressful. But as you settle into long term love, things become less about extreme emotions and more about mutual trust, respect, and care for one another.
Gaining an understanding of the reasons why we love one another and the basic science behind it can help us stay grounded and retain a sense of perspective when we’re caught up in the whirlwind of romantic love, especially when we’ve just met someone, or when love seems to be going wrong.
Let’s not, however, take the magic out of the feeling all together.
Love is a wonderful, largely inexplicable thing, and we can’t be logical all the time. That wouldn’t be any fun at all.
Sometimes, we just have to feel, not think, and not try to rationalize everything.
But understanding the reasons why you feel the way you do can help keep your feet on the ground.
It can help you appreciate why it feels like the world is ending when you lose a romantic love, or like you couldn’t live without the object of your affections.
It can also help you to gain clarity on exactly what it is you want out of a romantic relationship, and take control of your hormones, recognizing who really would make the perfect partner for you in the long term.
Understanding the reasons why human beings, as a species, fall in love can help you figure out the role love plays for you, personally.
If you’ve been searching for some insight into why you feel the way you do, read on for a few explanations.
3 Evolutionary Reasons Why We Fall In Love
1. As our bodies evolved, our ability to love developed.
It’s widely agreed that it’s our ability to love one another, or develop strong pair bonds, that has made us such a successful species.
In case you hadn’t noticed, human beings have dominated our beautiful planet, for better or worse.
We human beings have very large brains inside very large, thick skulls.
But, to be very reductive about it, when we came down from the trees onto the African savannah and started walking on two feet, our pelvises changed shape and became smaller.
That, in turn, meant that women needed to give birth to smaller, less developed babies in order to live to tell the tale and nourish those babies to adulthood, so the species continued to thrive.
Compare them with the young of other mammals and you’ll get a good idea of just how helpless a human baby is when it’s only been cooking in its mother’s tummy for a mere nine months.
A newborn giraffe is running around within hours, able to flee from danger and feed from its mother, but a human baby needs years and years of devoted love, care, and protection to survive.
That means that human babies are more likely to survive if they’ve got two parents to care for them, rather than just one.
Love is what keeps those parents together and motivates them to commit and hang around even when things get tough, as they inevitably will.
The love we feel for our partners, as well as for our children, is what forges family units and means we work together to raise children and ensure they make it to adulthood.
I know it doesn’t sound romantic, but most people agree that the love we’re capable of feeling for one another is a huge part of why human beings have been so successful.
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2. Those big brains mean we can feel big emotions.
Out of all the animals on planet Earth, we have the largest brains.
And it seems that those brains mean we’re capable of overpowering emotions.
We’re all about extremes.
We’ve got the most advanced language skills around, and we’re also far more likely that any other mammal to kill one another, as uncomfortable a thought as that might be.
The point is, it’s been argued that, as a species, we’re prone to going all out when it comes to our emotions.
We don’t do things by halves. We’ve evolved to be capable of extreme hate, and passionate love.
That might play a big role in why we’re able to form partnerships that can last a lifetime, and can feel like we’d do anything for love.
3. It’s all down to hormones.
Okay, so I’ll admit that chalking love entirely up to hormones isn’t exactly the most romantic of concepts, just as attributing it all to evolution and reproduction isn’t the stuff that Valentine’s Day cards are made of.
None of us really wants to accept that the way we feel about the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with is all down to hormones, now do we?
On the other hand, when you’re going through the pain of a breakup, the idea that it’s just withdrawal from the hormones your brain released when you were around that person can be quite a comforting one.
But without wanting to ruin the magic of it all, long term, committed love is characterized by two hormones: oxytocin and vasopressin.
They’re warm, fuzzy hormones that motivate us to form a long-term bond with a romantic partner.
If you’re trying to get over someone, reminding yourself that love is essentially all about hormones which will eventually start to leave your system can help you see light at the end of the tunnel.
4 Social Reasons Why We Fall In Love
So, we’ve looked at the more physical reasons why human beings have developed to love one another.
Now, let’s consider a few of the social reasons that play a big part in motivating us to find someone to share our lives with.
These are things we’re normally aware that we’re searching for and are appreciative of, unlike the hormonal stuff that often goes below the surface.
1. We want company.
Human beings are naturally sociable creatures, and whilst many of us enjoy being on our own now and again, most of us have a need to seek out the company of other human beings.
A romantic partner is someone you can go through life with. Someone you know is always going to be there for you. Someone you can talk to, have adventures with, and cuddle up to.
2. We need support.
If we’re lucky, we’ll have a strong support network of friends and family to rely on.
But there’s nothing quite like the support of a romantic partner.
A partner or spouse is someone you can rely upon through thick and thin. The right relationship can give you the security and support you need to spread your wings and fly.
3. We crave affection.
Okay, so we’re kinda getting back to hormones here.
Physical contact with other human beings releases feel-good hormones that fill us with a sense of contentment.
A romantic partner can give us the physical affection we crave.
4. We think about the practicalities.
This is another very unromantic one, but our desire to be in a relationship with someone and the love we feel for them can sometimes be motivated, in part, by practical considerations.
After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Having a romantic partner in your life often makes sense financially, and normally makes things like child-rearing and running a household far easier to handle.
Don’t underestimate the power that practicalities can have when it comes to romantic attachment.
Don’t over-analyze your love!
It’s great to be aware of the reasons why we love one another, but don’t get so caught up in the science behind things that you miss out on the incredible, verging on magical experience of falling in love.
Whatever the reasons we love each other, we do it passionately, and we do it well, and you’ll never forget what it feels like to fall for someone head over heels.