Image by Marie Vonow
We have heard people talk of a person being crazy in love and science shows this is more than an expression. Changes occur in the brain when a person is in love, especially early in a relationship. Some of the crazy things people do in the name of love can be explained, at least in part, by chemicals released and increased activity in specific parts of the brain.
When you are first going out with someone you really like it is possible you will have trouble concentrating. Your thoughts keep going back to the object of your desire and you wonder what he is doing now and when he will contact you. You just keep thinking about him.
You may be making plans for the future. Perhaps you picture your wedding like Bridget in Bridget Jones's Wedding
. Your mind wanders from the study, home chores or employment tasks you are supposed to be attending to. And you keep checking your phone for missed calls and texts.
People in love often have increased energy and could find it difficult to sleep. They may feel more confident than usual and be on a high.
On the other hand, there can be feelings of anxiety. Will he contact me? How will he get on with Mum and Dad? Is our relationship going to last? Is he being faithful?
MRI scans have shown various forms of activity in the brain of a person wildly in love. The insular cortex, an area associated with feelings of anxiety, lights up intensely indicating a high degree of activity. This could explain why you panic that he won't call or fear something has happened to him when he fails to make contact.
The nucleus accumbens becomes very active when you are in love, similar to gamblers and cocaine users when they are satisfying their addiction. At the same time there is decreased
activity in the pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for decision making, problem solving and keeping social behaviour under control.
The brain is flooded with a number of chemicals and hormones. Phenylethylamine, which is also found in marijuana and chocolate, can make lovers more adventurous than usual. This natural amphetamine is partly responsible for the quicker heart beat, breathlessness and trembling those in love are likely to experience.
Serotonin levels in a person newly in love may drop by as much as 40%. As serotonin acts to make one happy and calm, a significant drop can cause an increase in jealousy. This may even lead to stalking behaviours, either online or in the 'real world'.
The hormone oxytocin makes one desire cuddling and bonding. It also has a negative effect on memory, which may account for the tendency to forget things when newly in love.
Extra dopamine is released, making you crave your new love. This, along with other changes in the brain, can lead to rash behaviour. Remember, your decision making abilities, problem solving skills and social behaviour controls have taken a dive. This could explain why you spent a large amount of money to travel overseas to visit the object of your desire. If you have plenty of cash this isn't a problem but if you need to borrow or use money ear marked for a deposit it could be.
The way new love affects the brain can lead to actions an individual will later regret. The tattoo of the name of your new love on your arm for all to see seemed like a good idea at the time. If the relationship doesn’t last you may later ask, 'What was I thinking?'
You may be happy to make a substantial loan to your new boyfriend believing you will be together forever. Perhaps quitting your great job so you can move across the country to live with Mr Right seems logical at the time. Selling your home to move in with your new fella may be a good decision, or not. Some decisions can be the 'right' one and not at all crazy. Time will tell.
Some things people have done in the name of love seem crazy to me. After his girlfriend dropped him, one chap asked a mate to shoot him in the arm. His thinking was she would feel sorry for him and come back to him but this didn't happen. A love struck couple had plastic surgery in an attempt to look the same as each other.
I read online of a woman who wandered around the neighbourhood in her pyjamas to check her boyfriend was at his mate's place as he claimed. Once she saw his car outside his friend's house she was convinced and walked home. Then she realised she was taking a risk wandering the streets alone at night and being in her pyjamas was a bit crazy.
There are numerous changes in the brain when one is first in love and one's behaviour may be crazy for a time. These changes usually revert to normal after a while allowing one to get a good night's sleep, concentrate better and make more rational decisions.