Hi could anyone explain the biological basis behind romantic love. What is the biological basis of falling in love?I know that serotonin and dopamine are secreted when we first fall in love. What happens after that as we move on to the more advanced stages of love. Why is it that after some time, we no longer feel the initial feelings of love. What is the biological basis behind it. And also why do we feel so heartbroken if we happen to fall out of love? What is the biological basis behind it?

  • $\begingroup$ courtship rituals like romantic love are a product of evolution. for humans they are often engineered to create a long term bonding. all human cultures have romantic love. Human love is more biological than we often expect. I'm not an ethologist, but these behaviors are so unusual when you stand back and look at other animals and primates. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    May 8 '14 at 14:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have a theory that we may not feel the same after a few years with a person because maybe like when we need higher quantities of a drug to get the required effect in addicts over time, the same amount of dopamine/serotonin cocktail just doesn't do much to our senses after a couple of months/years.. $\endgroup$ May 20 '14 at 5:10

Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are more commonly found during the attraction phase of a relationship.

All these chemicals stimulate the brain's pleasure center. But this stage only lasts 1.5 - 3 years [2]. That's why 'we no longer feel the initial feelings of love'.

Oxytocin and vasopressin seemed to be more closely linked to long term bonding and relationships characterized by strong attachments [1].

Attachment makes relationships last for years and decades. It is based on commitment and mutual friendship. Oxytocin and vasopressin are at higher levels [2].

The neurological process involved in the perception of heartache is not known, but is thought to involve the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain, which during stress may overstimulate the vagus nerve causing pain, nausea or muscle tightness in the chest [3].

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Image from Wikipedia [1]


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Biological basis of love," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Biological_basis_of_love&oldid=613867553 (accessed June 26, 2014).

  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Love," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Love&oldid=614240299 (accessed June 26, 2014).

  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Broken heart," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Broken_heart&oldid=613979584 (accessed June 26, 2014).

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer. Has there been any solid work on pheromone-like molecules and human compatibility? $\endgroup$
    – PlaysDice
    May 19 '14 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ @PlaysDice there are a few articles about that. Here is one ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15653193 $\endgroup$
    – Cornelius
    May 19 '14 at 14:38

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