I Love You with My Hypothalamus

Shakespeare once said, “love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.” When you are in love, all kinds of emotions can flare out of nowhere. From butterflies in your tummy one moment, to happiness and desperation the next. But why does this occur? When in love the brain activates chemicals and hormones that produce feelings of pleasure and infatuation. A newsletter published by the International Graduate Program Medical Neurosciences suggests that love is chemistry in the brain. Oxytocin and vasopressin are important ingredients in the love hormone, as they regulate the feelings of love in different ways. Both are connected to the dopamine system, which means these ingredients induce dopamine release, making love a rewarding experience. But oxytocin, nicked name “cuddle of trust” is activated when being cuddled, while vasopressin produces feelings of attachment.

By: Sketchy Science
Image By: Sketchy Science

Both of these hormones are produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain. The hypothalamus, called “the brain’s sex and pleasure center” is a portion of the brain made up of distinct nuclei that govern physiological functions such as, hunger, mood, and sex drive. How does this part of the brain work? Well, when a person feels attraction towards another, the hypothalamus transmits a stimulus to the pituitary gland. This gland releases hormones that are absorbed by the bloodstream. Then the reproductive glands respond to these hormones by releasing their own hormones into the bloodstream, elevating the heartbeat and making you feel light headed, the feeling people experience when in love.

To further understand how falling in love works, these are the basic steps you need to understand about the central nervous system. For example, when the love of your life arrives, you hug and kiss at the moment the sensory neurons travel to the thalamus and this sensation is processed. Then the signal of neurotransmitters travel to the hypothalamus causing a release of hormones. This activates the brains reward system, allowing you to feel happiness and pleasure. Afterwards, the motor neurons leave the brain and intensify the heart and lung muscles, elevating your heart rate and making your breathing faster.

When you say you and your partner “have chemistry” then you are completely right. Many argue that it is cold-hearted to say we don’t love with our heart, but the truth is we love with our brain. How else can you explain the elevated heart rates, the butterfly feelings in your stomach, and the sweaty palms you get when you see your lover? Now you can understand on a deeper level what love truly is.


Charite NueroScience. (2014). http://www.medical-neurosciences.de/fileadmin/user_upload/microsites/studiengaenge/neurosciences/cns-2014-i7i2.pdf

Maryanne Fisher and Victoria Costello. (2015). http://www.idiotsguides.com/relationships/dating/how-your-brain-functions-when-youre-in-love/

Tanya Lewis. (2014). http://www.livescience.com/43395-ways-love-affects-the-brain.html

Edited by Ranine Swaid.

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