The science of love – so what exactly is love?

The science of love

Love oh love….Now before I go channeling my inner Lionel Richie here, let’s get serious. My idea of love ten years ago was very different to what it is now, but if you throw the science of love into the mix as well, then – love might be a very different thing to that which we thought it was. Today on the blog, to help us get to the bottom of the question of what exactly love is and understand the science of it all, I get into conversation with  Dr Fred Nour, author of the book True Love: How to use science to understand love. 

Firstly let’s get the biggie out of the way – is there such a thing as love at first sight?

There is “falling in love” at first sight but there is no true love at first sight. Falling in love is based on monoamines and true love is based on nonapeptides, another chemical that comes later on about 3-4 years after falling in love.

Everyone seems to think that love is a matter of the heart, but is love actually a matter of the heart or the brain?

The heart has absolutely nothing to do with love. Love is in the brain. The heart simply follows the orders of the master, the brain. When you get excited about your beloved, it is the brain that get excited sending commands to the heart to beat faster and stronger. The heart has no sensations except chest pain.

What really attracts us to some people but not others?

We do not all have the same genes. No two persons look exactly the same for this reason. Our genes guide us to a mate with genes that when mixed with our unique set of genes can produce healthier offspring. The same genes un-attract us to mates whose genes when mixed with ours will produce an unhealthy offspring.

How much do our genes impact on love and relationships?

Our genes guide us to select the perfect matching set of genes for our own genes. Our genes control our ability to build a strong or weak attachment to our mate (to love them). It is mostly in the genes, not the conscious brain. We do not all have the same ability to love. We vary widely.

True love & romantic love – what’s the difference?

Romantic love comes first. It is based on monoamines in the brain. Its purpose is to prepare the brain for a strong true love phase. Monoamines cause an increase in the number of nonapeptide cells and their receptors. True love comes later and is based on that set of chemicals, nonapeptides. Now people who have fallen in love will experience a strong bonding with their mate and a strong true love. People who marry for gains (money, power) without falling in love, no monoamines, never experience true love for this reason.

Do we sometimes appear to be in love, when we are actually not?

Infatuations are driven by the sex drive, which is driven by dopamine and not by monoamines set of chemicals (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin). The dopamine part can mimic falling in love. here, the person is not seeking to bond with one individual for life but are simply satisfying their sex drive.

Is there such a thing as an everlasting love?

Yes, true love is everlasting but it takes work and effort.

What does this all mean for sustaining love long term?

There are many natural ways to keep love everlasting. The book list few of them in details. Examples are intimacy, cooperation, courage, discipline.

And what about falling out of love – is it really the end?

No falling out of love is just a phase in love. It has a purpose and benefits for us. It always end with the beginning of true love phase.

If there’s only one thing you could say about love it would be….

Romance does not touch us one time and lasts for a life time. Romance is a temporary phase in the journey to true love.

Fred Nour, M.D., is double board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Neurology and Neurophysiology. He is now semi-retired and lives in Southern California. He is happily married with two daughters in college who he hopes will each one day find their own true love. Learn more about Dr. Nour at and connect with him on FaceBook and LinkedIn. His new book, True Love: How to use science to understand love is available on Niguel Publishing, Amazon and booksellers everywhere.

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