THE BIOCHEMISTRY OF LOVE
SEEKING TO PERPETUATE THE SPECIES
ONE "DRIVING" FORCE
We became as we are because of our ancestors DNA surviving, by being passed on in the form of children. (Duh!)
The temperament and tendency to certain behaviors survived if they helped to keep the people actively involved in passing on the genes, including giving the children better odds for surviving, so that the genes could be passed on. (The mechanical aspect was based on "survival of the fittest". That is sometimes construed as being of the meanest, but that is not at all true. It is of "the fittest to pass on the genes without dying before that." See Evolution.)
IT'S "LIMBIC", EMOTIONAL
Our limbic system, called our emotional brain, is what governs and activates our behaviors.
However, as we developed the cortex, we were able to stop the behaviors we deemed undesirable and to choose others - but only when we bothered to activate it. (duh!)
Otherwise, this strictly mechanical system will just operate mechanically. It cannot put this into language, for it does not have word language (that is only in the cortex); it has chemical/mechanical communication, which might be said to be simplistic language of sorts, but not a primitive version of the totally different type of language used by humans.
The system is not at all "interested" in love, just in reproduction and what facilitates it. First, the mind must handle survival threats, but when those are not present, it goes for reproductive success. It happens mechanically, whether you think it or not.
Feelings guide us, but not in some warm, sentimental way, but strictly in what works and what doesn't work. We get bad feelings when we are pursuing something we will not succeed in, so we are encouraged to stop what we are doing and to put more effort into areas where we can succeed, where we get good feelings.
AND FEELINGS COME FROM...
Bad feelings are from the unhappy chemicals. Good feelings are from the happy chemicals.
More mating opportunities exist for higher status people, so cortisol, the feel bad chemical, is automatically turned on more for those with lower social status.
The "seeking reward" chemical dopamine is stimulated by the chase. It feels good to anticipate the reward.
When you seek and get the one you are chasing, you're flooded with dopamine and feelin' good!
Then you touch and experience social trust building up a trust circuit and generating the "love chemical" called oxytocin. Oxytocin feels good and it builds a feeling of safety and social trust - which feels good from the good chemical of oxytocin - not because of some mystical force in the universe.
Serotonin is generated from the pride of associating with a person of higher stature. Higher stature does this because it is associated with greater reproductive success.
Are you sensing a theme here yet?:
Higher status = more mating opportunities; lower status = fewer, so we "feel" bad (our unhappy chemicals keep urging us to fix this!)
When social overtures are turned down, unhappy chemicals motivate us to try harder (ingenious design if you think about it!).
We want the oxytocin alot even when we break up, but the pain of lost love helps overcome it, with large doses of cortisol that cause you to avoid the other person - and to have a very clear, strong neural pathway that remembers the hurt!
ALWAYS RE-SEEKING WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER
When you're born, love equals survival. We learn to depend on that love and later we are presented with a conflict: we must at some point provide for ourselves - a realization that is painful (chemically). The stress of that produces cortisol and the pain of it causes us to question parents and their trustworthiness (did they really ever love us, we ask) and to help us break free (i.e. no longer feel the pain).
At that point, you seek something that will make you feel better, and to get you away from what makes you feel bad. (Remember that these are only chemical sensations in the body that follow a mechanical pattern 'designed' to achieve survival. There is no mystery, thought, or mysterious forces taking over. We add the "thought process" separately in the part of the brain that has thoughts in the sense that we think of them - in verbal language. In the lower brain there is a 'quasi-thought' that is primitive, but it is very low level and not in the realm of "verbal". That lower brain is totally mechanical and computerlike. Sees "x' does "y" - strictly mechanically reactive.
That something else to make us feel better, or less bad, would be new mating partners, nurturing children, helping others, changing the world for the better.
As we experience success or failure we feel ups and downs from the chemical reactions. And, as we all know, there is the good feeling (the ups) part of relationship and the bad feelings (the downs). There is a "cost-benefit" trade-off in having relationships - which means there is some believed risk.
Except we do get a freebe, as love songs activate happy chemicals (in anticipation of a reward), along with other fantasies..
THE REAL REASON FOR FEELING "CHEMISTRY" FOR A PERSON
Harville Hendrix, a relationship expert, who wrote Getting The Love You Want, in some catchy phrasing wrote that you meet a new prospect at a party and you "feel" the chemistry (which is kind of true, but not really romantic) because unconsciously your primitive brain has matched a pattern from your past that offers a new chance to repeat an old pattern where you felt loved OR, and he emphasizes this, your brain sees similar patterns to prior unresolved relationships so that you are now delighted to have the opportunity to finally solve the relationship problems with a new person (who is really like the old person). The reward is promising, generating dopamine and having you "fall in love" (which is BS, though "lust" could be closer to what is occurring in a sense). However, it is better to choose with your cortex and to not try the same unsuitable personal traits over again, despite your "feelings". You are not in love. You are knee deep in happy chemicals based on the prospect of reward, solving all your problems,and some (unrealistic) version of future bliss. If you want a good partner, I suggest you use your higher brain and not believe the bullbleep of fake romance (it's just chemicals and matched neuronal patterns!). Read and fully understand and follow Shopping - Finding And Selecting A Partner - The Most Vital Step!
SO, WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL OF THIS?
1. Don't take it all so seriously. It's just mechanical and it means nothing in itself.
2. Use the "chemicals" in a way where you generate them and are not just a victim of them - in other words, don't base your happiness on another person coming along and tweaking your chemicals.
3. Make sure you have a good partner. Don't let "chemistry" fool you into a bad relationship. Focus on the quality of the relationship.
SOME "MIXED" RESULTS WITH "ABUSE", REQUIRING A HIGHER BRAIN TO TAKE OVER
An odd effect of one "well-meaning" chemical is that it has us form a connection to people that cause us physical pain. Endorphins are generated to mask pain, to put us into an obliviousness of sorts, making us feel euphoric. (In early days, it masked the pain in battle so that we could fight or flee better without the distraction of attention to the wound.)
One must understand this and know cognitively (in the cortex) that the attachment that keeps us in a bad relationship is strictly a mechanical physical phenomena, serving us for the short term, in a sense, while the relationship harms us over time.