Skip to content

Secret Side Effects Of Being In Love, According To Science

Here's what love can do to your body.

Love can bring on a plethora of emotions, as everyone who has experienced it understands very well. From feeling completely elated one moment, to being woeful, apprehensive, potentially angry, or even self-doubting the next, being in love is a term that covers quite a bit of ground. A loving relationship can be an intense roller coaster of emotions, and it's a very personal, unique experience for everyone involved.

Since, as with many life moments, love comes with its ups and downs of emotions, you may find yourself wondering, what is actually going on inside your body once you've been struck by Cupid's arrow? Well, science reveals the secret side effects of being in love. Read on to learn more, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Love can increase your body's stress hormone, cortisol

serious couple looks at each other

Although the term "lovesick" has never been proven to be a medical diagnosis—PsychCentral dubs it a "biological response," not a mental health condition that's clinically recognized—love can increase your stress hormone, cortisol, which can actually suppress your immune system, via the Harvard Gazette.

According to Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, "Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions."

Related: Doing This Can Cut Your Stress Levels By 25%, New Study Says

You can experience feelings of ecstasy, a racing heart, sweaty palms, and even flushed cheeks

happy couple embraces in bright kitchen

This total love potion is what causes you to feel like Cupid's arrow hit you right in your heart, making it beat fast. You may get sweaty palms, and your cheeks might turn as red as Rudolph's nose. What is actually happening here? Well, doses of norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine in your body skyrocket when the love bug bites, according to Loyola University Health System. The magic of dopamine is what triggers all of those exhilarating fireworks, emotions, and feelings of ecstasy. At the same time, your norepinephrine and adrenaline levels cause your heart to race, making you unable to focus on anything else—well, you get the picture.

Levels of serotonin decrease, then slowly get back to normal, and oxytocin kicks in

senior couple hiking with walking sticks

And that's not all! When the love bug hits, your serotonin levels decrease, so add a bit of fixation to the mix. Richard Schwartz, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a consultant to McLean and Massachusetts General hospitals studied all of the emotions experienced in relationships, including love, hate, and indifference. Schwartz said on love, "It's fairly complex, and we only know a little about it" (via the Harvard Gazette).

"What keeps love alive is being able to recognize that you don't really know your partner perfectly and still being curious and still be exploring," Schwartz explained. He noted our levels of serotonin slowly get back to normal, and oxytocin kicks in, creating a more peaceful, developed type of love. The oxytocin hormone is actually what assists in strengthening relationships. It can also help boost the function of your immune system.

Related: Secret Side Effects of Owning a Dog, According to Science

You might even get better sleep

older couple sleeping peacefully

Love is the culprit of many variations in our health—both good and bad. A previous analysis found that couples normally get a better night's sleep than individuals who are single. But when things aren't going so well between the lovebirds, there's a higher rate of poor sleep quality. In fact, an unhappy marriage can lead to depression and distress, two conditions that can change your neurochemistry and neurobiology.

It's important for couples to find ways to strengthen their bond for the long run

couple runs at sunset on city bridge

Daily life can cause pressure and havoc on any loving relationship. Jacqueline Olds, associate professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School weighed in on the subject. Olds said, "There is too much pressure … on what a romantic partner should be. They should be your best friend, they should be your lover, they should be your closest relative, they should be your work partner, they should be the coparent, your athletic partner. … Of course everybody isn't able to quite live up to it."

Both Schwartz and Olds revealed to the Harvard Gazette that it's so important for couples to find ways to strengthen their bond for the long run. Each person should have their own curiosities, and spend time sharing and learning about those interests with their partner. Schwartz explained that relationships also thrive when there are common interests and goals. After all, "You're not going to get to 40 years by gazing into each other's eyes," Schwartz said.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa