I’ve been spending a great deal of time of late wondering about the elusive qualities of chemistry and attraction. What are the qualities that cause you to fall in love, in lust, or just spark off someone new? Why is it that after years of self awareness, and a good understanding of human relationships can be thwarted by a huge rush of hormones? For me much of it is about scent. You could be my perfect partner, but if the smell is wrong, it will leave me cold. On the other hand, what is it about scent, and instant connection that has you fantasizing about Egyptian cotton sheets, and a very dirty weekend?
According to Men’s Health magazine it’s all about the dopamine.
"When you spot the object of your desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine lights up areas deep within the brain, triggering feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward. (Cocaine acts the same way.) You feel a rush, and your heartbeat quickens. Attraction, too, is a powerful drug. The brain stem also gets into the act, releasing phenylethylamine (PEA), which speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. It’s no wonder your neck and eyeballs track her every movement." Just in case you are new to my blog, dopamine is why I eat chocolate. Really, it’s simply medicinal.
Dr. Amen in his book "Sex on the Brain" (read the blog of my review), has this to say about scent:
"There’s a direct connection between the olfactory bulb, at the top of your nose, and the septal area, the arousal center of your brain. When cells in your nose are stimulated, they send signals to your libido (and hers) to stand up and pay attention. You know what smells turn you on–the evidence is obvious. As for her, a study at the University of California at Berkeley found that women become aroused when exposed to a chemical called 4.16-androstadien-3-one (AND). The good news? AND occurs naturally in men’s sweat, hair, and skin. Take her someplace cold on your date–the favorite jacket or sweater you’ll conveniently have on hand to lend her should be loaded with the stuff."
But is that all there is to it? A little scent, a few hormones. Why one person (or two or three) and not another? Is that the other person finishes something about yourself that you are missing? Is it that they have the right humour, values, and cute dimple? I know poets and bards have been lamenting for centuries about what is love. I want to know not what, but why it’s love, and what happens to make one fall into it, to the exclusion of everyone else? A friend of mine says that if it’s real, its measurable. So as we learn more about the brain (and have do-it-yourself brain biopsy kits), maybe we can start to figure out what causes us to pick one person among a sea of others. You know, the lightning strikes kind of reaction. Or maybe the fun is in figuring it out. Just something I’m thinking about.