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Cupids chemicals


									Cupid's chemicals
Flushed cheeks, a racing heart beat and clammy hands are some of the
outward signs of being in love. But inside the body there are definite chemical
signs that cupid has fired his arrow.

When it comes to love it seems we are at the mercy of our biochemistry. One
of the best known researchers in this area is Helen Fisher of Rutgers
University in New Jersey. She has proposed that we fall in love in three
stages. Each involving a different set of chemicals.
                Stage 1: LUST
                Lust is driven by the sex
                hormones testosterone and
                oestrogen. Testosterone is
                not confined only to men. It
has also been shown to play a major role in
the sex drive of women. These hormones as
Helen Fisher says "get you out looking for

                Stage 2: ATTRACTION
                This is the truly love-struck
                phase. When people fall in
                love they can think of
                nothing else. They might
even lose their appetite and need less sleep,
preferring to spend hours at a time
daydreaming about their new lover.

In the attraction stage, a group of neuro-
transmitters called 'monoamines' play an
important role:

• Dopamine - Also activated by cocaine and

• Norepinephrine - Otherwise known as
adrenalin. Starts us sweating and gets the
heart racing

• Serotonin - One of love's most important
chemicals and one that may actually send us
temporarily insane

 Discover which type of partner you're
attracted to by taking our face perception
           Stage 3: ATTACHMENT
           This is what takes over after the
           attraction stage, if a relationship
           is going to last. People couldn't
           possibly stay in the attraction
           stage forever, otherwise they'd
never get any work done!

Attachment is a longer lasting commitment
and is the bond that keeps couples together
when they go on to have children.
Important in this stage are two hormones
released by the nervous system, which are
thought to play a role in social

• Oxytocin - This is released by the
hypothalamus gland during child birth and
also helps the breast express milk. It helps
cement the strong bond between mother
and child. It is also released by both sexes
during orgasm and it is thought that it
promotes bonding when adults are
intimate. The theory goes that the more
sex a couple has, the deeper their bond

• Vasopressin - Another important
chemical in the long-term commitment
stage. It is an important controller of the
kidney and its role in long-term
relationships was discovered when
scientists looked at the prairie vole

         First love

          falling in love
 seems to
 have a similar
 effect on the
 brain as using

Everyone remembers their first love. Few experiences will ever be
as intense and overwhelming as your first crush.

When teenagers develop a sense of extraordinary closeness with
another person, the experience has echoes of the close contact
between mother and child in infancy.

Falling in love as a teenager is more intense than the experience
in adulthood. But these early relationships usually burn out quickly.
One survey showed that at age 15, dating relationships last an
average of only three to four months.

Love on the brain

Researchers have identified pathways in the brain which light up
when teenagers are in love. Falling in love seems to have a similar
effect on the brain as using cocaine. It's so pleasurable it's almost
like an addiction.

Brief loves

Researchers have identified three phases of love. The initial
physical response is 'lust'. The falling in love is called 'attraction'.
The emotional commitment, required to make relationships last in
the long term, is known as 'attachment'.

Teenagers seem to experience the attraction phase more strongly
than adults, but their failure to enter the attachment phase may be
to blame for the short-term nature of their relationships.

Teen idol,

Lessons in love

However short-lived it might turn out to be, an experience of
passionate love can quickly become the most important thing in a
young person's life. Teenagers in love spend endless hours
talking, either on the phone or face to face.

This intimacy teaches them about their own identity, simply
through becoming close to someone else. Intimacy also involves
openness, sharing and trust, so it also contributes to maturity.

As well discovering new emotional feelings, most teenagers also
experience new physical desires as well.

The Science of Flirting

                There are certain things you can do that
                might help your date go with a bang - and
                turn into something more serious.

               Ditch the chat up lines
It can take between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if
we fancy someone. But this has little to do with your
smooth-talking. As far as attraction goes, here's how we
get the message:

• 55% is through body language
• 38% is the tone and speed of our voice
 • Only 7% is through what we say

 Stare into each others' eyes
 New York psychologist, Professor Arthur Arun, has been
 studying the dynamics of what happens when people fall
 in love. He has shown that the simple act of staring into
each other's eyes has a powerful impact.

He asked two complete strangers to reveal to each other
intimate details about their lives. This carried on for an
hour and a half. The two strangers were then made to
stare into each others eyes without talking for four
minutes. Afterwards many of his couples confessed to
feeling deeply attracted to their opposite number and two
of his subjects even married afterwards.

When we are aroused and interested in what we are
looking at our pupils dilate. In medieval Italy, women put
belladonna into their eyes to make them look bigger. In
fact, bella donna means 'beautiful lady'. However, this is
not recommended, as belladonna is a kind of poison!

Match their moves
When people are attracted to each other, they tend to sit
or stand in the same way and copy each other's physical
gestures. This is known as 'mirroring'. When someone
does this, it marks good communication and shows us
that our interest is reciprocated. Mirroring also happens
when talking to close friends as well as potential lovers, so
be careful as you may misread signs of friendship as signs
of love.

Don't play hard to get
Research suggest that playing hard to get doesn't usually
work. However, there is a theory that we tend to fancy
people who are hard to get for everyone else, but easy for
us to get.

Scientists tested this 'selective difficulty' theory by using a
computer dating experiment. One woman was keen to
meet any of the dates that the computer selected for her.
Another played hard to get and wasn't enthusiastic
towards any of her computer matches. A third was
selective and only showed interest in one of the
candidates. Out of all three women, the choosy woman
was the most preferred by all the male participants.

Understanding lonely hearts ads
If you wrote a lonely hearts ad, what would it say about
you? Does the opposite sex find you more attractive if you
describe yourself as sexy or successful, or wealthy or

 Discover the science behind the ads by taking our
          lonely hearts test.

          Be dangerous
          Another experiment showed that if people
          experience fear on a date they often
          misinterpret that feeling as love. So dates at a
theme park are likely to be successful. A bungee jump
might seal your relationship for life!

In fact, people who both like the same level of thrills and
excitement are more likely to be compatible.

 Take our test on sensation seeking and see how your
score relates to that of your partner

What Makes You Fancy Someone?

          Appearance could be another indicator of the
          quality of a person's genes. Research suggests
          that there are certain things we all look for -
          even if we don't know it.

           Perfect symmetry
It is thought that asymmetrical features are a sign of
underlying genetic problems. Numerous studies in
humans have shown that men in particular go for women
with symmetrical faces. The preference in women for
symmetry is not quite so pronounced. Women are also
looking for a man's ability to offer food and protection.
This might not be indicated in their genes, but in their
rank and status, for example.

The hour-glass figure
Studies have shown that men prefer women with a waist
to hip ratio of 0.7. You can calculate your own using this

waist measurement ÷ hip measurement = ratio.

This seems to apply whatever the woman's overall weight.
A group of researchers even compared this ratio with the
average ratio of Miss America winners over the years. It
was exactly the same. This ratio would seem to make
sense as an indicator of a woman's reproductive health.
When women age their waist tends to become less
pronounced as they put on fat around the stomach. This
coincides with them becoming less fertile.

Learn to love yourself
Have you noticed how many married couples look quite
similar? Studies have shown that more than anything we
prefer somebody who looks just like we do. From a batch
of individual photographs people can spot who are the
couples with unnerving reliability.

Try our Match-making quiz and give it a go!

             Research has uncovered that there is a
             correlation in couples between their:
             • Lung volumes
             • Middle finger lengths
             • Ear lobe lengths
             • Overall ear size
             • Neck and wrist circumferences
             • Metabolic rates

Mummy's boys and Daddy's girls?
The latest studies indicate that what people really, really
want is a mate that looks like their parents. Women are
after a man who is like their father and men want to be
able to see their own mother in the woman of their

At the University of St Andrews in Scotland, cognitive
psychologist David Perrett studies what makes faces
attractive. He has developed a computerised morphing
system that can endlessly adjust faces to suit his needs.

Students in his experiments are left to decide which face
they fancy the most. Perrett has taken images of
students' own faces and morphed them into the opposite
sex. Of all the faces on offer, this seems to be the face
that subject will always prefer. They can't recognize it as
their own, they just know they like it.

Perrett suggests that we find our own faces attractive
because they remind us of the faces we looked at
constantly in our early childhood years - Mum and Dad.
Even the pheromone studies are now showing a
preference for our parents' characteristics.

 Examine your ability to read faces and to find your
perfect mate by taking our face perception test,
developed by Professor David Perrett.

Will it last?
Unfortunately there's no way of telling for certain if a
relationship will last. But there might be some clues in
your partner's family!

In studies of behavioral genetics it has been shown that a
person's tendency to divorce is written in their genes.
When scientists studied identical twins, they found that
whatever their degree of marriage success was, they
shared it with their sibling. Men who went through
multiple marriages were highly likely to have a twin
brother who did the same.

The numbers game
Perhaps the best indication as to whether your love will
last come from statistical studies. Researchers have come
up with several predictors for success. This is based on
how you met and when, how you resolve conflict and how
similar you and your expectations are.

Does Love Drive You Mad?

In 1990, a study in Italy indicated that people who have recently
fallen in love have some of the symptoms of 'Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder' or OCD. People with OCD behave obsessively
about certain things. They might be constantly washing their
hands, or need to continually check to see if the door is closed.
              Does love make you sad?
              Rather than making you happy, love could actually
              make you depressed. One symptom of OCD
              appears to be unusually low levels of the neuro-
              transmitter 'serotonin'. Low levels of serotonin
have been associated with anxiety and depression. Italian
students who claimed they had recently fallen in love were found
to have serotonin levels 40% lower than their peers.

However, the biochemical effect of falling in love didn't last
forever. When the same students were tested after their
relationship was a year old, their levels had returned to normal.
One author of the study has suggested that we require this
chemical response for relationships to survive. After all, we'd have
to be mad to fall in love wouldn't we?

Another interesting finding is that people with low serotonin levels
tend to have a lot of sex. If men have a particular version of a
gene known as the 'serotonin transporter', they will have lower
levels of serotonin in their brains. They tend to be more anxious
than other men and also more sexually active.

Love on the brain
Brain imaging techniques have been put to use in the name of
love. Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki at University College London
used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to take
pictures of the lover's brain.

Whilst inside the scanner, loved-up students were shown pictures
of their new flame. They were also shown images of platonic
friends of the opposite sex. Zeki and Bartels were struck by how
clear cut the pattern of brain activity was when students were
looking at their new love.

Four areas of the brain became active, and one area noticeably
inactive, when the students had love on their mind. The active
areas include one responsible for 'gut' feelings and one that is
known to respond to euphoria-inducing drugs. The lights go off
however, in the prefrontal cortex, an area that is overactive in
depressed patients.

               Sniffing out Mr or Mrs Right
               Human pheromones are a hot topic in
               research. They are odourless chemicals
               detected by an organ in the nose. Some
               scientists believe they could be the key to
choosing a suitable lover.

Love rats
Pheromones are already well understood in other
mammals, especially rodents. These animals possess
something called a 'vomeronasal organ' (or VNO) inside
          their noses. They use it to detect pheromones
          in the urine of other rats and use this extra
          sense to understand social relationships,
          identify the sex of fellow rats and find a mate.

           In 1985, researchers at the University of
           Colorado found evidence that this organ also
exists in most adult humans. So humans could also
respond to pheromones.

Rats have different pheromones in their urine, depending
on the make-up of their immune system. When rats
choose a mate, they must avoid partners with an immune
system too similar to their own, so that their babies can
fight off a wider range of infections. As well as lurking in
 urine, pheromones are also found in sweat.

 Love is...a sweaty T-shirt competition
 In 1995, Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern in
 Switzerland, asked a group of women to smell some
unwashed T-shirts worn by different men. What he
discovered was that women consistently preferred the
smell of men whose immune systems were different from
their own. This parallels what happens with rodents, who
check-out how resistant their partners are to disease by
sniffing their pheromones. So it seems we are also at the
mercy of our lover's pheromones, just like rats.
Fatherly fragrances
At the University of Chicago, Dr Martha McClintock has
shown in her own sweaty T-shirt study that what women
want most is a man who smells similar to her father.
Scientists suggest that a woman being attracted to her
father's genes makes sense. A man with these genes
would be similar enough that her offspring would get a
tried and tested immune system. On the other hand, he
would be different enough to ensure a wide range of
genes for immunity. There seems to be a drive to reach a
balance between reckless out-breeding and dangerous

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