Evolved to love.
We learned to love on an evolutionary scale. Far from the places where we are now, the need to nurture and show altruistic behavior evolved not only in humans but many species. But how did we evolve to love?Well that came in the form of brain chemicals and need. We need to be cared for just as much as we care. Humans are biologically driven beings and love is a biological need.
What we call love is really based on a raise in the levels of oxytocin in our brain. The chemicall need for nurturing. So why are these so important and how does this work? This takes on an amazing journey through time and evolution, back to the mesozoic, when dinosaurs and small mammals walked the land.
We used to think dinosaurs were cold blooded creatures who left their offspring in eggs, in a nest, abandoned to fend for themselves, but now we know that Dino's made good moms and dads. Which means that the need to nurture is as old as 244 million years, or more. We are not sure when nature molded offspring to be nurtured but it did. Yet we know from studying them that their offspring had the same features as our tiny offspring.
The tale is in the big heads, over sized eyes,shortened faces, and beaks of offspring. All anyone has to do is look at a cute baby animal and the response is automatic. This was also true for baby dinos. they looked adorable enough to their mother, that she could not help but care take them. Which is just as nature intended. All we have to do is look at them and in those few seconds our brain is busy producing the chemicals needed to respond to the nurturing call. Oxytocin is a major player here. It gives us the urge caretake the offspring, sometimes even if it is not our own species.
"Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the circulation through the neurohypophyseal system. Peripherally released oxytocin facilitates parturition and milk ejection during nursing. Centrally released oxytocin coordinates the onset of maternal nurturing behavior at parturition and plays a role in mother-infant bonding."
Published online 2009 May 28. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2009.05.004
What this means is that the release of oxytocin pushes us to bond. This not only happens with infants but with our mate as well. It can make or break a relationship. Just an act of kindness can stimulate the production of oxytocin, and a few seconds later your feeling the love. This also happens during sex. Not only do women produce it, but men do as well. There are good reasons for this. it is hard to make offspring if love is one sided, or even the urge to mate. Yet not everyone stimulates our need. This is based upon characteristics of the idea mate. Ones we have built in for ourselves. Once we recognize these, the urge to pair bond and/or mate begins. Us humans have very long rituals before we mate, usually, but our bodies are still producing oxytocin. It is what keeps attracting us to each other.
You can find trace amounts of oxytocin in sperm, something that was a shock a few years ago when it was initially found. That is because there is no actual need for oxytocin to be there. Scientists are studying if the presence of oxytocin in the semen is to stimulate the pair bonding urge in the female, and make her feel closer to her mate for just a little longer after intercourse. But they guys are feeling it too. It is after semen is released that testosterone is low, estrogen goes up and oxytocin levels are higher. This makes the male want to cuddle. Or at least usually. It gives him the feeling of conncetion to the female. As well as makes him sleepy.
The love we feel for each other is basically driven by sexual attraction, in some form or another. Even male to female friends. That is fine because not all of us really want to mate, but find some aspects of mate worthy behavior in our opposite sex companions. Just being close to them can stimulate oxytocin, and give us the feeling of connection. So we are all driven by an oxytocin kind of love.
Studies have also shown that people who produce less oxytocin during child hood are often more depressed, and have a harder time at love. Just the lack of oxytocin can cause us to feel blue, sad, hurt or alone. So one act of kindness for a person is enough to stimulate that much needed oxytocin production.
If this is all true, how do we make love last? Well it has been noted that couples who engage in more sex tend to stay together longer. they are more bonded by the release of oxytocing. In fact oxytocin can become addictive, so if someone is giving you a daily dose of it, you are less likely to leave them. Because your body craves that good feeling. it is part of the reason that we behave altruistically. So if you want to live and love, give a little, get a lot.
It is not just your brain playing tricks on you. It is an important biological need. One that humans are helpless without. We need each other to be producing oxytocin. In fact just say, "I love you." to someone you feel love about. In those seconds when the words are returned you body is producing the chemical messenger that will change your composure, dialate blood vessles, stimulate your body and make you want to be close to them. This is an important reaction. it ishow we have society, family and each other. Oxytocin is the power of love.