The Science of Love

Fellas, don’t be fooled this Valentine’s Day. There’s more to romance than a box of chocolates, flowers in a vase, and playing footsies under the dining room table. Let’s face it. It’s really not the thought that counts when you’re trying to woo your special someone. It’s the science behind the thought that counts. You always wondered when you’d ever use those high school science classes. Well, time to dust off that chemistry textbook and rifle through those biology notes. But, don’t worry, I’ll start you off with some unofficial Cliff Notes.

Serotonin Serotonin is a brain chemical, a neurotransmitter that reduces your partner’s stress levels and allows her to feel positive and comforted. Your wife’s serotonin levels increase when you compliment her and when she feels provided for and has her needs met. So, being sure to tell her she looks lovely on February 14 or having made dinner (and clean-up) arrangements can actually change her brain chemistry for the good.

Oxytocin Oxytocin is a hormone, sometimes known as “the cuddle chemical.” It’s the key to lasting romance. When oxytocin levels increase, passion builds. Oxytocin increases when we touch. It’s been well documented that new moms’ levels of the hormone increase while nursing. Well, the same applies as a result of touch between partners, too. When we hug, hold hands, massage, or become intimate, oxytocin levels rise, endorphins are released, and in turn, we feel the need to touch the person who’s touched us. It becomes a never-ending, giant, oxytocin-induced touch cycle that leads to more romance. So, go ahead … touch the woman, for God’s sake!

Endorphins Endorphins are the neurotransmitters that our brains release to reward us for good behavior. When we win, laugh, exercise, have sex, or fall in love, endorphins are released. It’s why we want to continue winning, laughing, exercising, having sex, and falling in love. Endorphins motivate and energize us. They make us feel happy and alive. When you support your sweetheart and romance her, her oxytocin and serotonin levels increase, which leads to endorphins being released in her brain. Thus, she feels terrific due to your attempts at romance. In other words, sweep her off her feet this Valentine’s Day. Show her through your actions that she is your one and only.

Men’s Chemistry Don’t think that only women are biochemically tied to romance. When you attempt to romance your partner (you send the kids to Grandma’s and prepare a candlelight dinner before she gets home from work), you become anxious wondering if your attempts will be successful. If they are, you feel appreciated and dopamine levels rise. Suddenly, because you’ve attempted and succeeded in romance, you’re feeling motivated and energized. As a result, the levels of testosterone (the hormone of desire) increase. You become caring and compassionate, which releases endorphins, and here we are, back again at happiness and contentment.

So, this Valentine’s Day, when you’re working that mojo of yours, realize that not only are you building a deeper connection between you and your valentine, but you’re actually affecting her (and your own) brain chemistry in a positive and refreshing way. Love is a science. It’s chemical, physiological, and hormonal. And the cool thing about romance is that experimentation is not limited to just one day a year. The doors to the laboratory of love are open all year ’round.

4·1·1 Leon Scott Baxter is author of Nine Months of Romance and Out of the Doghouse: A Man’s Secret Survival Guide to Romance. Visit or; call 570-3213.

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