Ein Paar steht auf einem Balkon und schaut sich in die Augen
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People in love are in an exceptional state. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) has shown that being in love activates the same parts of the brain as addiction. Totally focused on the object of their desire, people in love ignore everything else around them. Evolutionary biologists believe that these extreme feelings are important for helping couples overcome the initial feeling of awkwardness and get closer towards the goal of reproduction.

Biochemical fireworks

The state of being in love is a complex interplay between hormones and neurotransmitters. The main trigger is the happiness hormone dopamine, which is associated with the brain's rewards system and puts us in a state of ecstasy. Then there are the hormones adrenalin and noradrenaline, which have a euphoric effect and cause a racing heart and butterflies in the tummy.

Surprisingly, however, being in love throttles the production of another happiness hormone: the serotonin levels of people in love are as low as those of people with obsessive-compulsive disorders. Scientists believe that this could explain the frequently observed obsessive fixation on their partner, which is very similar to neurotic behaviour. And last but not least, there is the cuddle hormone oxytocin, which strengthens the trust and loyalty between partners.

However, it's still a mystery why we fall in love with a certain person at a certain time, although a wide range of theories and explanations have been proposed. A variety of factors such as appearance, body odour, common values and the other person's status all play a role. Even external circumstances can be decisive: it's easier to fall in love listening to beautiful music or in exciting situations, for example when you are both crossing a thrilling suspension bridge. The external stimulus actually triggered by the exciting situation is then transferred to the other person, and the brain comes to the conclusion, "I'm in love".

Do we fall in love more easily in the spring?

People seem particularly keen to flirt in the spring. After all, when nature awakens from her winter sleep, we too experience the joys of spring. It isn't just the visual stimuli such as the bright, bold colours and the scent of grass, earth and moss that lift the spirits. Sunlight has a particularly powerful effect on our well-being. The longer hours of daylight cause melatonin levels in the body to sink, which in turn makes us feel more alert. We also experience a surge of serotonin and dopamine, which makes us feel happier and more energetic.

Numerous studies have shown that sunshine influences our behaviour, making us more helpful and generous, for example. French social psychologists have found out that our chances of enjoying a successful flirt are higher when the weather's good. In one experiment, a young man stood in a pedestrian zone and asked women aged between 18 and 25 for their telephone numbers. When the weather was sunny, he was successful in 22 per cent of cases, while on cloudy days, only 14 per cent of the women he asked gave him their number.

You can fall in love at any time of the year

There's no doubt that spring lifts our spirits, but it doesn't actually have a measurable influence on the formation of relationships. There is no scientific evidence or statistics showing that we are more likely to fall in love or find our life partners in spring. Neither does the birth rate support this theory: more children are born in September than in any other month, which means that they are conceived in December rather than in the spring.

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