How Love Works

Only 3 percent of mammals (aside from humans) form "family" relationships like we do. See pictures of famous historical couples. LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

There are plenty of one-liners in both the film and literary versions of the vampire story "Twilight" that are known to provoke eye rolls (even among fans). But one particular sentence from lead bloodsucker Edward Cullen seems to stick with viewers and readers: "You're like my own personal brand of heroin."

While Cullen's profession of love to his mortal soulmate, Bella Swan, might seem over the top in every way, he's not totally off the mark. As it turns out, like narcotics, love can absolutely be habit-forming and even compulsive. And if you've ever been in love, you've probably at least considered classifying the feeling as an addiction. And guess what: You were right. As it turns out, your gut feeling was right — scientists have spent decades discovering how the same chemical process at play in other kinds of addiction plays a role in why, when and how that takes place with addiction takes place when we fall in love.


The truth is, love isn't simply a societal construct or a silly concept that's central to over-the-top epic romances and cheesy rom-coms. Love is a chemical state of mind that's part of our genes and influenced by our upbringing. Humans are wired for romance for many reasons, but in part because our DNA is driving us toward a path of becoming loving parents who care diligently for our helpless offspring (whether or not we choose to fulfill that destiny is of course another story, but our drive to love remains, regardless).

In this article, we'll find out what love really is and what happens in our bodies that makes us fall in love — and ensures we stay there. We'll also look at what attracts us to someone in the first place. Is it their pheromones, or do they just fit the right "love template?"