There's a reason it's called falling in love, and not gliding into love or drifting into love. Falling in love is intense and thrilling, and contrary to what the cynics might say, not all in your head. Falling in love has real physiological effects, some that are pleasant and some not so much. Wondering what's going with your love interest? These are are eight physical changes that happen in men’s bodies when they fall in love. Some are invisible, but some certainly aren't... so keep your eyes peeled on your next date to see if those fireworks you're feeling seem mutual.
First dates can be daunting. What if it's horribly awkward, or your date seems completely disinterested? What if you embarrass yourself? In my opinion, the only thing more nerve-wracking than a first date is walking into a second date with someone you really like. There's nothing quite like those first few weeks and months of a special relationship — some might call it the honeymoon phase but let's be real, it's also the heart-pounding, stomach-churning, sweaty-hands phase. Just know that, male or female, we're all experiencing the butterflies: the anxiety with the giddiness, the euphoria with the self-doubt. And also know, of course, that it's all worth it for the right person.
1. He Gets A Rush Of Dopamine.
It's true: when a man is falling in love with you, you're basically his drug of choice. Pat Mumby, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic stated, "Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions." The article, which was published on Science Daily, explained that one of the most notable chemicals is dopamine, which creates feelings of happiness,
In a 2005 study in The Journal of Comparative Neurology noted this flood of dopamine through the use of fMRI. Researchers discovered that participants who reported to be in love had increased brain activity in two "dopamine-rich" areas, the right caudate nucleus and the right ventral tegmental area. Do you notice that your man can't stop smiling? Well, that's due to the dopamine rush you just gave him.
2. His Pupils Dilate.
When it comes to love and attraction, a man's eyes can give him away. In addition to the euphoria that rush of dopamine can give a man, it can also cause his pupils to dilate. In a 2017 study from the University of Kent published in EurekAlert!, researchers found that, "People's eyes dilate when they are looking at people they find sexually appealing." Sure, this could also indicate lust instead of long-term love, but it's still a fascinating sign to watch out for.
3. His Heart Rate Quickens.
Yes, it's totally normal to feel like your heart is beating out of your chest when you're falling in love. Remember those "feel-good" chemicals I mentioned earlier? Along with dopamine, a man falling in love gets a rush of norepinephrine, a hormone responsible for a racing, pounding heart, among other things, Encyclopaedia Britannica explained. In fact, this is the same hormone released when he's fearful or stressed – but this time, it has a different effect.
A 2016 study in The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism stated, "Indeed, some of the signs commonly associated with love — anxiety palpitations, increased peristalsis, are manifestations of the stress response (albeit in a pleasurable way)." If you go in for a hug and feel a runaway heartbeat, it's a good sign that he may be in the earliest stages of love.
4. He May (Temporarily) Lose His Appetite.
If you've ever forced down a meal on a date, this one might not be too surprising. When a man is falling in love, it's not uncommon for him to lose his appetite, or even become nauseated. Some describe it as "butterflies in your stomach," but they can feel a lot more like a flock of wild geese. Dr. Kat Van Kirk, a clinical sexologist and licensed marriage and family therapist, calls this feeling "lovesickness."
"Lovesickness may actually be the stress hormone cortisol contracting the blood vessels in your stomach, making you feel sick," Dr. Kirk told Health.com. In other words, if a man is much more focused on you than he is his meal, things are looking good.
5. His Pain Tolerance Increases.
Fascinatingly, a man falling in love may be more immune to pain than he was prior. In a 2010 fMRI study from at Stanford University, researchers discovered that viewing a picture of a romantic partner can decrease self-reported pain to moderate and high thermal pain.
The research stated, "Greater analgesia while viewing pictures of a romantic partner was associated with increased activity in several reward-processing regions, including the caudate head, nucleus accumbens, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — regions not associated with distraction-induced analgesia." In simpler terms, this means that the pain-relief associated from viewing a romantic partner's photo can't simply be attributed to the subject being distracted. Rather, it was due to activation of the brain's reward system... because seeing the person you love is always a reward, of course.
6. He May Get A Bit Sweaty.
It's not the most attractive quality, but the increase of norepinephrine in a man's system can cause an increase in sweat, as well, ASDN explained. The same hormone that causes his heart rate to skyrocket causes his sweat glands to get busy, causing a nice, glistening forehead or pit stains. If he feels a bit clammy when he holds your hand, get excited! After all, he can't help the effect you have on him.
7. His Serotonin Levels Drop.
While his levels of dopamine, cortisol, and norepinephrine raise, his levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin drop. Serotonin plays a role in mood regulation, according to Everyday Health, so what does it mean if a man's levels suddenly decrease?
You know that feeling when you've just met someone that you're crazy about, and they're all you can think about? Blame it on the serotonin (or lack thereof). Richard Schwartz, a Harvard Medical School professor and couples therapist, says low serotonin levels can cause the “intrusive, maddeningly preoccupying thoughts, hopes, terrors of early love."
8. His Testosterone Levels Drop, Too.
In addition to serotonin, his testosterone levels actually may be dropping if he's falling in love with you, too. A 2004 study in Psychoneuroendocrinology studied the hormone levels in 24 subjects (male and female) who had fallen in love within the last six months. Researchers discovered that "testosterone levels were lower in men in love, while women of the same group presented higher testosterone levels."
Interestingly, researchers could not pinpoint a cause for this change in testosterone levels and all levels had returned to normal levels within a year.