Love at First Sight or Chemical Romance?

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.  This post owes it’s existence to that aptitude.  While I was researching the Art of the Sense of Hearing in Writing Romance, I ran across an amazing article by James Hall, “Learn the Six Secrets of Chemical Romance.”

Chemical Romance?  I thought that was a musical group.

Well, apparently there’s something to it other than just a cool name for a band. 

Chemical romance is “a scientific approach to seduction that reveals how to unleash the natural chemicals in the body.”  When we are attracted to someone, our bodies release specific chemicals that produce a state of euphoria.  So if you’ve ever found an immediate attraction to someone—love at first sight—you have experienced a chemical romance.

The three chemicals that combine to create this phenomenon are oxytocin, phenylethylamine, and endorphins.  Together they produce intense feelings of pleasure within the body, hence the attraction to the person who makes you feel good. 

Oxytocin, released during sexual orgasm in both men and women, is thought to enhance the ability in humans to bond with one another.  Its production can be stimulated by other physical means as well, such as massage, and is present during child-birth, encouraging mother-child bonding.  In a study, published in 1999, researchers found “that oxytocin may be mediating emotional experiences in close relationships.”

The second ingredient in this triple-cocktail of love is phenylethylamine, or PEA.  This is “a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain that causes you to fall madly in love with someone. It is a natural form of amphetamine that floods the regions of the brain involved in sexual excitement.”  Bob Condor’s article, “A Chemistry Lesson for Lovers,” is based on the work of Professor Robert Friar and Theresa Crenshaw, a sex-therapist, experts on the “biochemistry of love.” Says Crenshaw, “PEA could well be the visual component of the chemistry of love at first sight.”

And finally, endorphins, the body’s natural morphine, accounts for the pleasurable feelings of “being in love.”  Studies have shown that blood endorphin production during sexual intercourse can increase up to 200%.  Endorphins produce a sense of well-being, of feeling soothed and at peace.  But beware!  Like many drugs, endorphins can create a “drug-like dependency.”  And there are those who become addicted to their “love high.”

Although the effects of chemical romance are fascinating, can this information help you in writing romance?  I believe that understanding how the biological or psychological mechanisms of love work in people can greatly enhance your ability to portray the same actions in your characters. 

So go back to James Hall’s Six Lessons and use some of his suggestions in your writing.  Have your characters turn the lights down low, have them feed each other sensuous food, have them “romance” each other.  Is it love or is it chemistry?  Odds are the results will be just as enticing either way.

Have you ever experienced “love at first sight?”  Have your characters?  Do you think this theory of “chemical romance” is valid or is there something else going on as well when we fall in love?

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8 Responses to Love at First Sight or Chemical Romance?

  1. Toni Kelly says:

    Great post. I do thinking knowing the biological behind our reactions is very helpful. For me, it will help me make writing transitions into love scenes more realistic yet passionate and sexy all the same. Thanks!


  2. Lisa Kumar says:

    Very good post! Lol, I remember one of my psych professors saying that the amusement park was a great place to take a first date. That chemical euphoria they feel after a rollercoster ride will later be attributed to their date:) Of couse, what one person finds exciting will differ to the next, so for some it will be a rollercoster ride while for others it may be an engaging conversation over the phone.


  3. I’ll buy the chemical reaction to love but also like to think/believe that it just happens.
    In Target Identified my two main characters, not Kebi, have been in love with each other for years but events seem to keep them apart until by accident, and isn’t it always by accident, they finally meet.


    • jennajaxon says:

      That sounds intriguing, Lindsay. They’ve been in love but haven’t met. Guess there’s not much chemical reaction until late in that romance. I think there’s always more than just the chemistry–but man, when chemistry works–combustion!


  4. You always write the most thought-provoking posts, Jenna. I learn something new with nearly every one I read.

    I think chemical romance is only part of the process of falling in love. There’s that stuff between the ears, too. Even upon first seeing someone and feeling that surge of deep attraction, and that sense of “this is the one,” there has to be a mental component asking “do I have a chance?” “what do I say?” and “is this for real?” Romance has to be about more than hormones, or our books would be mighty short!


    • jennajaxon says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Patricia. I just keep finding all these really cool ideas that, oddly enough, relate to writing romance! 🙂 I, too, think the chemistry is only one part of the overall entity that is “romance.” We are more intellectual beings than we give ourselves credit for being, so we ask ourselves the very questions you bring up. Perhaps the chemistry gives us the nudge and our hearts do the rest.


  5. Casea Major says:

    The first time I heard of chemical attraction between people was in my high school chemistry class. And I assure you my chemisry teacher, Tom Asher, evoked images not just in my hormonally saturated mind but in many of the girls. Fun post and fun trip down memory lane.


    • jennajaxon says:

      I never had to take chemistry or this might not have been news to me! I had heard bits and pieces about things like the pleasure principle of chocolate being a chemical reaction and the whole idea of phernomes and attraction. Glad this post was good for you too, Casea! LOL


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