single dating logoIs it Chemistry or is it Biology that controls Attraction?
Love and Dating Advice


Chemistry Or Biology of Love?

Just how far are we in control of our feelings when it comes to attraction?
By Stephanie Constantina and exclusive to

You've heard it said that there is 'chemistry' between a couple who are in love, or at least strongly attracted to each other. Some have taken this literally, but the term is actually being used metaphorically.

The idea really originates in the 20th century concept of the 'mad scientist' who mixes chemicals in test tubes and produces an explosive and even reason-defying reaction. In the early twentieth century in particular the new materials being made by 'mad scientists' such as the previously unknown types of plastic, must have seemed akin to magic to much of the general public.

The greatest chemical reaction regarded by fear and awe in the 20th century was of course the atomic bomb. The expression 'blond bombshell' no doubt alludes to this and fits in with the idea of a chemical reaction taking place to produce something mind-numbing, magical and incredible -- in this case a blonde female with such 'devastating' looks (note the word 'devastating' here in connection with the effect of bombs.

Who was the ultimate 'mad scientist' (the stereotype comes complete with white lab coat and German accent)? In my opinion Einstein should be at the top of the list.

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So, who was the ultimate blond bombshell of the mid-20th century? Again in my opinion, Marilyn Monroe would come first. No coincidence then that these two are often associated with each other as icons of the 20th century. The idea goes back beyond the 20th century too, the idea of two chemicals mixed together producing something like magic, something against religion, being first explored in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde).

So, if strong attraction is described as 'chemistry' but in a metaphorical rather than literal way, then what is actually going on -- literally speaking -- between two strongly attracted people? It is of course biology! We are not talking about raw chemicals mixed together in a test tube but highly complex organic compounds that are released like hormones by glands in the brain to create a state or feeling of happiness and excitement.

Personally I am not as interested in the science behind these hormonal changes when people are strongly attracted to each other, but there are many who are and who spend their time researching the matter. Dr James Pfaus of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, reports "No matter how sophisticated we think the expression of desire is, human behaviour is not so free from the action of hormones." (You can read more about his findings here: Hormones: Learning the Rules of Attraction.

What does clearly come out of this for me is that when it comes to attraction and love we are not rationally or consciously in control but subject to our biological nature, just like any other species. Of course our rational thoughts and ideas can come into play, if it is inconvenient at that time in someone's life to have these feelings (if they are for someone outside a marriage, for example), but whether our reason is strong enough to rule our biology is debatable and probably depends on the individual circumstances concerned as much as particular individuals' 'strength of character', however that might be defined (perhaps as 'moral sense').

Copyright Feb 2014 (c) 2012 Stephanie Constantina and All rights reserved. Exclusive to and may NOT be used elsewhere.

This is a big subject area and for further reading I have listed the resources below:

New Role for Oxytocin, the 'Hormone of Love'
Identification of the structure of an important area of the brain from which 'biochemical commands' are passed to the body via the bloodstream.

Hormones Converge For Couples in Love
Curiously, it appears that the hormones inside men's bodies when they fall in love become closer to those of women and vice versa.

The Science of Love and Attraction
The details of which hormones are involved in attraction, in a nice short summary, for those interested.

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