Note: This article is written for men, because I realied this while talking with a male friend – but the insights are equally applicable to women, except for one paragraph.
Note 2: This is not something that’s proven in any way – this is just my personal theory based on what I know about human psychology and when love tends to happen. With that, read it and make up your own mind as to whether you believe it or not. But I happen to be pretty certain that that this is roughly the mechanisms that drive this feeling of “love” that we get, and why we act so irrationally when we fall into it.
What we will call “love” in this document, i.e. the feeling of falling for someone and not being able to help yourself from thinking about the other person and acting in completely irrational and uncontrollable ways, happens when one person invests in another, and the other is good at giving hope and then pulling it away in such a skilled fashion that the first person invests again, this time slightly more, and the cycle repeats itself.
How does this lead to love?
Love is, scientifically in the brain, a mixture between dopamine and serotonin, combined with sexual attraction for a person.
When you invest in a person, you get the dopamine reward of the other person’s validation.
If the other person then pulls back with just the right amount, you will experience a slight dopamine expectancy to another investment. So you invest again, and get the reward again.
When this cycle repeats itself a couple of times, you get “dopamine addicted” to the other person, and to the investments you make. You can’t help yourself – just like the rat who pressed the lever again and again, due to dopamine expectancy.
But dopamine addiction is not love. It also needs serotonin. So how do you get serotonin in there?
The thing with investment is, it doesn’t have to be “physical action”. Mental effort is enough. And when you are dopamine addicted, you can’t help but thinking about the other person, and strategies and tactics for how to get the other person’s validation (which is what leads to your dopamine kick).
Part of this strategizing is done to rationalize to yourself why the investment is worth it – i.e. to motivate yourself (or backwards-rationalize to yourself why investing in her is worth it), you start imagining what a good couple you’ll be. All the fun things you will do. What a good life you will live.
This mental imagigning of how good things will be feels great – in fact, it feels just like the real thing. You imagine it vividly – how you’ll make your home, how you’ll build a family, how you’ll have fun at your friends’ house. All this gives you the same serotonin rush as if it would have been real – because in your mind, it is real, it is there, if you just fight for it and get it.
You can’t help but to think about this imagined future together – after all, your brain is hijacked by the dopamine addition, that compels you to act in ways that you can’t find other ways to explain to yourself, than if you imagine this fantastic future together.
Thus, you invest again – this time again slightly harder! And you get the dopamine kick (her validation) from it – and if she’s skilled at this, which many girls are (consciously or unconsciously – after all, they get their dopamine kicks from guys investing in them, and their validation) – then she will know exactly how much to validate you, and how much to pull back to take you close to the breaking point, but not quite there – instead just enough to make you invest one more time, harder again.
And so, you suddenly find yourself compelled to do things, think about her, and are as powerless to stop yourself, as the rats pushing the dopamine lever over and overa again, until they die.
(The irony of ironies here is that if you would get this girl, she would never be able to fulfill the fantastical fantasies you’ve built up – hence you’ll never get the happiness that only the serotonin would be able to give you. But, you would still be dopamine addicted, and never be able to stop those fantasies with her. Thus, you’d be compelled to stay in, and in fact completely stuck in, a relationship that can only make you unhappy.)
(Edit: If your serotonin comes from fantasies you’ve built up because your dopamine addition compels you to imagine things about your life will be with her, then you will never be able to be happy in a relationship with this person – you will instead be perpetually stuck, against your will, engulfed in unhappiness, in a relationship you can never leave, but which you will want to leave. If, however, your serotonin comes from actual, consistent, real memories from spending time with her, then it is a relationship you have a chance to be happy in.)