Intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people.
Why? Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate.
Studies suggest that the brain in this phase is much like a brain on drugs"
- Susan Watts
|© Getty Images|
YOUR BODY ON LUST
Anyone who's claimed 'love at first sight' might have their L-words mixed up.
When it comes to instant attraction, it's your brain - not your heart - that kicks in.
0 TO 5 SECONDS
Here's how it works: you spot a hot stranger and, before you can even say hello, your brain has processed his voice, face and pheromones.
The less like you he smells, the more aroused you’ll become – so lay off the Old Spice, ladies.
Your brain’s ventral tegmental area lights up and begins churning out dopamine, the same chemical responsible for feelings of elation – and the high that comes with certain drugs.
Now that’s an addiction we can get on board with.
At the same time, the areas of your mind that handle negative emotions are suppressed, allowing the fact that he’s just burped to go virtually unnoticed.
If you’re ovulating, you may be drawn to more masculine traits like a chiselled jawline or deep voice.
If you have your period, a guy with softer, more feminine features is more appealing.
The spot deep in your brain that deals with memories is recording his every move and feature, subtly comparing him with last loves. Totally healthy.
AFTER 5 MINUTES
Your brain has revved up its hormone control centre to shoot out chemical signals to your ovaries. Dot-dot, dash-dash-dot…dashing.
The brain also signals the adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline – so that’ll explain the pounding heart, sweaty palms and maniacal intense focus.
Meanwhile, your body is busy producing testosterone, the male hormone often associated with aggression and risk-taking.
After all, it’s hard to communicate when you’re feeling shy – and everyone loves a spot of angry flirting.
AFTER 10 MINUTES
While you’re giddy-drunk on the potent cocktail of adrenaline, dopamine and testosterone, your brain prompts the pituitary gland to produce oxytocin, the hormone thought to promote bonding – and monogamy.
TIP: If you normally prefer a foppish Hugh Grant to a beefy Hugh Jackman, don't worry if he suddenly loses his appeal. When you're ovulating, you're more attracted to men with strong masculine features. The wandering eyes will pass.
WITHIN A FEW MONTHS
If you’re truly smitten, your brain steps up its production of nerve growth factor, a protein that may increase mental capacity.
Sadly, it returns to normal after a year of commitment, so now’s the time to embark on a pub-quiz tour.
Newfound passion might also trigger adrenal glands to shoot out the stress hormone cortisol.
But unlike the cortisol that comes with most chronic anxiety, this short-term version makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and can boost your arousal. It’s stress, but sexy stress.
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