When was the first time you fell in love?
My son and his friends are at that age when some of them are starting to have their first crushes. While he is not there just yet, a few of his friends, and particularly the girls, are already feeling that flutter when the object of their attention walks by in the hallway. It seems like yesterday that it was me and my friends in the same situation, though watching it now as a parent is quite entertaining. While I fear the moment when he feels that first heartbreak, I know it something pretty much everyone will experience at some time.
As a parent today it’s a whole new world of falling in love by phone. In the eighties and nineties we passed notes. Now they text, send each other “selfies”, and Instagram message one another instead.
Did you know that falling in love only takes about one fifth of a second? How’s that for a Valentine’s Day fun fact?
That moment when you start to “crush” on someone (as the kids around here like to call it) is a biggie in a person’s life, no matter how young or old you are when feel it, whether it is with an elementary school classmate or having those first feelings again after a divorce. And on this, the week of Valentine’s Day, it may be a great time to talk with our kids about what happens to the body when it starts to develop those feelings.
Crushing on someone or falling in love (for our more mature audiences) makes our bodies release dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, and norepinephrine, chemicals that generate a variety of perhaps somewhat unfamiliar reactions. It is common for those who are feeling this way to have flushed faces (blushing), sweaty palms, racing hearts, a feeling of euphoria, and a range of sexual desires. Now do not panic when you hear the term “sexual desires” because they would, of course, differ based on age. For a young child that may just be the desire to kiss their crush and nothing more than that, yet. But those feelings we get, both emotional and physical? The redness that fills our faces (or those of our children) making it obvious when there is a special someone? Those are oh so real.
The physical effects of falling in love includes reduced serotonin levels, which gives us more of a feeling of euphoria. Perhaps that is also why a heartbreak can be so darn difficult to overcome, when the mind goes from a high to a low so rapidly. Soon I will be the parent trying to help my kids with crushes and heartbreaks, and while that excites me it really does scare me too. But it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s not worry about heartbreak and focus on the love part instead, shall we?