Science explains why love makes the heart go aflutter

Stomach Butterflies. Courtesy of Google Images.

Many people would probably agree that butterflies do, in fact, exist somewhere in our abdominal region and that they only become active when they sense the presence of somebody special. Whether you have labeled them as parasites or welcome insect companions, it is interesting and helpful to understand why they exist, how to invoke their metamorphosis and how to keep them from migrating when a relationship starts to go cold.

Human emotion is thought to break down into two parts: the physiological arousal that we experience and the belief or cognition as to what caused that arousal. Sometimes the process is simple. When you see someone ride away on the pirate bike you were about to grab, your heart may beat faster and your temperature may rise. You might think, “I am feeling angry because that jerk just stole my pirate bike.”

Other times the experience is more ambiguous, such as when we are affected by multiple things at once. Excitation transfer theory says that sometimes excitement or arousal from one experience may enhance or amplify the excitatory response to another. For example, studies have found that if people are aroused by an activity such as exercise or riding a roller coaster, they will rate strangers to be more physically attractive afterwards. This idea suggests that because someone’s heart is beating faster from one activity, they may feel more of an attraction towards another person. This sensation may be caused by a misattribution of their arousal.

There is still much to be discovered about how humans perceive themselves, specifically regarding the question of what comes first, the physical feeling or the thought. Some believe that we learn about ourselves the same way that we learn about other people, through observing ourselves. By applying this idea to our sentiments, is it possible that the emotions we experience are just our best explanations for what we are feeling?
Regardless, this misattribution is frequently seen in dating and, in fact, might be one of the most important components to a successful date, and especially a first date. As important as it may be to talk to someone and get to know them over a meal, if you want to evoke the butterflies’ kiss, you may need to come up with a more elaborate game plan.

A good first date or a date intended to re-spark a stagnant relationship should be something fun that evokes feelings or emotion. Also, whether it is physical activity or active thought, a good date should require action that someone will be able to remember not only by what they saw or did but by how they felt. Chances are some aspect of that memory will be associated with you.

Keeping this in mind, a pair could go on a bike ride, play racquetball, go for a run, go horseback riding, watch a thrilling movie, go to an amusement park, go to a comedy club, go camping, go for a hike, go to a slam poetry event, go bowling, go kayaking or go dancing.

Also effective but not recommended, two could take ecstasy which was once prescribed to couples with marital problems before it became illegal in the mid 1980s. Its euphoric and arousing qualities are easily and often associated with one’s partner in crime. The bottom line is that whatever you two are into, pick something that will evoke a feeling you by which you would like to be remembered.

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