Finding love is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack, while maintaining it can be even harder. Love and sex are inextricably intertwined in a convoluted and sometimes mysterious way. The word “love” has so many different connotations that it is hard to define. Sex, in all its forms, is a little more exacting and dating is a minefield.

However, before dipping your toe into the ever-changing currents of the dating ocean, you should ensure you have a clean bill of sexual health.  This helps to protect both you and a future partner against potential long term health issues.

Here we look at what love actually is, along with some of the chemical and hormonal drivers, while also providing a guide on ways to attract and find a partner.  We will also show you how Better2Know can help you check your sexual health.

What is Love?

Scientists in various fields ranging from psychiatry to anthropology have often pondered the same question – what is love? A team of scientists led by Helen Fisher, PhD in Physical Anthropology and Research Associate at Rutgers (published by Harvard University in 2017), reported that love can be broken down into 3 categories. These are lust, attraction, and attachment, all of which have their own set of hormones.

3 categories of love

Lust is propelled by the need for sexual gratification and an evolutionary desire to reproduce. The hypothalamus of the brain plays a key role, stimulating production of the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen.

Attraction involves the brain pathways that control “reward” behaviours. Dopamine and norepinephrine are produced by the hypothalamus and high levels of this are released during attraction causing us to feel giddy and exhilarated. During the attraction phase there is a reduction in serotonin which affects your appetite and mood. People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder have reduced levels of serotonin leading scientists to theorise this is connected to that all-consuming infatuation phase.

Known as the “cuddle hormone”, oxytocin features highly in long-term relationships which is the 3rd category – attachment. It is produced along with vasopressin by the hypothalamus and is associated with bonding.

Lust, attraction, and attachment are not solely about breaking down love in an analytical way. To find that elusive needle you may require tools in the form of a practical guide.

10 Step Guide to Dating and Attraction

  1. Be yourself. There is nothing more alluring than a genuine person
  2. Love your own self and practice self-care
  3. Have your own interests and hobbies and an independent and fulfilled life
  4. Be charming, flirtatious, and generous with your compliments
  5. Do not have set ideas and box yourself into a type, be open minded
  6. Invest in your health and make sure you have a clean bill of sexual health
  7. Surround yourself with those who inspire you and take time to understand the person you are getting to know
  8. Set your own boundaries, you should always feel respected and acknowledged and move on swiftly if that is not recognised
  9. Do not come across as needy and insecure. This is a highly unattractive quality
  10. Be the best you can be – amplify your best qualities both physically and emotionally and retain a heart and mind which is open to being loved

What do the experts say about love?

Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Richard Schwartz explains that “like the moon – a trigger of its own legendary form of madness – love has its phases. There are different phases and moods of love. The early phase of love is quite different from later phases”.

Love is a complex and sometimes ambiguous subject and people can often find it in the most unexpected of places.  With this in mind you should consider regular sexual health checks to ensure you acquire a clean bill of sexual health, before entering into a relationship. This is vital to give you an understanding of your own overall sexual health and protect you and your new partner´s future long-term health prospects.

How can you check your sexual health?

Better2Know can assist you in taking care of your sexual health.  If you are worried about your sexual health including STIs or HIV, then speak in confidence with one of our well-trained team, who are here to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

We offer many individual STI tests along with comprehensive STI Screens which are created by medical experts, such as our Peace of Mind Screen which tests for Chlamydia, Syphilis and Gonorrhoea.  We can arrange discreet testing at a clinic near you, with a private nurse visit, or you can order a convenient home test kit.


[1] Harvard University: Love, Actually: The science behind lust, attraction, and companionship

[2] The Harvard Gazette: When love and science double date

[3] 15 habits to help you attract the right partner in your life

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