There’s much more to love than you might think writes Rachel Quilligan.

Love’s not as simple as a box of chocolates and a bouquet of roses.
The science behind finding a mate shows many biological factors play a part in romance, and the trappings of courtship often originate from traditions that are centuries old. We investigated some of the most fascinating facts about love …

  •  The presence of a loved one can help a  sick or injured person’s pain levels—even just looking at a picture of a loved one can help to relieve pain.
  • Men are much more likely to say ‘I love you’ first.
  • Broken Heart Syndrome is an actual condition that occurs when deep emotional triggers, such as break ups or the loss of a loved one, cause distress in the brain. It results in chest pain or shortness of breath that can often be misdiagnosed as a heart attack.
  • The Ancient Greeks believed that the fourth finger on the left hand contained the vein of love that runs to the heart, vena amoris—this is why engagement rings are worn on that finger.
  • Love really does drive us crazy. Couples in the early stage of love have similar levels of serotonin and cortisol as people with anxiety disorders, contributing to sometimes  out-of-character behaviour.
  • Love really is a drug—when we fall in love dopamine levels in the brain rise in the same way as when a drug like cocaine is taken.
  • In Ancient Rome a kiss was a legal bond to seal contracts; this is why marriage ceremonies end with a kiss.
  • Your position among siblings can influence your romantic life. The most successful marriages are between those who are the oldest sister of brothers and the youngest brother of sisters, while two firstborns, who tend to be more aggressive, create higher levels of tension. The highest divorce rates are when an only child marries another only child.
  • People are more likely to fall in love if they meet in a dangerous situation than if they meet in a mundane setting.
  • After facing each other for three minutes in a recent study, the heartbeats of long-term couples began to beat in sync, compared to strangers whose pulses did not match up. It was the woman’s heart that adjusts to the man’s.
  • People tend to fall in love with those that look like themselves in face, hair and eye colour.
  • In several studies, strangers were asked to stare into each other’s eyes for three minutes, and afterwards many reported feelings of ‘passionate love’ for one another.
    This is because eye contact causes the body to produce phenylethylamine, a chemical that is associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response, which is also triggered upon seeing a potential mate.
  • Expressing gratitude to those you love generates an immediate spike in your own happiness, so feel the rush of love this Valentine’s Day and let those close to you
    know you care.

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