Media Coverage

Falling in Love Can Feel Scary—Blame Your Fight-or-Flight Response

June 27, 2023
Well + Good
In this Well+Good article, Dr. Allison Chase outlines how the emotional feeling of falling in love can elicit the same warning response from your nervous system as a "fight or flight" response. In the article, she discusses how the body responds physically and notes, “We still have the same basic body and biological functions we had 10,000 years ago. Some people's autonomic nervous system falsely activates when they are not in real danger, and they end up experiencing all the same physiological symptoms as if they were.”

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Whether it’s for a recent Hinge match, the hot family friend, or your swolemate, falling for someone is often as much a physical experience as it is an emotional one.

But in many cases, the physical symptoms you’ve been taught to associate with falling in love (quickened heart rate, butterflies, etc.) aren’t actually side effects of love. On the contrary, psychologists say those sensations may be warning signs from your sympathetic nervous system (SNS)—or more specifically, your body’s fight-or-flight response going into overdrive.

The fight-or-flight response is designed to activate when our body senses danger in order to help us survive life-threatening situations, explains clinical psychologist Allison Chase, PhD, regional clinical director with Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. This response is controlled by your sympathetic nervous system, which also manages your heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other key functions.


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