The Science Behind Falling in Love

The five senses play a huge role in determining whom you'll fall in love with.

ByABC News via logo
February 12, 2009, 9:04 AM

Jan. 17, 2008 — -- So many factors go into falling in love, but new studies prove that it may be less about romance and more about science and that it all boils down to your five senses.

For Terry Ornelas falling in love was a scene straight out of a movie.

When she spotted Daniel Woodroffe across a crowded restaurant in Austin, Texas, she said "my insides just dissolved into butterflies."

"When he smiled it just made me so happy and it was such a strange emotion to have with somebody you've never spoken to before have met before I couldn't explain it," Ornelas said.

Falling in love is driven by the desire to reproduce, and researchers say when it comes to finding the right mate, science is providing new clues as to how the brain and the five senses collide to create the perfect storm of love.

"You slowly winnow out those individuals who don't look the part, feel the part, touch the part and you are left with the kind of person who you think is right for you. And at that point, boom!" said Rutgers University anthropology professor Helen Fisher.

Researchers say there is some truth to "love at first sight."

"A high forehead, big eyes, a small nose, certainly clear skin. All of these things suggest youth because that's the way a baby looks," said Jeffrey Kluger, the science editor at Time magazine.

There is also "love at first taste and smell." The first kiss can literally serve as a taste test for true love.

"There can be testosterone in men's saliva. The man is sort of slipping a chemical mickey that acts as an aphrodisiac on the woman," Kluger said.

That kiss could potentially determine whether a couple's genes are compatible enough to produce a healthy offspring.

When you kiss, a cluster of genes called MHC are exchanged in the mouth through saliva. If your genes are too similar there could be problems carrying a baby to term.

Perhaps the most primal indicator of attraction comes from your nose.