Did I eat butterflies? – opdracht

When you were little, you probably grew up with fairy tales of the pretty, underprivileged girl who ends up with her knight in shining armour. They had to face a lot of struggles and battles, but in the end, love conquers all. When we grow up, fairy tale love turns into heartbreak and you are longing for that butterfly feeling that everyone describes in movies. But what is this butterfly feeling everyone is so enthusiastic about?

Fight or flight

To explain what butterflies are, we must go all the way back to the prehistoric times when the hunter-gatherers wandered around the earth. When a hunter sees a lion, he has two choices: fight or flight. In that moment, the body starts calculating what the odds are that you survive when you run or that you have to fight your fears. This feeling of fear is caused by adrenaline and affects your whole body. Your heart starts pumping blood to your muscles and you start breathing faster. When your blood goes to your muscles, less blood goes to your stomach, simply because it is less efficient to work on processing your food when you have to run for your life. This all helps to get your body ready for take-off.

When you fall in love the same thing happens. Someone makes your heart skip a beat and triggers your fight or flight senses. You may be really stressed because you see a pretty girl and are afraid to talk to her (flight), or you are angry that the most popular guy in school doesn’t pay attention to you while you worked so hard (fight). When this happens, adrenaline makes you feel more alert. Consequently, blood rushes away from your stomach, leaving you with a tingling sensation that feels like butterflies. In short, physically, falling in love feels like facing a lion and fighting for your life.  

Don’t sweat it

Some people may feel this kind of stress for a few minutes, while others have to deal with it for more than half an hour. It all depends on who you are as a person. Shy people are more sensitive for the stress hormone, which gives a more severe reaction when they meet their true love. So are you the type of person that is really shy and sweats a lot before a presentation? You might be blown away by true love, physically and mentally.

In the end, it all sounds a lot less romantic. It may feel as if someone has punched you in the gut and you are about to throw up, but don’t fear. There are no butterflies coming out of you any time soon.

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