Why do we fall in love?

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1. Love is in the air

Want to know what love is? You wouldn’t be the first.

And it certainly isn’t just fools who fall in love – it seems Cupid’s arrow can strike indiscriminately and without warning.

Love can be intoxicating, devastating and every feeling in between. It has fascinated artists, poets and, of course, romantics for centuries. So what actually causes us to fall in love, and how has our view of this heart-fluttering four-letter word changed through history?

2. Let's get scientific

Watch this two-minute animation to discover what happens to our body and brain when Cupid strikes.

3. The invention of love

While people have fallen in love and, ahem, got together since the beginning of time, not all civilisations viewed love in the same way. Click on the labels to find out more.

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4. It breaks your heart

In modern relationships, marriage retains its place as the culmination of romantic love. But in the past, marriage was often an entirely separate institution, governed by more practical concerns such as land, money and power.

Today, love is generally viewed as more important than marriage – it may be the main motivator behind a wedding, but a loving couple may not marry at all. We’re told what to expect from romance, and that romance is the greatest aim of our lives, in everything from films to pop music and magazines.

In fact, in 2008 a team of psychologists at Heriot Watt University found that "romcoms" could be blamed for promoting unrealistic expectations and oversimplifying relationships, making it difficult for their die-hard fans to be happy in less than perfect relationships.

So it may be that we need to get real and consider that our idealised notion of romantic love could actually be the biggest enemy of long-term relationships.

5. What does love mean to you?

The concept of love changed and continues to change with our society.

Companionship and stability

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Companionship and stability

Modern love is all about the feeling of stability and protection we get from being with the right partner.

Butterflies and fluffiness

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Butterflies and fluffiness

Love is still the unpredictable emotion that turns our heads upside-down and makes life magical.

Perfect partnerships

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Perfect partnerships

It’s all about working together in partnership to achieve our big goals, like raising a family or running a joint business.