The Deal With the ‘Butterflies in the Stomach’ Myth
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we?
No, despite the name, it’s safe to say you do not have fluttering insects shifting around in your stomach. While that “butterfly” feeling can be quite reminiscent of the aforementioned bugs flying around, there’s much more to it than that.
While more commonly related to dating and romance, this feeling is also just a sign that our gut and our mind are connected as one.
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Because there are millions of nerves in the stomach, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to believe our emotions can impact our bodies in a number of ways, including having the feeling of butterflies,” says Dr. Frowsa Booker-Drew.
“When my daughter has dealt with butterflies because of dating or anything, I often tell her to pay attention to the feeling. If you are having anxiety, is it because you are excited, nervous or apprehensive about this date? Don’t ignore the feeling and trust your instincts. Don’t detach from your emotions.”
Another way of interpreting this unique rush of feeling in your gut? Think of it as another version of the “fight-or-flight” response triggered by adrenaline or dopamine in our bodies.
“Butterflies in your stomach was born from that nervous feeling you get in your tummy, caused by lowered blood flow, when something is overwhelming,” says Destin Pfaff and Rachel Federoff, relationship experts and matchmakers from Love and Matchmaking.
“When we get suddenly stressed by something that can overtake us, let’s say love … BOOM, butterflies. Our body is telling us that this human creature we are instantly falling in love with is amazing and can have some sort of control over us. We either need to run to him/her and indulge in the passion, or run away because it’s too much and we aren’t ready for love. Listen to them, their little flutters can speak volumes.”
But don’t get so caught up that you confuse the “butterfly” feeling for something that it’s not. According to Connell Barrett, founder of DatingTransformation.com and dating coach with The League, many confuse that mushy, intense taste of love for something that’s actually much more in line with none other than lust.
“It’s just brain chemicals telling you that you have a strong romantic desire,” he says. “Yes, love and devotion may arise in time, but early on those fluttery feelings are just a psycho-chemical reaction to wanting to jump someone’s bones. You’re not madly in love. You’re madly in lust.”
While you’ll likely never feel that flutter with someone who you have no real interest in, here’s a pro tip to remember: After you’ve found yourself a partner, a loss of butterflies doesn’t mean the love is gone, too.
“Those floaty sensations naturally dissipate within the first nine to 12 months of dating,” notes Barrett. “A good relationship is much deeper than the feelings that arise from brain chemicals. Don’t end things too soon. Butterflies are just the beginning.”