Oxytocin and love, or why don’t you just touch me already?

15 02 2013
oxytocin-nasal-health-060812

This can be yours. Just sniff.

I love the luxury I have as a retired person to lie in bed and listen to the radio on the morning.
Sometimes, though, what I hear sends me rocketing into my day, filled with rage or wonderment.
Yesterday, in time for Valentine’s Day, there was a report on the Current about using oxytocin spray to improve failing relationships.
Prairie voles, normally the type of mammal you meet at bars on a Saturday night, don’t have long term relationships with their females. Shoot them some oxytocin and they cleave to their main woman (though they still cheat), heading back to her at the end of a night of partying.
Why this is seen as a benefit, I’m not sure (if you cheat, I would rather you just stay away, thanks).
Some folks are thinking of creating nasal spray oxytocin to help people in failing marriages feel bonded to one another and stick it out for longer.
Oxytocin is the “touch” hormone. We create it naturally with babies when we hold them, nurse them, smell them. We do the same with other adults – building up the hormone as we touch and cuddle and stroke and hold. We create it when we pat cats and play with dogs, when we sit on the couch with our surly teenagers and touch shoulders, when we hug our friends. All of these things make us want to spend more time with the object of our affection.
Maybe the marriage is failing because there hasn’t been enough loving touch. I hardly feel a snort of oxytocin will repair that loss of contact.
Why not just arrange to spend some time together?
I always fell more in love with my husband when we’d hang out together, talking and bumping shoulders and laughing. Unfortunately for our marriage, those times were so few that by the time the kids grew up, I’d fallen out of love. The fault was with both of us- busy, tired, distracted.
Another long time sweetie of mine would request cuddles for oxytocin – it never failed to make me feel more warmly toward him, even if I was grumpy or tired or wanting to be distant.
So hey, all of you, clinging to a sinking ship of a relationship, try the hug now and again. Don’t make it sexual – that implies you are only doing it for your own reward. Just hug. Sit side by side. Touch.
Don’t hope that a magic potion will keep things magic. You might actually have to DO something.

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