Why love can feel addictive – oxytocin
NEWS FLASH – when were you last in-love?
Can you remember how it felt?
That’s it, remember the internal glow, the vibrancy racing through your body and the feeling that life was as juicy as a ripe peach?
That is the powerful and addictive nature of love hormones.
Delicious, scrumptious, enchanting and ADDICTIVE!
Oh yes getting addicted to love is a real thing.
Falling in-love boosts many hormones in our body and these are addictive, delicious and bring incredibly positive changes in our physiology.
Unfortunately falling-out-of-love also results in plummeting hormones and withdrawal affects as seen when you take candy away from a baby.
What are love hormones?
What happens to our bio-chemistry when we fall in love?
When we fall in love we get a natural boost in our “love hormone” oxytocin.
Oxytocin is our connection hormone and goes up when we have babies (to foster bonding) and when we are doing activities with others that foster a “bond”.
Dopamine is our fun and pleasure hormone and it simultaneously goes up when we fall in love.
It is the drop in these yummy hormones that creates the heart ache when it all goes sour.
In part A on Addicted to Love, I will discuss oxytocin and ways you can naturally increase your levels. In part B I will discuss dopamine.
And it’s the cause of many over-texting, desperado attempts and doings to get our “lover back”.
Whether we like it or not, falling in love seems to raise our oxytocin levels (some more than others) and this will make us crave connection with our partner.
Is it healthy to be addicted to our partner?
You may be that incredible, self-assured, successful woman who has little need for a guy but once you are in-love, you lose all sense of individuality and decisions become based around your lover.
It’s nature and very hard to combat.
So should you be fighting oxytocin?
I don’t think so. I think put some strict measures in place before you fall in-love and when the universe starts to send suitors your way, just refer to your list and be strong (and ruthless) before you fall in love. Which for us girls may only be 3-4 meetings.
Oxytocin is incredible and I liken it to an amazing desert wine. You don’t need much but it lights-up receptors of warmth all throughout your body.
It keeps us feeling connected, loved and nurtured.
It makes us want to nest and breed.
For the right guy it is fairly easy to keep the levels high for us. They just need to hugs us every day, give us a compliment, connect with us and boom the addiction goes on.
It is the antidote to stress, to worry, to insecurity. So now wonder when we get a smidge of oxytocin, we want more.
John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) has some good tips on raising oxytocin.
I have been studying testosterone levels in women for years (the anger survival, corporate female hormone). It is the topic in my best seller Beauty and the Beast Within and has helped hundreds of women world wide understand themselves better.
There are many ways to drop testosterone and the most potent that I have observed is to boost your oxytocin levels. Have you ever tried to be angry and in-love? It just doesn’t happen.
Based on my research, observation and personal experience I have put together TEN ways to boost your oxytocin levels naturally.
Ten ways to boost oxytocin naturally
I call activities that boost your oxytocin levels green light activities.
These are activities that when you are doing them you immerse your mind, body and soul so much that time sits still. For me these are activities like art, journaling, playing guitar, bush walking, art galleries, writing, cooking organic foods, travelling, charity work, sex, meditating.
When doing these activities you should experience a calm BUZZ.
- Increase social interaction
Join a club, hang out with friends, go out somewhere. Just don’t stay at home on the couch alone
- Giving gifts has been shown to increase oxytocin!
Especially if you don’t expect anything in return
3. Dancing was shown by Prof Zak in his book The Moral Molecule to increase oxytocin by 11%
4. Watch an emotional movie – even a tear jerker! Once again the empathy we feel creates a surge in oxytocin
5. Social Media
I find this interesting as this was a study I wanted to do one day but Prof Zak as beaten me to it – 100% of people in his research increased their oxytocin levels after being on social media. It’s all about connection
- Do something risky with someone else – eg roller coaster ride, tandem sky jump, bike ride. It’s the togetherness in stress that boosts your levels.
- Tell people you love them. Oh, yes a big one!
Physical contact and touch increases our levels so instead of bypassing this really important part of human nature why not milk it! HUG MORE! I hug my clients and no one thinks its odd. Hug as often and as many people as you can. (Be mindful of your company’s culture though, for some this maybe “breeching” a rule.
- Dog therapy is good. I know in my clinic that people instantly relax when they meet my darling little moodle. She has a gentle nature, welcomes any hugs and people simply love her.
- Eat a meal with a friend.
Splitting up is never easy and while it hurts, we can mitigate some of the anguish and pain by self-subsidizing the oxytocin ourselves.
Let me know how you go, or if you have any other great tips that make you feel in-love
PS be sure to read Part B on Addicted to Love and Dopamine.