Monday, October 27, 2003

Remember that old song...

"Love the One You're With," or whatever it's called... Stay with me and track the following rambling thoughts...

Came across this article which lists, as Item #9 of 10 reasons to make love: "Love Will Keep Us Together... affectionate touch will increase levels of oxytocin -- the 'bonding hormone.'"

I got to thinking, "huh?" ((I'm a deep thinker; you catch that? A deep idea and I say "huh?"))

So I surf the net to see what I can find. I find a little something here which tells me it helps mothers produce milk and, during childbirth, stimulates muscle contractions. Okay, nothing there for me. Then it says that it helps establish maternal behavior. Hmm, a bonding hormone for mothers?

Then I find this article by Susan Barker who calls oxytocin the "cuddle hormone." She also says it stimulates "pair bonding." Could it be something beyond mothers and their children? Could it also impact adult, intimate relationships? She cites a researcher who says:

"You first meet him and he’s passable. The second time you go out with him, he’s OK. The third time you go out with him, you have sex. And from that point on you can’t imagine what life would be like without him... What’s behind it? It could be oxytocin... Since the release of oxytocin can be classically conditioned, after repeatedly having sex with the same partner, just seeing that partner could release more oxytocin, making you want to be with that person all the more, and you bond."

Is love nothing more than hormones running rampant in our bodies?

Then I stumble over an economist who relates that people with higher levels of oxytocin are less stingy. Huh?

And another article which suggests that oxytocin helps us maintain relationships.

And this web site which says "Oxytocin makes us feel good about the person who causes the oxytocin to be released."

So, I wonder: the next time you or I are swapping spit (oh, I'm so formal, aren't I), our levels of oxytocin will go up -- since we're involved in an intimate setting -- and, no matter who the person is we're with, we're likely to bond with them, want them more (and more)... oh, and we'll be less stingy with them.

Oxytocin takes the hard edges and makes the edges soft?

So, I'm back to the song from years ago. If you can't be with the one you love... then just hang with with the one you're with and soon enough you will... love?

I'm left with questions. What are the implications, then, for couples in a significant relationship? Is attraction nothing more than neurons firing and hormones leaping across nerve endings? Does this somehow provide a reason for romances amongst people who work together or end up spending time together? Does it say something about some people's difficulties with long-distance relationships?

Or should we all just love the one we're with?

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