There has been plenty of news about Oxytocin and other love hormones
Is love just a chemical reaction? Most romantics can't believe that, but research is suggesting that the hormones that affect our minds may play a greater role in determining who will fall in love with, for how long and how intensely.
Many hormones are involved in creating the complex reaction and subsequent emotion that we call love. The feel good hormones are numerous and include, dopamine, oxytocin (ostensibly suggested to cause love between partners, mothers and children, but under fire after a new study that suggests it is a far more general chemical) and opiates.They all converge in different quantities on your brain and change your mood, attitude and emotions. Some people react quickly to these chemicals, while others are less affected and nobody knows why just yet. What we do know that the cocktail definitely induces certain behaviors and feelings from lust, to being in love with someone.
The Righteous Brothers were also right to sing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" because when these same feel good chemicals subside for a variety of reasons, so too does our emotional attachment or attraction and if this happens over time, our brain pathways that previously signaled us to act strangely around that special someone, re-imprints itself into a different section of the emotional brain. These changes that affect our cocktail include aging (lowered hormone production), lack of sleep, weight gain, depression and other mental illness, environmental issues, heavy metal poisoning and so many more impacts. It's a wonder that some of us stay in love at all with all of this interference.
You can actually be "Crazy in Love"!
"Crazy in Love" can also be regarded as more than simply a song. We know from over a hundred years of modern history, that music is inundated by songs about relationships, love, romance, heartbreak and other matters of the heart. It is a powerful motivator to do good and bad as we are often reminded by erstwhile crimes of passion as they are called. Can our minds really go so crazy that we aren't in control of our faculties? Do we in fact "lose-it" over someone? Authors Larry Young and Brian Alexander of the recently published book "Love Sex and the Science of Attraction" likened love to quantum physics at the molecular level. I know, it isn't very romantic, but we're talking about love as a chemical reaction, so bear with me. The chemistry doesn't change the way we hear or feel the stories about love. We're still going to feel it's mysterious impact on us, but we're also going to understand that the essence of love in all it's forms, is manipulated by the chemicals being secreted into our brain, which many believe to be the master sex-organ to begin with.
We also know that there are significant differences between men and women. The genders fall in love in different ways. The two authors studied rodents and how vasopressin (another one of those feel good chemicals) initiates territorial behaviors toward mates of the opposite sex and it suggests that this may extend to humans. With less vasopressin, came less commitment, so the suggestion is that if you want a faithful partner, up the amount of that chemical.
Frustration with our partners points directly to lower hormone levels
No, let's not jump to conclusions just yet. We can get frustrated by our partners for all kinds of reasons, but if we find that our threshold has gotten lower and the people haven't changed in significant ways, then we know most likely, hormones are at play. The silver lining is that we can find out why we are frustrated with each other and restart love or passion by doing certain things to up our feel good hormone levels and no, by this I don't mean do recreational illegal drugs. I mean certain weight bearing exercises, certain vitamins, a change in diet or location. While it may not feel good emotionally and physically, it's perfectly natural losing the passion, lust and intimacy as your ancient brain says "OK, we aren't bearing children with this one anymore, let's move on" in association with any one or number of ill effects we may be feeling. We may still want to be bonded with that person and Oxytocin, while not considered the wonder hug hormone that it once was, is still clearly important to our desiring to be with our "tribe". As our levels of the lust and passion oriented hormone dopamine drops off (because we aren't anticipating a new relationship, or unique and untried situation), an increase in a molecule called CRF makes us want to stick with that person.
Infidelity is programmed into our genome, but that still isn't an excuse
If CRF increases, then why is it that the divorce rate and infidelity numbers are so high? Well, that has to do with the procreation imperative and once kids have been produced and the newness is gone along with all of the environmental and lifestyle factors, our hormone concoction changes along with our relationship imperative. As higher mammals (that means we're still animals) it is programmed into our genome and scientists have actually discovered a couple of genes that seem to predict how often individuals will have extra marital affairs. So get ready to do testing just before you say "yes!"
Ancient circuits are tough to change, but not impossible
These circuits are ancient along with the chemicals that direct our relationship attention and how we behave in those relationships. It would be tough to change falling out of love, unless we were conscious of our physical changes and made an effort, as some do, to avoid the consequences of that significant hormone shift. You may not feel the level of passion as a man as his testosterone drops off significantly by middle age and this is one of the man contributing factors in divorces and breakups for men while women are affected more neurologically meaning that the reasons women become less interested in their mates is that they get more anxious, less trusting, more irritable. Sound familiar?
As with any research and a wide ranging population, there are outlier examples of people who enjoy casual sex that doesn't lead to long term relationships. It seems for these people to be a physical thing as opposed to an emotional attraction. These folks get healthy doses of the sex high hormones, but not the attachment hormones and like the many varied personalities on this planet, these people just learn to live with their inherent programming, learning to change it to suit new circumstances, or simply becoming an example of so many movies on men or women who can't commit and are found to be somehow strange or odd to the rest of us for not wanting to settle down and just enjoying their physical bodies. Have you seen the movie "Friends with Benefits" where both actors quickly became real world boyfriend and girlfriend? Hmm... makes you think what chemical cocktail their brains were serving-up in the movie and the real world.
Can you make someone fall in love?Once again, there are distinct difference between the genders and that is primarily because of the levels of certain hormones which impacted the wiring of our brains. A woman approaches a love relationship maternally and a man territorially. There is of course, a spectrum with one gender having a tendency toward one behavior with a slightly different variation among the population as a whole. However, if you pay attention to the hormones necessary to instill certain feelings and behaviors, then it is very possible through a specific cocktail to influence a persons perception of you. The physical cues, scent, speech tonality and a number of other factors fall into place here as well, but ultimately, yes, with the right recipe, you can make someone fall in love with you. Unfortunately, it can't be found in any magic potion like those you might find in Harry Potter such as Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in Harry's world.
In reality, we aren't speaking of love potions or sinister plots to make people love us despite our evil or ugly ways and appearances. Research is being conducted at institutions like The The center for translational social neuro science (yes, that is a mouth full!) to help people create and build relationships where they have problems.The Center hopes to take what they are learning about these hormones, to educate and in time, supplement couples so that they might return to a more familiar and happy relationship place. This might include more romance, intimacy, patience, understanding and ultimately love for their partner that they once had. Let's hope they hurry up!