Feel like your partner isn’t as interested as you are? Your brain is likely working with you to fix things.
A new study has shed some light on the chemistry of love and how it works.
Many people have been in a relationship where they feel more invested than their partner. And certainly many have been in the opposite role, where they feel they’re being “chased”.
What’s the better hand to have? Both have their pros and cons. The point here though, is that you might think your thoughts and feelings are all up to you, but your body is doing some of the work automatically, for you.
If you’re in the role of being the chaser in the partnership, it may feel like the future of your couplehood is entirely in your hands. But apparently, you’re not alone: your hormones are actually doing some of the heavy lifting.
You may have heard of oxytocin before- it’s been called the ‘love hormone’. It’s what brings new moms and infants closer together, is charging through new couples in love and promotes cuddling and feelings of intimacy.
Interestingly though, it also helps to ‘heal’ a good relationship in times of crisis.
More of a Good Thing
According to a study done by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of New Mexico, oxytocin can work some magic.
“When people notice that their partner is showing less interest in their relationship than they are, the level of this relationship-building hormone increases,” says Andreas Aarseth Kristoffersen, a research assistant in NTNU’s Department of psychology.
Researchers say it might seem odd that oxytocin is released both when couples are feeling more intimate and when they’re veering off on different pathways, but it seems to be the case.
To come to their conclusions, scientists studied 75 American couples, and 148 Norwegian individuals who constituted one half of a relationship.
The American couples were asked directly about how committed they felt in their relationships, and how invested they felt their partners were.
The Good and the Bad
The participants had their oxytocin levels measured before completing the study task and during it. They were then asked to think about their partner and how they wished they would connect with them, as a couple.
What was found? Partners who felt more invested in the relationship released more oxytocin when they thought about their partnership than their partner. In a relationship that has a good foundation, this can activate the ‘invested partner’ to add some needed love and care to the present conflict, helping couples to re-unite.
Of course, every good thing has a limit. It was also found that in a truly bad relationship, when things can’t really be salvaged, the chaser stops releasing extra oxytocin and things do actually come to a halt. But not in every case.
So, there you go. At least when times get tough you can know that your brain is trying to help you out. Go hormones, go. Someone’s on your side, and it could likely get better.
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