DEBBIE’S STORY Debbie recalls the day she met her husband. It was the typical scene of gazes meeting across a crowded room. They spoke. They danced. He walked her home. They shared a brief kiss. But then they hugged. And that was what did it for her. She knew right then and there he was the man for her. A few years later they married.
What happened that first night? Love at first sight? Magic? Ah, wouldn’t it be romantic, but no. Most likely, their romance was influenced by a surge of oxytocin – a hormone that passionate physical touch and closeness releases in the brain.
WHAT IS OXYTOCIN? Oxytocin is produced in the brain, in the hypothalamus, and released into the bloodstream like several other hormones. Now, the interesting thing is how this hormone is released. Breastfeeding and orgasm produce oxytocin, but also passionate warmth and touch. It washes over our bodies when we are physically close to someone who desires us and whom we desire.
So, when Debbie met her future husband, she didn’t know him well enough to love him, but she trusted him, she felt comfortable with him (the reason why she allowed him to walk her home), and the embrace they shared was so powerful, it started the bonding that would lead to a deep affection for one other,
Happily for Debbie and her husband they shared those feelings. They nurtured them and the more time they spent together, they more their attraction grew, creating the deep and loving relationship they share today.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT OXYTOCIN? Now, why does this concern us? Or better yet, our question should be: How can we use this knowledge of what this hormone does to us?
Some couples go to therapy and arrive in deeply agitated states. They can’t think when they are so flustered, so focused on what is wrong in the relationship and how badly it all hurts. Some therapists report the sense of trust and safety brought on by the effects of oxytocin makes their clients more open to therapeutic change. A 30-second, full-body hug is usually enough to calm them and make them ready to continue working.
But besides the therapeutic effects of oxytocin, this little hormone teaches us a powerful lesson. Sometimes, we let our emotions run wild, out of control. If we want what's best for us and to become our best, healthiest selves. we would do well to understand our emotions and not let them control us.
As for the warning hinted at in the title, Oxytocin - Warm Hugs With That Guy Or Gal? - watch out unless you are prepared to embrace the rollercoaster ride that is a romantic relationship. Stay in touch with the best of who you are and set healthy boundaries. If you do, you could be on the road to a long-lasting relationship.
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