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Science & Technology

Why Do We Love?

By Alyssa Garufi and Hannah Lee

Volume 2 Issue 4

February 10, 2022

Why Do We Love?

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Why do we love?

With Valentine's Day coming up, we must understand why we love. Why do humans feel butterflies in their stomachs and act in absurd ways due to love? Why is it that we even love in the first place? The answer to this question is simple - oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for the warm sensation we feel when around the people we love. 

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone that our body emits, and it is known as the "love hormone." It is produced by the hypothalamus and is secreted by the pituitary gland. Oxytocin release is linked to simple actions of touch. Giving someone a hug or a massage leads to increased levels of this hormone. Oxytocin is also connected to greater communication between partners in love - especially during an argument. 

How does oxytocin relate to dopamine and serotonin?

Dopamine and serotonin are known as the "happy hormones." When you're attracted to another person, both romantically and platonically, your brain releases dopamine. In addition, your serotonin levels increase, and oxytocin is produced as well. In conjunction, these hormones result in a surge of positive emotion. Oxytocin positively impacts social behaviors, such as relaxation, trust, and psychological stability. Overall, the hormone has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels, along with dopamine and serotonin.

How can one increase their oxytocin levels?

After reading about the benefits of oxytocin, if you want to learn how to feel the effects of the hormone, try some of these methods:

1) Share your love and affection with others

Sharing your feelings with a loved one often leads to a kind reply which increases oxytocin levels and induces a pleasurable feeling. Also, telling a friend or partner that you love them can prompt a hug, handhold, or even a kiss, which thus increases your oxytocin levels as well. 

2) Strengthen friendships with others

Having a solid relationship with friends makes an enormous difference in your emotional well-being. Hanging out with friends usually results in a good time, increasing your happiness and thus your oxytocin levels. Also, being around friends makes you feel socially supported and less alone in the world, allowing for an increase in oxytocin and dopamine levels. The trust and affection you have for your friends increase the more time you spend with them. 

3) Having deep conversations

When you talk to friends or significant others about your inner thoughts, you develop a stronger bond with that person. Bonding and increased feelings of connection and empathy can increase the amount of oxytocin in your bloodstream. When you genuinely listen to what someone has to say, you can be happier in return because of the trust developed. So, the next time your friend wants to talk to you about something important, put down anything that might distract you and give them your full attention. This close interaction can trigger oxytocin release.

4) Be generous

Altruistic behavior can promote oxytocin release. When you give someone a gift or practice a random act of kindness, others feel happy, which in return makes you more comfortable too. A simple act of brightening someone's day can lift your spirits and release oxytocin which promotes positive feelings in you, too. Live generously: offer to help with a chore, write someone a love note, or even support your favorite cause.

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