Oxytocin The Chemical Behind Good Relationships
There’s a biological explanation for the warm emotions you feel when you’re physically close to a loved one: It’s the hormone oxytocin.
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There's a biological explanation for the warm emotions you feel when you're physically close to a loved one, whether it's your partner, your children, or even your pets. It's the hormone oxytocin. Your body releases this hormone into your blood and brain in response to sex, childbirth, breastfeeding, and everyday behaviors such as touching—usually in trusting relationships.
Oxytocin promotes the social bonds that bring partners and families closer. It makes you feel closer to one another emotionally, and it makes you feel good. It even has specific effects such as leading you to make eye contact more often, being able to remember faces, reducing aggression, and helping you feel trust, generosity, and empathy. It's one of the factors that helps a mother bond with her baby at birth. Oxytocin levels are greater in couples in a new relationship compared to people who are single. And it's also greater in couples who report higher relationship quality compared to couples who report relationship distress. Oxytocin also can help protect you against stress.
It's also one explanation for why the human-animal connection is so rewarding. Scientists have found that just 5 minutes stroking a dog can increase your oxytocin levels. The effect is stronger if the animal is your own pet. On the other hand, it doesn't work at all for people who don't like animals.
Oxytocin is so effective at making you feel good and loving that some call it the "love hormone." In fact, the closer the relationship (including affectionate behavior), the more oxytocin is released. So, if you're stressed out or just want a shot of "feel-good," cuddle up with someone you love.
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