The Lazy Way to Stay in Love

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Discover the Magic of Bonding Behaviors

Exotic lovers“All that we can surmise of humankinds genetic history argues for a more liberal sexual morality, in which sexual practices are to be regarded first as bonding devices and only second as a means for procreation.” ~ E.O. Wilson

While waiting for a concert to begin at our local county fair, my husband and I checked out a reptile exhibit that included an animal trainer with a live alligator resting calmly on his lap. As we stroked the gator, I asked the trainer why it was so tame. “I pet it daily. If I didn’t, it would quickly be wild again, and wouldn’t allow this,” he explained. I was surprised. Only months earlier I had begun to grasp the power of bonding behaviors (skin-to-skin contact, gentle stroking and so forth) to evoke the desire to bond without our having to do anything more.

I didn’t realize reptiles ever responded similarly. Bonding behaviors, or attachment cues, are subconscious signals that can make emotional ties surprisingly effortless, once any initial defensiveness dissolves. (Bonding behaviors are also good medicine for easing defensiveness. Here’s a dramatic example: After three weeks of daily attachment cues an orphan with violent reactive attachment disorder finally bonded with his adoptive parents and began to form healthy peer relationships as well.) baby monkey

These behaviors are effective because they are the way mammal infants attach to their caregivers. To survive, infants need regular contact with Mom’s mammaries until they are ready to be weaned. Bonding behaviors work by encouraging the release of neurochemicals (including oxytocin), which lower innate defensiveness, making a bond possible. In short, these generous behaviors are the way we humans fall in love with our parents and children. Caregiver-infant signals include affectionate touch, grooming, soothing sounds, eye contact, and so forth.

In rare pair-bonding mammals like us, bonding cues serve a secondary function as well (known as an exaptation). They’re part of the reason we stay in love (on average) for long enough for both parents to attach to any kids. Honeymoon neurochemistry also plays a role, but it’s somewhat like a booster shot that wears off. In contrast, bonding behaviors can sustain bonds indefinitely. In lovers, bonding behaviors look a bit different than they do between caregiver and infant, yet the parallels are evident. These potent behaviors include:

  • smiling, with eye contact
  • skin-to-skin contact
  • providing a service or treat without being asked
  • sharing or receiving shared food
  • giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
  • gazing into each other’s eyes Relaxed lovers holding each other
  • listening intently, and restating what you hear
  • forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, past or present
  • preparing your partner something to eat
  • synchronized breathing
  • kissing with lips and tongues
  • cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso (works well on a couch, or pillows)
  • holding, or spooning, each other in stillness
  • wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
  • stroking with intent to comfort
  • massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders and head
  • hugging with intent to comfort
  • lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to the heart beat
  • touching and sucking of nipples/breasts
  • gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort rather than arouse
  • making time together at bedtime a priority
  • gentle intercourse

There are some curious aspects to bonding behaviors. First, in order to sustain the sparkle in a relationship these behaviors need to occur daily, or almost daily—just as the alligator trainer observed.

Second, they need not occur for long, or be particularly effortful, but they must be genuinely selfless. Even holding each other in stillness at the end of a long, busy day can be enough to send each other the subconscious signal that your bond is rewarding.

Third, there’s evidence that the more you use bonding behaviors, the more sensitive your brain becomes to the neurochemicals that help you feel relaxed and loving.

Fourth, some items on the list above may sound like foreplay, but in one important sense they are not. Foreplay is geared toward building sexual tension and climax—which sets off a subtle cycle of neurochemical changes (and sometimes unwelcome perception shifts) before the brain returns to equilibrium. In contrast, bonding behaviors are geared toward relaxation. They work best when they soothe an old part of the primitive brain known as the amygdala.

The amygdala’s job is to keep our guard up, unless it is reassured regularly with these subconscious signals. To be sure, it also relaxes temporarily during and immediately after a passionate encounter. After all, fertilization is our genes’ top priority. However, regular, non-goal oriented contact seems to be more effective as a bonding behavior.

This suggests that loving foreplay preceding a wonderful orgasm is great…but can send mixed messages. Perhaps these contradictory subconscious signals account for the “attraction-repulsion” phenomenon lovers often notice after their initial honeymoon high wanes. In any case, nurturing touch not only creates a space of comfort and safety. It can also be surprisingly ecstatic, as a friend shared:

Though it was after 11 PM, we cuddled. For about two hours. Ecstatic cuddling. I had experiences last night that I do not have immediate words for. Rich, deep, full. Subtle. Powerful. Moving. Meaningful. Pointing to greater connection with all life. We were in connection. In the same wave, as she put it, like a flock of birds wheeling in the sky as if with one mind.

Classical lovers

Whether or not you experience ecstasy, bonding behaviors are a practical means of restoring and sustaining the harmonious sparkle in a relationship…even with an alligator. Combine them with gentle lovemaking with lots of periods of relaxation (and a minimum of sexual satiety signals via orgasm), and you may find that you can sustain the harmony in your relationship with surprising ease.

Maybe those rare “swans” (couples who effortlessly stay together harmoniously) are largely made, not born. Certainly, I now carefully ponder news stories like this one about a couple married happily for over 80 years. The journalist reported that, “The couple never went to bed without a kiss and cuddle.” Hmmm…cause or effect?


A husband’s insights about bonding behaviors:

My wife and I just had guests for three weeks, and kissing, cuddling, complimenting each other, making love, etc, took a back seat. Now, it’s like we’re partial strangers (again), and it has been something of an eye-opener for me to recognise what is cause and what is effect. If I hadn’t been aware of the theoretical importance of bonding behaviours, and their likely result, I would have tended to think, as I have in the past, that our cuddling had dried up because we’d temporarily ‘gone off’ each other, rather than the other way around.

This wouldn’t have been particularly worrying. We’ve been married for ages, and we’ve had loads of ups and downs. In fact, I used to believe ups and downs were inevitable in marriage; and that the only way round them was to wait for the bottom to occur, and enjoy the passage to the top again.

Now, I’m not so sure, since it‘s become clear to me that ‘going off’ one another is the result, rather than the cause, of a dearth of cuddling. Lack of cuddling eventually leads to lack of desire to cuddle, whether through laziness, habit, resentment or indifference. Cuddling (all bonding behaviours included) causes the desire for more cuddles. It is a beneficent biofeedback machine, just as the absence of bonding behaviours seems to be the opposite.

Everyone will be familiar with young lovers not seeming able to get near enough to each other. Well, we’ve experienced the same, repeatedly, as a result of initially scheduling bonding behaviour and watching it snowball. If serial cuddling doesn’t come naturally (i.e., a couple isn’t an inseparable pair of young lovers) it seems absolutely critical to schedule bonding behaviours. It’s as critical as an exercise regime, should a person have decided they like the outcome of exercise. In this case, assuming a couple likes the idea of feeling as close and as in love as parent and child or star crossed teenagers, time and effort have to be employed.

Actually, it’s hardly any effort at all. The effort is in remembering to do it, and in overcoming any underlying resentment that might make that ‘remembering’ more difficult. Initially, the bonding behaviour need only be one activity a day; and that activity needn’t last longer than a minute, though it could, of course, last a lot longer. I think it needs to last at least as long as a minute, as, in our experience, that’s enough to start the snowballing effect.

Bonding behaviours then become automatic and seem to replicate themselves in abundance. It’s not so much that they become a habit, like brushing teeth; they are more like a drink that we develop a liking, and then a recurring thirst, for, not because of the obvious beneficial effect, both short and long term, but because the taste becomes inherently irresistible.

For more see Staying in Love Monkey-Style.


Bonding behaviors during advanced pregnancy

This is from a post by a father expecting his third child. He and his wife began experimenting with bonding behaviors a few weeks earlier. (She wasn't feeling up to intercourse.)

This is not an easy time in most relationships. However, we seem to be getting closer right now, both mentally and physically. Communication has improved, and Mrs. Skeptic has been more open with me about her thoughts and ideas.

I asked Mrs. Skeptic if things have improved, and she gave me a rather straight forward answer. She told me: "Our relationship is much better, which is why I am reluctant to end our 'experiment'...maybe we should stick with the status quo." She added that I have been "nicer", less moody, and helped out more, among other things.

I am mature enough to know that it is my job to help out, especially considering her condition, regardless of how things are going. I also know that it takes effort to maintain a relationship, especially when things are challenging. But it somehow makes it more exciting to think that we are working on a common goal. I have also lost at least 5 lbs. recently and I feel a lot better. I should be "nicer" regardless, but all of this is making being "nicer" more fun, at least when I am not feeling too anxious, stressed out, or insecure.

I am also excited about laying the framework for our post-procreating life. So, it looks like we our plan is to continue indefinitely for the moment. Some have suggested that this website is not really about abstaining, but instead about not setting the goal of having more O's. Given our circumstances, I am not sure there is much of a difference (at least for us at the moment) between not trying to have an O and trying not to have an O. We have certainly been much closer physically lately, but we have not engaged in any conduct which would lead to an O. Mrs. Skeptic feels very poorly overall, and any attempts at Karezza are going to have to wait until well after li'l Skeptic comes into the world.

As long as I feel close to Mrs. Skeptic and our relationship is improving, I think I am going to try to ride this out as long as I can. It is satisfying that Mrs. Skeptic has been more vocal and direct with me. I want to improve our relationship, which seems to be happening. But my wife's physical condition means that the near future means more kissing, affection, cuddling and arousal, but no O's unless I MB. The practical reality may be that abstaining is a goal for us right now.

Extreme Symptoms

Hello. I am really bad shape after stopping viewing porn 4 months ago after viewing it for 20 to 25 years. I am completely disabled from it and the doctors I am seeing think that I have Bipolar Depression and Somatoform Disorder basically Hypocondrias, which is lame. Antidepressants are worthless and I think they have actually made my neurochemistry worse. Talk about lack of concentration, organization, planning, short and long term memory is really poor. I got anxiety, depression of course and don't find too much fun these days. I highly suggest anyone reading my comment to get professional help and help from Jesus soon. Dont let your addiction go for years and years. It is definately an addiction and totally confinced that it makes you very OCD. It is serious problem.


Thanks for sharing your wisdom, however painfully gained. It's interesting you mention OCD, because those tendencies do show up here a lot.

We've noticed that a lot of non-drug things help with stabilizing mood...and presumably brain chemistry. Have you tried any of the following? Vigorous exercise? Daily meditation? Support groups or other friendly interaction? Pet-care? Making music or singing? Self hypnosis? See the "Wiki" page (top right) for various ideas. We'd love to hear what works best for you. Stay optimistic. I suspect the worst is behind you!

Two other things, you're enabled to blog, if you want to share more of your experience. And if Jeff is your real name, please let me change it for you. We try not to use real names here. Sometimes people decide later that they want to recommend the site to a friend...and then they want me to hide all their posts. I prefer to spend my time doing other things. Wink

*big hug*

Great ideas

I've said it elsewhere, but I wanted to put it on this great article too - conscious use of bonding behaviors in relationships is brilliant. I think all couples do a few of these instinctively, but it's a bit hard to realize what's going on for the rest of the day after you spent just a minute or two bonding in the morning. They really are a great lazy way to stay in love; associating your loved one with reward makes sure that you continue to see them as your loved one.
Also, just having a therapist tell you to improve the relationship by doing these affectionate activities doesn't feel motivating. The mechanism and biological context given here provide motivation to stick to the behaviors and observe results.
(also your writing style is exceedingly clear, which I appreciate and hope I'll pick up; they say engineers are bad at communicating)

I am a bit curious as to what your favorite bonding activity is (to give or be the recipient of). I'm partial to receiving grooming, rather like a monkey, and I like to give comforting massages.

Glad they're working for you

I agree. It's easier to stay motivated when you understand the signals you're bleeping to your primitive brain and why they work, and how they need to be sustained and daily to keep working. contact holding each other. Gary likes that, too, although he seems particularly interested in breast massage. Smile

By grooming, what do you mean?


Things like having my hair combed / played with; rubbing lotion on skin that needs it. The context of utilitarian maintenance makes it extra special

The power of bonding behaviors in a new relationship

I share this with the writer's permission. It hints at what couples could do to help heal old wounds by starting out slowly and working with attachment behaviors consciously - in this case before moving into intercourse. (But established couples could back up and do the same thing.)

Dear Marnia,

I am finally living out, to some degree, the experience of [author Rudolf] von Urban and Lili when he was 12 !! I'm nearly 40 years older than that, but it is still truly wonderful !!

My love and I started, as I mentioned, by holding hands for about 1 1/2 hours. The next time I suggested that we close our eyes and talk very little while holding hands. Shortly after we started, I instinctively leaned toward her and cradled her elbows in the palms of my hands with our lower arms in full contact. About 20 minutes in, she started gently swaying from side to side, and I just went with it. A friend had the insight that to sooth babies that have not had enough touch, they are laid on a soft piece of cloth and rocked from side to side. My love mentioned that while growing up her father was emotionally unable to give her any physical affection -- only in his later years did this change. Perhaps my gently holding her arms took her back to an early point of her life and filled in some of the affection from her father that she missed. This experience was so healing and moving for her that, when we finished, I whispered good night to her and let her know that I would let myself out -- I didn't want to disrupt her from falling asleep or quietly processing what had just happened.

In touching and being touched, I see both of us being healed, step by step -- it is truly a wonder to behold !! On another evening after holding hands at the table, I suggested that we sit on the couch and hold each other. This felt very nurturing. It was very nice to occasionally nuzzle her neck without it having to go anywhere. The next evening, I suggested that I lie face down on the couch in a pair of light summer shorts with her lying on my back. Our previous experiences made us both eager for more skin contact in a posture that felt safe to both of us. Even though this posture has several pitfalls, it was our best option at the time. I didn't want to get on an arousal track, which I felt was more likely in a face-to-face or male-behind-female posture.

She needed lots of skin contact and nurturing without any emotional connection with the postures she associated with being used by a man. Each time we both felt more deeply rested, more energetic, and more focused the next day. The first time, when I got up to leave, I felt "drunk" with energy in a good way -- kind of like the "good" head rush the one time I drank an ounce or two of wheatgrass juice. The second time we both relaxed enough to briefly fall asleep -- in spite of the mental distraction of a sound of a TV in another room. Where there's a will there's a way !!

We also briefly tried spooning with her on the outside, but it didn't feel quite right. (I think at that point she needed more nurturing.) We started with her on my back a third night, but she had to get up for a moment. When she came back, I suggested that we lie on our sides with me on the outside. I then felt more confident within my own body, and her trust in me had grown; so lying together in spoon fashion seemed less threatening to both of us. This was so much more relaxing, and even more wonderful !! We talked for a few minutes at the end while still spooned together, and it was very difficult for us to physically separate.

My love and I are in perfect agreement to not pursue sex yet. This seems to have had the effect of getting the whole fertilization behavior chess game completely out of the way. When the will is firmly set, the mind seems to move on to other, more easily accomplished tasks.

It is so amazing to feel absolutely safe and trusted while luxuriating in each other's energy and tenderness. She has needed a reassurance of my intent at a couple of points along the way, but that has opened even more opportunities for me to heal.

By always staying current with each other, and receiving her healing touch when I had a stomach ache, I'm pretty sure that an old hurt of being rejected when I was a teen was finally laid to rest. (I had stored an "emotional hurt" in my gut way back then and the "hurt" manifested again when my love told me "we need to talk" on the phone -- a potential rejection took me emotionally right back to that long ago rejection. I had been taking exceptionally good care of myself, so I felt there was little or no physical reason for my stomach to hurt. I felt emotionally stronger too, so I wanted to resolve my love's questions if at all possible, but if not, let the chips fall where they may. I was crystal clear that nothing would be gained by dodging any issue that came up. After we talked and were in complete harmony regarding our intent toward each other, my stomach still hurt. After an hour or more, during which we took a walk at a beautiful beach park that ordinarily would have been pure pleasure, I still had the stomach ache. While we sipped on a fruit smoothie in our vehicle parked in the shade, I was able to put the pieces together. I asked her to place her hand over my hurt and within minutes the lingering stomach ache simply melted away.

We both clearly recognize that for our physical bodies to heal completely, our emotions need to be healed also. Neither one of us has any agenda for our relationship. I am trying to remain open to any possibility. It is so absolutely wonderful to watch my love change before my eyes.

After the evening when we briefly fell asleep together, I didn't see her for almost 48 hours. Although she had had more than her usual amount of stress during our time apart, and less than her normal amount of sleep, she was positively radiant and very grounded. I think that her body, mind, and emotions are responding to our time together.

All this has been the result of simply sharing our energy with each other for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time. She is so amazed by the benefits, that she remains as eager as I am. Sometimes it seems better and easier to experience something first and then read more to find out the hows and whys to clarify what exactly happened. There are safe ways to share loving touch that demonstrate the multitude of benefits in it -- if there is trust and the boundaries are completely clear.

Here's what one man said as he experimented:

What I realised is that it's not only about engaging eye contact but two other things at the same time: Being in your body instead of your head and having the sincere motivation to connect with the other person by wanting to feel him / her. That's interesting and important. Engaging eye contact while still being in my head didn't change anything for me.


Comments of forum member

on a story about the benefits to infants of skin-to-skin contact. (

That story really touched me. I breast fed both my kids, and the feeling of bonding and love that I felt then is the same as I've felt recently with my mate while experimenting with bonding behaviors. With babies, the power of that feeling, at least when they're tiny, is not clouded with any other emotions. Karezza seems allows us to access that pure love.

It's not infantile, it's ageless.

I had mentioned to her that psychologists are confused in that they often argue that attachment cues are only appropriate between infant and caregiver. Tell that to adult tamarin monkeys, who keep their pair bonds strong with attachment cues!

Another example of bonding behaviors in the animal kingdom

Nurturing Nests Lift These Birds to a Higher Perch

Amid all the psychosocial caterwauling these days over the relative merits of tiger mothers and helicopter dads, allow me to make a pitch for the quietly dogged parenting style of the New Caledonian crow.

New Caledonian crows are renowned for their toolmaking skills.

In the complexity, fluidity and sophistication of their tool use, their ability to manipulate and bird-handle sticks, leaves, wires, strings and any other natural or artificial object they can find into the perfect device for fishing out food, or fishing out second-, third- or higher-order tools, the crows have no peers in the nonhuman vivarium, and that includes such textbook dexterous smarties as elephants, macaques and chimpanzees.

Videos of laboratory studies with the crows have gone viral, showing the birds doing things that look practically faked. In one famous example from Oxford University, a female named Betty methodically bends a straight piece of wire against the outside of a plastic cylinder to form the shape of a hook, which she then inserts into the plastic cylinder to extract a handled plug from the bottom as deftly as one might pull a stopper from a drain. Talking-cat videos just don’t stand a chance.

So how do the birds get so crafty at crafting? New reports in the journals Animal Behaviour and Learning and Behavior by researchers at the University of Auckland suggest that the formula for crow success may not be terribly different from the nostrums commonly served up to people: Let your offspring have an extended childhood in a stable and loving home; lead by example; offer positive reinforcement; be patient and persistent; indulge even a near-adult offspring by occasionally popping a fresh cockroach into its mouth; and realize that at any moment a goshawk might swoop down and put an end to the entire pedagogical program.
Jennifer C. Holzhaider, the lead author on the two new reports, said that in one year of their three-year field study, the crows they were following gave birth to a total of eight chicks.

“We thought, yay, we’ll have eight juveniles we can watch,” she said. But the goshawks, the rats, the owls and the torrential rains took their toll, and only one of those eight chicks survived. “It’s a hard life in the jungle; that’s all there is to it,” said Dr. Holzhaider.
By studying the social structure and behavior of the crows and the details of their difficult daily lives, the researchers hope to gain new insights into the evolution of intelligence, the interplay between physical and social skillfulness, and the relative importance of each selective force in promoting the need for a big animal brain.

The researchers want to know why it is that, of the 700 or so species of crows, ravens, rooks, jays and magpies that make up the world’s generally clever panoply of corvids, the New Caledonian crow became such an outlier, an avian savant, a YouTube top of the line.

“It’s a big puzzle,” said Russell D. Gray, head of the Auckland lab. “Why them? Why is this species on a small island in the Pacific able to not just use but to manufacture a variety of tools, and in a flexible rather than a rote or programmatic way? Why are they able to do at least as well as chimpanzees on experiments of cognition that show an understanding of the physical properties of the world and an ability to generalize from one problem to the next?”

If the birds learn to avoid holes and barriers in the experimental setting of a plastic tubed box, for example, they will avoid holes and barriers in the very different conditions of a wooden table. “Knowing their social structure,” Dr. Gray said, “is one part of the jigsaw.”

New DNA studies suggest that corvids first arose at the end of the dinosaur era, roughly 65 million years ago, somewhere in the neighborhood of Australia, and radiated outward from there. The ancestors of the New Caledonian crow didn’t travel far before settling on the 220-mile-long land sprig from which the species derives its name.

The modern New Caledonian crow is funereal of bill and feather and, at an average of 12 inches in length and 12 ounces in weight, a middling sort of corvid: much smaller than a common raven, slightly more compact than the ubiquitous American crow, but beefier than a jay or a jackdaw. Brain size is another matter.

“All corvid brains are relatively big,” said Dr. Gray, “but preliminary evidence suggests that the New Caledonian brain is big even for corvids.” Moreover, the brain is preferentially enlarged, displaying impressive bulk in the avian equivalent of the cogitating forebrain, particularly structures involved in associative learning and fine motor skills.

Their bills are also exceptional, “more like a human opposable thumb than the standard corvid beak,” said Dr. Gray.
The bills “appear specialized to hold tools,” said Anne Clark, who studies American crows at the State University of New York at Binghamton but who also has observed New Caledonian crows in the field. “When I was watching them, they seemed to grab a stick whenever they appeared unable to figure something out,” she said, rather as a mathematician has trouble solving a problem without a pencil in hand.

The birds are indefatigable toolmakers out in the field. They find just the right twigs, crack them free of the branch, and then twist the twig ends into needle-sharp hooks. They tear strips from the saw-toothed borders of Pandanus leaves, and then shape the strips into elegant barbed spears.

With their hooks and their spears they extract slugs, insects and other invertebrates from deep crevices in the ground or in trees. The birds are followers of local custom.

Through an arduous transisland survey of patterns left behind in Pandanus leaves by the edge-stripping crows, Gavin Hunt of the University of Auckland determined that toolmaking styles varied from spot to spot, and those styles remained stable over time. In sum, New Caledonian crows have their version of culture.

Being cultured is hard work. In studying the birds’ social life, Dr. Holzhaider and her colleagues confirmed previous observations that New Caledonian crows are not group-living social butterflies, as many crows and ravens are, but instead adhere to a nuclear family arrangement. Males and females pair up and stay together year-round, reaffirming their bond with charming gestures like feeding and grooming each other, sitting close enough to touch, and not even minding when their partner plays with their tools.
Young birds stay with their parents for two years or more — a very extended dependency, by bird standards — and they forage together as a family, chattering all the while. “They have this way of talking in a quiet voice, ‘Waak, waak, waak,’ that sounds really lovely,” said Dr. Holzhaider.

The juveniles need their extended apprenticeship. “They’re incredibly persistent, wildly ripping and hacking at Pandanus leaves, trying to make it work,” said Dr. Holzhaider, “but for six months or so, juveniles are no way able to make a tool.”
The parents step into the breach, offering the trainee food they have secured with their own finely honed tools. “By seeing their parents get a slug out of a tree, they learn that there’s something down there worth searching for,” she said. “That keeps them going.”

The carrot-on-stick approach: It works every time.

Power of eye-gazing during dancing

A forum member contributed this:

"English Country Dancing is from another time and place. It's the stuff you see in the Jane Austen movies, though nowadays they skip the bows and curtsies. The dancing is genteel, the music sublime. I've lost you already, haven't I? But hear me out. Would you believe it's the most erotic thing I've ever done? English Country Dancing is intense, choreographed flirting. The Emma Woodhouses and Mr. John Knightlys of the world may have known more about the good life than we would have guessed.

It's all in the eye contact. Done right, you are constantly gazing deeply into the eyes of your partner of the moment. I remember a weekend workshop up in Wisconsin a few years ago. I showed up knowing no one. But the caller kept reminding us to keep eye contact, and the sense of intimacy in that room just soared. Between dances everyone was very friendly and we talked. By the end of the weekend I found myself rather fond of about 40 women. And the sense of flirting had gotten completely out of hand. Since you may only be with one partner for a few seconds, it seemed like an unending series of passionate encounters. Only with the eyes, of course, but still very intense."

A forum member shared this

I remember back when I was 16-18, I still had a food addiction that wasn't as strong as it is now. I didn't enjoy being over-weight and knew It would be difficult to change my habits. With this knowledge I never went out of my way to change them. I was going to school full time, playing games 3 hours a day and occasionally taking on extra curricular activities. I had a few acquaintances from school I kept in touch with online (2001-03) and was ok with how life was proceeding.

Of course there was a girl who I cared a lot about but my self confidence was very low and I "knew" there was no chance. Too make a very.. long story short lol, I ended up with her when I was 18. With this change in my life a lot of other things changed

I was out constantly, immersed in a small group of friends, so things like over eating and porn/masturbation fell to the way side. I was lucky to get enough food if anything. That brings me too something Ive thought frequently about since I've read much on plasticity.

The ease with which I was able to eat very little (for me),and not care or notice, while spending time with my partner. Its been a while since Ive read some of those articles but I recall great emphasis put into the link between Oxytocin and Plasticity. I was swimming in a sea of passion at the time... (2003) everyday was racked with intense emotion, contact with her, massages, eye contact etc etc.

During this time (the whole year), pounds MELTED off me and I absolutely didn't notice it happening. In contrast compare that to the year before (2002) where I would eat everything in sight and would be very unhappy if I didn't. The same with now. I cannot imagine a proper diet right now. It would just leave me devoid

Ill just go ahead and put the emphasis on it. There is NO WAY IN HELL that my appetite could be curbed or bent even slightly under "normal" circumstances. Normal being not in love, isolating etc. My appetite/consumption has been like clockwork for ten years. Absolute unwavering clockwork.

Except for that one time I was truly in love with a woman and it became more then easy. I didn't even notice it happen <_< The ease with which I was able to change my habits was staggering. Even the word ease is misleading. Ease implies that I put effort into it. It just... happened.

That is my Oxytocin/Plasticity story for you. I hope it comes in handy Smiling

Another forum member shared this:

We generally curl up together for a period each night and watch a bit of TV, or she'll scratch my back (gently!). All very lazy. We're definitely stronger as a couple because of it - I mean even in the facing of usual trials and tribulations / fluctuating fortunes / job uncertainty / etc. We present a more united front.

So it seems to be helpful on a much broader level than only soothing my emotional see-saws while rebalancing.

Women and oxytocin

I found this short article interesting and it's related to bonding behaviors. Despite the focus on women, I know a lot of men who find bonding behaviors delicious....

The Bridge Between Touch and Sex
Paul H. Byerly

Touch is so vital to humans, and most of us don't get nearly enough of it. Babies deprived of touch don't develop normally because certain connections in the brain actually disappear. Orphans who receive very, very little touch often die as a result, and those who survive can experience permanent physical and mental retardation. Kids who don't get enough touch grow up to become aggressive and antisocial adults. Older adults who don't get enough touch also suffer, becoming senile sooner, and dying earlier. We're all affected by touch, and it's not "all in the mind"; rather it's the result of complex hormonal responses which actually change our bodies and brains.

Touch causes our bodies to produce a hormone called oxytocin. Not only does touch stimulate production of oxytocin, but oxytocin promotes a desire to touch and be touched: it's a feedback loop that can have wonderful results. Oxytocin makes us feel good about the person who causes the oxytocin to be released, and it causes a bonding between the two persons. Nursing a baby produces oxytocin in both mother and child, and this is a major part of what initially bonds the mother and her baby. Even thinking of someone we love can stimulate this hormone; when women in good marriages were asked to think about their husbands, the level of oxytocin in their blood rose quickly.

There's more. Oxytocin plays a significant role in our sexuality too. Higher levels of oxytocin result in greater sexual receptivity, and because oxytocin increases testosterone production (which is responsible for sex drive in both men and women) sex drive can also increase. [Note: not so sure about previous sentence. It's true that oxytocin facilitates sexual arousal and erections, but we haven't heard the testosterone part.] Moreover, this hormone does not just create a sexual desire in women, coupled with estrogen it creates a desire to be penetrated (that is, it makes her want intercourse). Oxytocin increases the sensitivity of the penis and the nipples, improves erections, and makes both orgasm and ejaculation stronger; it may even increase sperm counts. And while oxytocin can move us towards sex, sex increases production of oxytocin: nipple stimulation, genital stimulation, and intercourse all raise the level of oxytocin in men and women. Orgasm causes levels to spike even higher, three to five times normal, creating the "afterglow" closeness that is experienced following lovemaking. The fact that sex increases oxytocin levels can be helpful for women who complain they "never feel like sex." Having sex, even when you don't have a drive to do so, will actually affect you in ways that will result in a greater sex drive. This also explains, at least in part, why many women find that the more sex they have, the more they want, and the less sex they have, the less they want.

Of course no hormone acts independently. Hormones amplify or reduce each other's effects, and increase or decrease production of other hormones. Among other things, oxytocin increases the production of both estrogen and testosterone. Oxytocin has a special relationship with estrogen. Oxytocin is virtually powerless without estrogen, and oxytocin's effects are increasingly powerful as estrogen levels rise. This explains why women are far more affected by touch than men. Women have much higher levels of estrogen than men. This also explains why women respond to the same touch differently at different times of the month. When her estrogen is high (ovulation) even a slight touch can have a strong affect; when estrogen is low (menstruation) it will take more touch to get less of a response.

Another interesting effect of oxytocin is that it decreases mental processes and impairs memory. This is why hugging and touching can help us recover from an argument. The oxytocin helps us to stop thinking about it, and even forget some of the pain we felt. While hugging may not be a natural response during conflict, it can quickly cool things off.

While most of us suffer from living in an anti-touch society, women tend feel more touch-starved than men, probably due to the fact that they have more estrogen. A woman who is not receiving enough touch becomes withdrawn and even depressed. In this condition a woman can become strongly, and even violently, opposed to sexual touch. If the situation continues, she may become so withdrawn that she is no longer open to the very touch she needs.

So how do we touch more? Mostly we need to be aware of the need. We need to retrain ourselves and look for opportunities to touch. Even a gentle brief touch has an effect, and the more the better. Learn to walk hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm. When you go to church, or watch TV, or sit talking to friends, sit close enough to touch each other. When you're both reading find a way to be in contact with each other ... even sitting at opposite ends of the couch with your feet touching will work. When you are eating together play footsies. Rub each other's shoulders or feet, or give a long massage. Do anything which brings your body into contact with your spouse, and do it often. And don't forget your kids, they need touch too!!

Original article

More evidence oxytocin's role in social bonds

Chimpanzees: Hormone oxytocin likely to play key role in maintaining social relations with cooperation partners

January 23rd, 2013 in Biology / Plants & Animals

The Sonso group in the Budongo Forest, Uganda: two male chimpanzees grooming each other, a very intimate behaviour based on trust.

Animals which maintain cooperative relationships show gains in longevity and offspring survival. However, little is known about the cognitive or hormonal mechanisms involved in cooperation. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now found that cooperative relationships are facilitated by an endocrinological mechanism involving the hormone oxytocin, even when these are between non-kin. They collected urine samples of 33 chimpanzees from Budongo Forest, Uganda, and measured their urinary oxytocin levels after single episodes of a specific cooperative behaviour, mutual grooming. The result: Oxytocin levels were higher after grooming with cooperation partners compared with non-cooperation partners or after no grooming, regardless of genetic relatedness or sexual interest. This suggests that in chimpanzees oxytocin, which acts directly on neural reward and social memory systems, plays a key role maintaining social relations beyond genetic ties and in keeping track of social interactions with multiple individuals over time.

In non-human primates and other social animals strong and enduring social bonds are typically seen between genetically related individuals but also, occasionally, between non-kin, same-sex individuals. Although such relationships are typically defined by high rates of cooperative behaviours, how they are maintained over time is still unclear. In humans and other social mammals the neuropeptide hormone oxytocin plays a central role in facilitating bonding between kin and mating partners. Catherine Crockford, Roman Wittig and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have now analysed the role of this hormone in the social relationships between wild chimpanzees.

To this end the researchers observed social interactions – like mutual grooming – in a group of wild chimpanzees from Budongo Forest in Uganda and non-invasively collected urine samples of the 33 female and male adult group members on plastic bags or leaves. They determined the level of the hormone oxytocin before and shortly after the animals had been grooming with each other and found that oxytocin levels were especially high in chimpanzees who had been grooming with a "bond partner",  a cooperation partner, irrespective of whether this bond partner happened to be their kin or not. On the other hand, the level of urinary oxytocin was much lower in chimpanzees who had been grooming with a "non-bond partner", with whom they did not share a cooperative relationship, or in animals who had not been grooming at all. Furthermore, the researchers found that the animal's sex or age, grooming duration and other factors did not have a significant influence on urinary oxytocin levels.

"Our results demonstrate that a rise in oxytocin was dependent upon the combined effects of social grooming with a bond partner", says Catherine Crockford of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "Crucially, oxytocin levels were similarly high after grooming with non-kin and kin bond partners. This suggests that, in chimpanzees, oxytocin plays a key role in maintaining social relations beyond immediate genetic ties".

"This is the first study that measures the levels of the hormone oxytocin on wild animals in a non-invasive way", says Roman Wittig of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "We have developed a tool with which cross-species comparisons that link underlying physiology and behaviour can eventually be made of social mammals in their natural environment". In future field research this tool will be used to compare single behaviours – like other cooperative  or aggressive behaviours – by measuring how they differ from each other hormonally.

More information: C. Crockford, R.M. Wittig, K. Langergraber, T. Ziegler, K. Zuberbühler, T. Deschner. Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees

Proceedings of the Royal Society B, January 23, 2013.
Provided by Max Planck Society

"Chimpanzees: Hormone oxytocin likely to play key role in maintaining social relations with cooperation partners." January 23rd, 2013.

Photographer Asks Strangers to Touch

strangers touchingNew York photographer Richard Rinaldi has embarked on a remarkable photo project called "Touching Strangers". He wanders the streets of major cities looking for strangers willing to pair up for photographs that look as if the subjects are loving family members.

After Rinaldi arranges his strangers side-by-side, face-to-face, or kneeling beside -- always with hands touching -- a transformation takes place. "I felt like I cared for her," a poetry teacher, Brian Sneeden, told CBS after he agreed to pose with a 95-year-old stranger.

“We think these great photographs have something positive to say about human connection . . . about a diverse society in which people have been taught not to touch each other but in which we can and do transcend the boundaries set around us," said Chris Boot, the director of Aperture, a nonprofit foundation that wanted to publish a book of Touching Strangers.


A Kickstarter campaign raised more than $80,000 in the weeks leading up to August 5 to fund the collection of 70 photos.

Renaldi received his BFA in photography from New York University. Exhibits of his photographs have been mounted in galleries and museums throughout the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

Reallly cool!

Isn't this amazing? I work in an office with engineers, and last week I decided to start slipping in an occasional touch when possible and appropriate.

Two of the guys were talking, and I was to interrupt them. I lightly touched the arm of the one who didn't see me, as he was busy explaining something to the other one, on the computer screen.

I still remember the feeling of caring I had when I touched his arm lightly, and my sense was that it felt powerful, and was also perceived not only by the man I touched, but by the one watching.

There was something present indescribable - hard to put into words. I still feel it when I see him, and I think he feels the residual impact, too.


It's as if we all know two languages...

but don't allow ourselves to speak one of them most of the time. Enormous untapped potential.

However, touch can be misused, and people for whom that has been the case can be very reactive to touch, and easily read into it exploitive motives. This shows how wounded kids grow up to be wounded adults...and the poison can mess up an entire society as we all struggle to meet exaggerated needs for special treatment, or to fill needs that can never be filled no matter how the rest of us contort our behavior. This is why learning to use sex in a way that keeps us feeling whole is so helpful. Speaking of the power of "wholeness," have a look at this young man's account: 90 Day Report - Finally Growing Up

In any case, those of us who use touch have to use it will complete integrity (as you did) and avoid using it manipulatively.

The power of bonding behaviors (listening, eye contact, etc)?

drawing of coupleSo You’re Not Desirable ...

IT is one of the hard truths of romance: Desirable people attract other desirable people, while the rest of us — lacking in attractiveness, charisma or success — settle for the best partner who is willing to consider our overtures. In the scientific literature, this idea is enshrined in the concept of mate value, which determines who gets to mate with whom. In popular culture, it is reflected in the choice of comely contestants to vie for the equally comely spouse-to-be on TV shows like “The Bachelor.” Pairing off, it seems, is just one more example that life isn’t fair.

But is this cynicism justified? In a paper that we published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we offer evidence for the seemingly naïve notion that in most romantic contexts your unique appeal is more important than your mate value.

Mate value is predicated on people’s ability to reach some degree of consensus about one another’s desirable qualities. (Rarely do people achieve perfect consensus on anything, but they reach some degree of consensus, for example, that ice cream is tastier than cottage cheese.) If women agree that David has high amounts of attractiveness (or charisma or success), that Neil has moderate amounts and that Barry has low amounts, then David, Neil and Barry have high, medium and low mate value, respectively.

Psychological research on first impressions has shown that men and women do in fact reach some degree of consensus about each other in precisely this way. During an initial encounter, some people generally inspire swooning, others polite indifference and others avoidance. Desirable qualities like attractiveness, charisma and success — the features that differentiate the haves from the have-nots — are readily apparent.

Yet alongside this consensus is an equally important concept: uniqueness. Uniqueness can also be measured. It is the degree to which someone rates a specific person as lower or higher than the person’s consensus value. For example, even if Neil is a 6 on average, certain women may vary in their impressions of him. Amanda fails to be charmed by his obscure literary references and thinks he is a 3. Yet Eileen thinks he is a 9; she finds his allusions captivating.

In initial encounters, consensus and uniqueness are in tension. Which ultimately prevails?

In answering this question, it is crucial to keep in mind the obvious (but underappreciated) fact that most people do not initiate romantic relationships immediately after forming first impressions of each other. One recent study of a representative sample of adolescents found that only 6 percent reported that they and their partners formed a romantic relationship soon after meeting.

It seems most likely that it is the consensually desirable people who pull off the rare feat of quickly leveraging an initial positive impression into romance, while a vast majority of us get to know our romantic partners slowly, gradually, over time. Most of us have networks of opposite-sex friends and acquaintances. And even though we would never consider many of them as romantic partners, for a handful, all it would take is the right moment and a spark. These are the contexts that produce most romantic liaisons — and as our recent work shows, these contexts reveal very little consensus with respect to mate value.For one of our studies, we recruited 129 heterosexual individuals across several small undergraduate classes. These individuals indicated, at both the beginning and the end of the semester, the extent to which the opposite-sex students in their class possessed a set of desirable qualities. We found that consensus dropped and uniqueness increased as these students got to know one another over time. After three months, uniqueness dominated consensus for all desirable qualities: attractiveness, vitality, warmth, potential for success and even the ability to provide a satisfying romantic relationship.

In a related study of approximately 350 heterosexual individuals, we collected these same measures in networks of opposite-sex friends, acquaintances and partners. Among these well-acquainted individuals, consensus on measures of mate value was nearly zero. These are the people who know what authors you like, what you wore for Halloween six years ago and what obscure movie you will quote the next time you all get together. But they cannot agree on your mate value. Over the years, it has evaporated before their eyes.

The old axiom says beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to initial impressions, this statement is not really true: Consensus about desirable qualities creates a gulf between the haves and have-nots. But the truth of this maxim increases over time: As people get to know each other, decreasing consensus and increasing uniqueness give everyone a fighting chance.

So if you do not have a high mate value, take heart. All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you, and a more level playing field should follow.

Paul W. Eastwick is an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where Lucy L. Hunt is a graduate student.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on May 18, 2014, on page SR9 of the New York edition with the headline: So You’re Not Desirable .... Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe

The power of bonding behaviors (listening, eye contact, etc)?

western psychology rather materialistic to me . . .

to say the least. My understanding of the derivation of "psychology" is psyche / logos, or, the study of the soul. Don't quote me - I'm no intellectual and not technical about such things, but I have spent many years skimming articles, books and websites about the soul, soul groups, soul contracts, and that the people who come into our lives are in fact pre-planned on a higher, soul level, for us to have relationship experiences with. We exist on higher planes, and these agreements are made on those levels.

These articles of research to me seem very limited. There is such an expanded area of knowledge, but our scientists are mostly getting grants from industry . . . very 5-sensory, technology-dependent.

Just my rant for the day. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the personal experiences described here. They really enhance my understanding of relationships.

To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This

[Jan 9, 2015, New York Times] More than 20 years ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. Last summer, I applied his technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.

Let me explain. Earlier in the evening, that man had said: “I suspect, given a few commonalities, you could fall in love with anyone. If so, how do you choose someone?”

He was a university acquaintance I occasionally ran into at the climbing gym and had thought, “What if?” I had gotten a glimpse into his days on Instagram. But this was the first time we had hung out one-on-one.

“Actually, psychologists have tried making people fall in love,” I said, remembering Dr. Aron’s study. “It’s fascinating. I’ve always wanted to try it.”

I first read about the study when I was in the midst of a breakup. Each time I thought of leaving, my heart overruled my brain. I felt stuck. So, like a good academic, I turned to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter.

I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said.

Let me acknowledge the ways our experiment already fails to line up with the study. First, we were in a bar, not a lab. Second, we weren’t strangers. Not only that, but I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening.

I Googled Dr. Aron’s questions; there are 36. We spent the next two hours passing my iPhone across the table, alternately posing each question.

They began innocuously: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”

But they quickly became probing.

In response to the prompt, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” he looked at me and said, “I think we’re both interested in each other.”

I grinned and gulped my beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged stories about the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.

The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.

I liked learning about myself through my answers, but I liked learning things about him even more. The bar, which was empty when we arrived, had filled up by the time we paused for a bathroom break.

I sat alone at our table, aware of my surroundings for the first time in an hour, and wondered if anyone had been listening to our conversation. If they had, I hadn’t noticed. And I didn’t notice as the crowd thinned and the night got late.

We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner, a total of five items” (Question 22), and “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

We finished at midnight, taking far longer than the 90 minutes for the original study. Looking around the bar, I felt as if I had just woken up. “That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Definitely less uncomfortable than the staring into each other’s eyes part would be.”

He hesitated and asked. “Do you think we should do that, too?”

“Here?” I looked around the bar. It seemed too weird, too public.

“We could stand on the bridge,” he said, turning toward the window.

The night was warm and I was wide-awake. We walked to the highest point, then turned to face each other. I fumbled with my phone as I set the timer.

“O.K.,” I said, inhaling sharply.

“O.K.,” he said, smiling.

I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.

So it was with the eye, which is not a window to anything but a rather clump of very useful cells. The sentiment associated with the eye fell away and I was struck by its astounding biological reality: the spherical nature of the eyeball, the visible musculature of the iris and the smooth wet glass of the cornea. It was strange and exquisite.

When the timer buzzed, I was surprised — and a little relieved. But I also felt a sense of loss. Already I was beginning to see our evening through the surreal and unreliable lens of retrospect.

Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed.

But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.

It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

You’re probably wondering if he and I fell in love. Well, we did. Although it’s hard to credit the study entirely (it may have happened anyway), the study did give us a way into a relationship that feels deliberate. We spent weeks in the intimate space we created that night, waiting to see what it could become.

Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

View underlying paper by Aron and his team

Mandy Len Catron teaches writing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and is working on a book about the dangers of love stories.


The Brave Terry Crews Went on a 90-Day Sex Fast to Make His Marr

Here's what he and his wife survived

The average man doesn't just choose to abstain from sex for 90 days. The average man goes 90 days trying to have sex and repeatedly failing. Terry Crews is not an average man. If you look at the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor, he's approximately 99.9 percent muscle. He is in peak shape. He could have sex whenever he wanted to have sex. Yet, despite being a very strong and desirable man, he and his wife chose to hold off for 90 days.

"I found at the end of the 90 days I was more in love, more turned on. I knew who she was," Crews says. There's more cuddling, more talking, more being in love. That's really sweet, Crews. We're gonna try that, too. Only 89 days to go...

Watch video here

The Brave Terry Crews Went on a 90-Day Sex Fast to Make His Marriage Hotter

[This is a great example of the power of bonding behaviors.]

Research shows oxytocin produces marijuana-like reaction in brai

Watch video about dogs and oxytocin

Oxytocin, the “love drug”, has been indirectly associated with enhancement of pleasure in human interactions including bonding with children and with mates. Daniele Piomelli, the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences at the University of California at Irvine and founding director of the drug discovery and development department at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, is the first to elucidate the chemistry that causes the bliss that oxytocin produces. The discovery was presented in the Oct. 26, 2015, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Oxytocin production is stimulated by another compound called anandamide that has been called the "bliss molecule." Anandamide preferentially binds to receptors that are most receptive to endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced chemicals that have a similar structure to the active compound in marijuana called THC. Anandamide is known to activate the neuroreceptors that produce sensations of happiness and heightened motivation.

Social contact produces an increase in the production of anandamide in the brain structure called the nucleus accumbens. The increase in production of anandamide increases the pleasure associated with socialization. Oxytocin production naturally increases the production of anandamide and reinforces the good feelings associated with socialization. The researchers manipulated the chemistry of mouse brains to prevent the production of anandamide and saw lower levels of social behavior. The researchers also discovered a means to prevent the natural degradation of anandamide that may lead to a natural treatment for anxiety and autism. This is the first chemical explanation for the action of oxytocin.

Research shows oxytocin produces marijuana-like reaction in brain


Thanks Marnia,

It gets me to ask the question: Is it the mind that informs the body or is it the body that informs the mind? Perhaps both are true!