Dear Researcher,

I share a bond with someone for which I can not be more grateful. I really don’t think there is more I can ask for from this bond with them. Sure, I’ll occasionally want some more flowers and attention, but really I’d just ask for one thing. I always want to make sure my partner knows their feelings and love are received by me. I know I do what I can to show my appreciation and reciprocate their love. Regardless, it’s a need of mine that they know that their expressions of gratitude and love are loud and clear to me. I think if they know I’m truly receiving and feeling their love, it would provide them further happiness and comfort in our relationship and strengthen our bond even more. I’d probably get more happiness and comfort myself. Is there any way to really guarantee this or am I being too dreamy and needy?

Dear Needy (I’m just kidding…*THOUGHTFUL*) Partner,

I’m very happy to hear that in spite of your relationship seeming to be quite perfect right now, you’re nonetheless seeking ways to strengthen your bond with your partner. I’m sure your (dreamy) desire for your partner to know that you receive and appreciate their love is primarily coming from a place of thoughtful consideration rather than some sort of desperation. This is an understandable desire, as I believe we’d do anything to make sure our partner is happy. What other way to do this than to make sure they know that we’re happy ourselves and grateful for their love!? Let me walk you through some details that center around the love hormone – oxytocin – so that we can start to clear up how we can ensure our partners have a high level of what we’re gonna call perceived expresser responsiveness.  

A study conducted in 2017 revealed that higher levels of oxytocin in a target may be associated with them being more able to perceive an expresser’s responsiveness and gratitude, along with the former being able to experience greater feelings of love (1). In other words, relating this finding to your particular situation, researchers would say that, as the expresser, your expressions of gratitude and love may be felt more deeply when your partner (the target, in this case) has higher levels of oxytocin. When this love hormone is running rampant and high in your partner, it’s fair to believe that you would, in return, have a high success rate of fulfilling your need and ensuring your partner deeply feels your gratitude and love. 

However, as has been previously mentioned in a similar fashion on this blog, having access to something that can measure your partner’s oxytocin levels on the fly may be pretty rare. I wish I could avidly recommend the researchers’ methods, but considering this consists of utilizing urine samples, I think it’d be best if I provide you with some information about how to boost oxytocin levels and its release as advice instead. With its release rooted in body contact and touch, it’s not a surprise that something like massages, through which the body is healed by touch and stimulation of pressure receptors, are something through which oxytocin can be increased (2). Unless you and/or your partner would prefer a professional, I suggest you begin learning and providing massages more often to increase the chance of achieving your desire for your partner!

By the sound of it, I don’t think I have to advise you on how to maintain and/or strengthen your bond if jealousy somehow entered the picture of your relationship. Still, I’ll leave you with a final finding regarding the impact and benefits of oxytocin, just in case you end up needing it (though I hope this will not be the case). A study conducted this year found that in established relationships, the negative emotional impact of jealousy can be reduced through a treatment of intranasal oxytocin (3). Regardless of whether this sense of jealousy was elicited by imagined or real infidelity, these researchers nonetheless found that a significant main effect of treatment, observing decreased ratings of jealousy and promoting the idea that oxytocin can be used as a way to maintain relationships (3). 

I hope you’ve gotten a better understanding of the love hormone we call oxytocin. Your need and desire for your partner to be aware of your successful reception of their love and gratitude is truly touching, so I’m more than happy to provide you with some helpful information on how oxytocin can play a role. Keep showing them your love and appreciation and keep strengthening that bond!

References

  1. Algoe, S. B., Kurtz, L. E., & Grewen, K. (2017). Oxytocin and social bonds: The role of oxytocin in perceptions of romantic partners’ bonding behavior. Psychological Science28(12), 1763–1772. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617716922
  1. Field, T. (2021). The power of touch: Oxytocin, the “love hormone,” is released by massage therapy. In N. K. Dess (Ed.), A multidisciplinary approach to embodiment: Understanding human being. (pp. 118–120). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429352379-24
  1. Zheng, X., Xu, X., Xu, L., Kou, J., Luo, L., Ma, X., & Kendrick, K. M. (2021). Intranasal oxytocin may help maintain romantic bonds by decreasing jealousy evoked by either imagined or real partner infidelity. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 35(6), 668–680. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881121991576

2 Replies to “How to Guarantee That They Will Know… : Oxytocin’s Grand Role

  1. Love reading this post about oxytocin and relationship bonds! It’s very interesting to see how perceived partner responsiveness plays a large role in feelings of love and gratitude. This is unique because perceived partner responsiveness can be so different from one partner to the next. I loved hearing some realistic tips such as massages for your significant other! Physical touch can be critical for connecting two together and lets you feel the love by your partner. Another example can be mutual gazing aka looking into each other eyes. When you stare into each other eyes there is physiological response of releasing oxytocin and dopamine. Its crazy how connected the hormones in the brain are connected with your feelings for your partner

  2. I love how you connected the idea of oxytocin and social bonds with a practical scenario!! I also found your comment on massage humorous and adorable!! I wonder if there will be ways to measure that’s less (…uh, weird?) complicated than urine samples — like nasal swaps or something! Additionally, I think it would be interesting if to see evidence on whether otherwise-induced (not by romantic love) oxytocin level can positively affect how partners in a romantic relationship perceive each other. I remember reading about studies about oxytocin levels in mother-child engagements, but I don’t recall how they turned out. It would also be interesting to look at the cortical level in parallel with oxytocin levels. There might be some interesting literature on this — an inverse relationship between the two would have important implications on how we can behaviorally moderate perceived relationship happiness.

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