Oxytocin: the Love Hormone.

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The Chemistry of Love.

Jealousy: Why Women can’t have Affairs & why Men can’t handle Open Relationships.

The Love Hormone.

When women have affairs they become emotionally bonded whether they like it or not, my friend Lisa said this morning. She told me to look up Oxytocin.

On the other hand, Krystal, who wrote an article about the pros of cons of her considering an Open Relationship, points out that while men may want to play around, they also quickly reject the idea upon seeing that, generally, their ladyfriends find it much easier to find partners.

So if women more easily and deeply bond, and men may think they’re more promiscuous, men are also more protective, jealous, insecure, and unwilling to handle the razor’s edge of non-attachment that an open relationship might require.

And so, in the end, we as a society continue to marry, or stay single, or have affairs, and it’s all so messy and silly and sad and exciting.

Oxytocin: the Love Hormone.

Strange Rumors & Facts about Oxytocin.

Did you know? Hugging for 20 seconds releases Oxytocin, which can make someone trust you more. It also can make you seem creepy or New Agey.

Update:  A single dose of the hormone oxytocin, delivered via nasal spray, has been shown to enhance brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders, Yale researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (psychologytoday.com)

Update: Women can have affairs, and do, of course: there’s an entire web site devoted to hooking up under-oxytocinized philandering women):

Did you know? Love hormone Oxytocin can cause emotional pain, new study says. “Oxytocin strengthens negative social memory and future anxiety by triggering an important signaling molecule called extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) that becomes activated for 6 hours after a negative social experience” (sci-news.com)

Did you know? Oxytocin could provide new treatment for anorexia: Oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’, could provide a new treatment for anorexia nervosa, according to new research by a team of British and Korean scientistsNeuroscience (kcl.ac.uk)

Study: Abused girls have very high oxytocin, which may motivate them to engage in sexual behaviors earlier than their peers (news.wisc.edu)

A single dose of the hormone oxytocin, delivered via nasal spray, has been shown to enhance brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders, Yale researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Neuroscience (psychologytoday.com)

Hugging for 20 seconds releases Oxytocin, which can make someone trust you more. (news.bbc.co.uk)

Chimpanzees who share their food with others have higher levels of the hormone oxytocinBiology (mpg.de)

In FASEB Journal today: Serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior, are all activated by vitamin D hormone. Relevance for autism. Biology (fasebj.org)




Story of my life
Searching for the right
But it keeps avoiding me
Sorrow in my soul
Cause it seems that wrong
Really loves my company

He’s more than a man
And this is more than love
The reason that the sky is blue
The clouds are rolling in
Because I’m gone again
And to him I just can’t be true

And I know that he knows I’m unfaithful
And it kills him inside
To know that I am happy with some other guy
I can see him dying

I don’t wanna do this anymore
I don’t wanna be the reason why
Everytime I walk out the door
I see him die a little more inside
I don’t wanna hurt him anymore
I don’t wanna take away his life
I don’t wanna be…
A murderer

I feel it in the air
As I’m doing my hair
Preparing for another date
A kiss upon my cheek
As he reluctantly
Asks if I’m gonna be out late
I say I won’t be long
Just hanging with the girls
A lie I didn’t have to tell
Because we both know
Where I’m about to go
And we know it very well

Cause I know that he knows I’m unfaithful
And it kills him inside
To know that I am happy with some other guy
I can see him dying

I don’t wanna do this anymore
I don’t wanna be the reason why
Everytime I walk out the door
I see him die a little more inside
I don’t wanna hurt him anymore
I don’t wanna take away his life
I don’t wanna be…
A murderer

Our love, his trust
I might as well take a gun and put it to his head
Get it over with
I don’t wanna do this
Anymore (anymore)

I don’t wanna do this anymore
I don’t wanna be the reason why
And everytime I walk out the door
I see him die a little more inside
And I don’t wanna hurt him anymore
I don’t wanna take away his life
I don’t wanna be…
A murderer (a murderer)

No no no no

Yeah yeah yeah

Oxytocin videos:



Relephant links:

The Science of Arousal: Men versus Women. {Adult}

The Science of Our Brains on Sex.

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


45 Responses to “Oxytocin: the Love Hormone.”

  1. Tiffany says:

    If you have never read Still Life with Woodpecker, I suggest doing so. It will answer all questions you may have about love and relationships. If you have read it and it doesn't, reread it
    "Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free."
    — Tom Robbins

    • Evolve Yoga says:

      beautiful and true!

    • Evolve Yoga says:

      also: i've read skinny legs and all" and "fierce invalids home from hot climates", but i'll have to check out "still life with woodpecker". i love robbins!

    • Ella says:

      One of my all time favorite Toms, one of my all time favorite quotes. Here here! Even Cowgirls Get The Blues is my oatmeal cookie dipped in hot almond milk novel though.

      "The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that. We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love. "-Tom Robbins

    • johnie B says:

      Gotta find it and read it. I love Tom Robbins.

    • I love that book! What a great quote.


    • Arion999 says:

      Couldn't agree more about the book. As far as this article goes, it has an agenda in it called monogamy. I just finished the book "Sex at Dawn" about a month ago, and nowhere in their research about pre-historical primordial foraging societies were there incidences of murder or injury based on jealousy or possessiveness towards a mate or life partner. The old matriarchial based societies were mostly non-monogamous. The chemical oxytocin is generated by our desire to connect, belong and bond to others. It is not the all powerful evidence that monogamy is our natural state. In the end, these arguments will fall short of the reality and complexity of the human being (anthropos) and Nature.

  2. elephantjournal says:


    Tobye H hmmmm

    Laura B: that just about sums it up, doesn't it?
    as the Pixies would say,
    "we're chained
    chained" etc etc

  3. […] that I run in, it is hard to find many people who, upon learning that my partner and I are not 100% sexually exclusive, don’t begin explaining their own preference for monogamy with some degree of […]

  4. Daniel says:

    There are sweeping generalizations and stereotypes here that are not even true for a majority! There are men that can handle NSA sex it and men that can't there are women that can handle it there are those that can't and far more plasticity in both than the social narratives suggest! Lesson: avoid claiming a one size fits all model of life and projecting it as a norm! vive la différence

    • elephantjournal says:

      Daniel, the title is a starting point for discussion, not a statement. ~ W.

    • @TheeKruger says:

      Seem's to be a statement "Why women cant have affairs".

      At the end of the day, there are different people, relationships aren't for everyone. The problem comes in saying that: "You have to get married, you have to be with one person, this is how it works".

      That's not good, most of my girlfriends were NOT dating types, and eventually all but 2 cheated. It's like dealing with a ticking time bomb, and while they are younger, they haven't figure out how to control/deal with themselves and suppress their wants. So luckily it doesn't take as long for them to blow and go towards what is natural for them. Not that they should suppress themselves, trying to force people to do that, is NOT healthy for them as people. Seriously, forcing a person to be who they aren't is probably pretty damaging to them as people and I personally believe causes them to get a bit more jaded.

      Speaking from a now emotionally removed perspective, why would they do that in the first place? Do what you want!~ Love how and who you want. Ignore society and its spawned bully persona's, they will always be in every corner no matter where you go. I personally prefer relationships, I seek pleasure and adventure through changing the world. Not through new intimate relationships, but through problems and challenges. I recognize I am part of a minority that likes things this way, but this isn't the only way, and forcing everyone into the same box which fits me like a glove, is not okay.

      The day we open up to all forms of love and let people love how they wish to be loved in return, will be a beautiful day for people. I think it would fix a huge chunk of our general societal problems. It would even provide economic relief.

      Point remains, this wasn't opened up in a discussion manner, so Daniel is fair and well grounded in their statement. A statement I support, and a direction/belief that I hope the discussion leans towards.

      I wonder what would happen to how people go out into the dating world if there was a general blanket acceptance for all? Do you think that overall less people would get married? Swinger clubs might become a legitimate business niche? Other potential industries other than the wedding industry?

      Interesting to think about what would happen, beyond the evident reduction in problems, suffering, hate, and conflict.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Misty Pitcher we think we know what we want until we get it.

    Ana Maria Sierra Steamy.

    Dillon Naidoo I've been cheated on several times, does this mean I dated a guy

    Dianne Rohr I believe that oxytocin is the hormone that also spills out into a nursing mother's bloodstream, causing her to bond with the child.

    Victor Omark ‎- women don't know what they want, they only know what they don't want.

    Belinda B You get more oxytocin in healthy,committed relationships than you do in casual ones (esp.affairs) – that goes equally for women AND men. Oxytocin also means you're unlikely to look for an affair because it makes you feel the best of anything out there, and it reduces your stress hormone levels.
    elephantjournal.com, you really need to do some science before you start influencing people with mere opinions.

  6. betterdeal says:

    Both times I've been involved with a woman who told me it wasn't exclusive, that they believed in and practised free love, they both became insanely jealous when I started seeing their friends. Bear in mind they were seeing mine, but oh no, I was being a bastard for being happy in the company of another woman.

    Seems this reductionist shit means as much to actual life as that other reductionist shit, astrology.

    • Miles says:

      I have found the same to be true. Many women talk a good talk but can not live with the consequences.

      • voxleo says:

        it is frowned upon to choose women she knows already. She may sooner become friends with one she doesn't already know though than be jealous. But you don't start out fishing in HER pool. Duh.

  7. […] inevitable. Since the fourth century Plato has discussed human societal bonding. We are mammals and we bond with one another through touch. When we have a sexual relationship this creates a coupling—like it or not—for everyone […]

  8. […] genuine. He wanted in the game first. They both had that feeling of love—but as the endorphins or oxytocin faded, Eco Boy felt increasingly nervous. He wanted to say sweet, uncool things to her about how he […]

  9. […] more romantic than dopamine response system, serotonin high, and oxytocin effect, right? Unless you’re a science geek, in which case you might think it obvious that falling in […]

  10. […] more romantic than dopamine response system, serotonin high, and oxytocin effect, right? Unless you’re a science geek, in which case you might think it obvious that falling in […]

  11. […] new study published in Journal of Neuroscience measured the effects of the hormone oxytocin on men who were approached by an attractive […]

  12. […] then’s there that whole Oxytocin theory about women and affairs. Not sure about that […]

  13. […] a great deal to our understanding of the neuroscience behind love by pointing out some of the basic chemicals that are released into the brain whenever a person feels as if they are in […]

  14. Krishnabrodhi says:

    This piece has blinders on that keeps it from seeing the ocean of people of many genders that happily participate in open relating. And I would be one of them. I have been actively been in open relationships for over 10 years and have never experienced jealousy with regard to my lovers being with others. And I'm pretty sure I'm not some freakish anomaly. Look farther than the monogamy paradigm and you will find a larger truth.

  15. Anna Killilea says:

    I always fall in love, as a woman, and I love falling in love. My husband isn't jelouse when I do fall in love with another guy (I am dating one right now). It is just part of the agreement – when I date I fall in love. Its great fun. I am less promiscuous than my husband though, because I just don't find too many guys I am willing to date. Sure they want to date me, but as a woman, I am picky, and why settle for mediocre when I have a super sweet and sexy husband at home that I am also in love with. Not everyone is jealous. On occasion I feel it for about three minutes, but usually when he is on a date, I feel super happy and proud. Compersion is real, so real that I try to set him up on dates. ANd then I love hearing about them when he gets home. We are best friends and lovers and husband and wife. I also believe that one can control their love. So I pretty much think this article is bogus, because it is built on the premise that falling in love while having an affair is bad, and I think being in love with more than one person at once is awesome!

  16. David says:

    Or maybe read Sex at Dawn…

  17. Rob says:

    Having been through this, I happen to agree with it all. Open relationships work when there is symmetry. Meaning both parties have lovers. I also agree that it’s much easier for a woman to find a lover than a man.

    The unfortunate truth in my situation is the crumbling of the core relationship. The investment into the primary relationship just doesn’t measure up to what is felt and experienced outside. 15 years up in smoke.

    And it’s not just the sexual side either. Open started out meaning open with everything. But 3 years in, it’s a closed relationship with lovers. Interestingly, our marriage and her lovers are both dissolving. Or is it disintegrating. Call it as you may, I’m happier knowing that she is emotionally unavailable. Our relationship has become that similar to her open…. Unattached. And that’s not for me. But not to say open isn’t. Just simply that the terms and conditions of how ours has evolved isn’t.

  18. lsharabi says:

    haven't read this – just the headline: women do have affairs. i have heard it said that statistically it is quite common so i am confused about this title. fact check titles? anyway, rather reductionist no matter what way you look at it.

  19. Eddie says:

    It's late at night, but is this seriously trying to connect something complicated as the jealousy of other men while playing the field, but also an intimate connection with a loved one, and more on oxytocin? This is satire, right? I mean you might as well say that all the motives of the Brothers Karamazov can be boiled down to Oxytocin and vodka and call it a night. Done. See you in St Petersburg, Dmitri.

    It is tempting to point to a biological cause for all manner of things, but it is pretty sloppy science at best. I'm still holding out that this was satire and I, in my tired state, missed the cues.

  20. Jo dragon says:


    you're welcome.

    😉 <3

  21. Devlin says:

    A disappointing article relying on ancient, stereotypical attitudes about women and sex. For a better understanding of women and sex, try, for example, Barbara Ehrenreich's 1987 _Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex_ and also the recent-released, ground-breaking book by Daniel Bergner who discusses recent scientific studies about how women experience sex and desire, _What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire_.

    An excerpt from a review of Bergner's book at The New York Times: "The experiments and data Bergner writes about vary widely and don’t all point in the same direction, but he sets this tour of contemporary sex research against one particular shibboleth: the notion that women are naturally less libidinous than men, 'hard-wired' to want babies and emotional connection but not necessarily sex itself. Bergner, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, blames evolutionary psychologists for spreading a contemporary version of this old idea. He assembles a group of scientists from different fields who talk about how earlier sexist bias has obscured the existence, strength and significance of female sex drive in animal reproduction.

    "No one here is claiming that women’s experience of desire, arousal and orgasm is exactly like men’s. Bergner refers to the possibility of 'a new, unvarnished norm' for female sex drive, but the scientists he interviews aren’t simply arguing that women have a stronger sex drive than commonly thought; some of them are rethinking the significance of female sexuality in reproduction. Female orgasm lost its essential status when scientists in the 1600s began to figure out how the ovum worked. Since then scientific scrutiny has focused overwhelmingly on women’s reproductive rather than sexual function; at times the existence of female desire and arousal and orgasm has been outright denied.

    "Now, researchers who work with animals argue that female anatomy in fact might be specifically adapted to sex with multiple partners — not just over a lifetime, but in the course of a single sexual episode. The different pace at which men and women build to climax might have the purpose of facilitating sex with multiple men in short succession, which would increase the odds of getting pregnant. Paraphrasing a theory put forward by the primatologist and anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Bergner writes that the characteristics of female orgasm 'could well be thoroughly relevant among our ancestors. Its delay, its need of protracted sensation . . . was evolution’s method of making sure that females are libertines, that they move efficiently from one round of sex to the next and frequently from one partner to the next, that they transfer the turn-on of one encounter to the stimulation of the next, building toward climax.'”

    To that, I would add, the continued, protracted prohibitions on women's sexuality and sexual expression (the never-ending battle over birth-control and reproductive rights for women), the historical and contemporary condemnation of women and girls regarding our clothing and sexual behavior, the enforcement of the hijab in the Middle East, the historical "knowledge" of women's sexuality versus men's might be read very simply as men's inherent recognition that women's sexual desire is in fact at least as healthy and libidinous as men's, perhaps in some ways more so. This has also been suggested as the reason for the near global practice of identifying babies through the male line. Because you always know who your mama is, but (until recently with genetic testing) you couldn't be sure of the father. And one of the most effective ways to control people is to deny they experience life in the same ways as those in positions of power do. It was only in the past 20 years, for example, that women were assumed to have a libido. When feminists in the 70s began to refer to women's sexuality as exhibiting libido, they were roundly scorned and ridiculed. Women didn't have libidos. Only men did. Or that was the thinking. I was in my 20s then. I remember how strange and sort of transgressive and even scary and embarrassing it was for me to start talking about my own sexuality as "libido."

    For the NYT review of Bergner's book: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/books/review/wh

  22. hbb2014 says:

    estrogen is necessary for oxytocin bonding so women pre menopausal and men over 45 or 50 are both very bondable and need to be careful with casual sex…specifically intercourse!
    young men (studs) and older women (cougars) can have sex and walk over the body on the way out (as both are on testosterone/progesterone. oxytocin bonding is real… gestating, lactating and now we know fornicating can create the bonding effect. this is not far out…it's science biology and based on brain differences between men and women!
    carla holden

  23. Deborah Bountifull Davis says:

    Waylon, not your most comprehensive piece, nor your best, but definitely an interesting discussion.

  24. Sherry says:

    This article was completely unhinged, unsourced and a cluster of ramblings with no coherent structure.

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