Did you know that there is a drug that alters your chemistry so that you feel more love and attraction for your partner? And the more you use this drug, the greater its effects? Did you know that the more you use it the more you want it but that this is the one drug that is healthfully habit-forming?
The drug is oxytocin. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a drug. It’s a hormone we all have that, when activated, creates a drug-like effect in our bodies that causes us to want to be closer to our loved ones. Amir Levine explains how this works in his fabulous book, “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment – and How it Can Help you Find – and Keep – Love“:
“Oxytocin, a hormone and neuropeptide that has gotten a lot of press coverage in recent years, plays a major role in attachment processes and serves several purposes. It causes women to go into labor, strengthens attachment, and serves as a social cohesion hormone by increasing trust and cooperation. We get a boost of oxytocin in our brain during orgasm and even when we cuddle – that’s why it’s called the ‘cuddle hormone’.
“Sometimes we spend less quality time with our partner – especially when other demands are pressing on us. However, neuroscience findings suggest that we should change our priorities. By forgoing closeness with our partners, we are also missing our oxytocin boost – making us less agreeable to the world around us and more vulnerable to conflict.
“The next time you decide to skip the Sunday morning cuddle in bed for a chance to catch up on your work, think again. This small act may be enough to immunize your relationship against conflict for the next few days.” (pp. 252-252)
What I’ve found is that cuddling and many other loving actions that I teach in my Open Your Heart program do a lot more than minimize conflict: They actually change your perception of your partner so that you can clear the silt away from your fear eyes and see him or her through clear eyes. And what Levine doesn’t address in his book is how to approach the barriers that may jut up like spears around you heart and prevent you from even wanting to make time for that cuddle.
The bottom line is that our bodies affect our minds and our minds affect our bodies. In other words, when we take loving action, we feel more loving, which can only positively affect our state of mind. If there’s one sentiment I hear more than any other among those struggling with doubt and confusion in their relationships it’s, “I just want to feel more love.”
The problem is that people wait for love to drop from the sky like rain or divine intervention. Or, worse, they wait for their partner to “make” them feel loved. They look to everything and anything outside of themselves to feel the in-loveness that they either felt in the beginning or never felt but longed to feel.
Here’s the news flash: It’s not out there. Everything you learned in the culture is wrong. Loving feelings don’t mysteriously and magically arise when you’re with the “right” person. Loving feelings filter up when you take loving action, both for yourself and on behalf of your partner. Loving feelings naturally result when you follow the Love Laws and Loving Actions that form the blueprint for loving partnerships. Loving feelings naturally arise then you address the fear walls and harmful self-beliefs that keep love out.
These Laws and Actions aren’t hard to follow, but you have to know what they are. And then you have to commit to practicing these actions religiously the way a monk or nun follows the rules of conduct and action of their order. For modern relationships are, in fact, the equivalent of a monastery, the place where we’re invited to delve deeply into the labyrinth of psyche to unveil the runes that live there. It’s the hero’s journey. It’s our personal myth and healing. As John Welwood writes in Love and Awakening:
We long to experience the drug-like high of romantic partnership, believing that if we meet “the One” the ecstasy will be ours. Once you overturn this myth you realize, with a great sense of empowerment, that the drug is inside of you. It’s like the hero who embarks on a quest to find the Holy Grail, traveling through forests, swashbuckling vines, battling wild beasts and braving the elements only to realize that he beheld the magic and divinity inside of him all along.
This magic is yours. The divinity is a breath away. The secret lies in learning the skills that will soften your fear walls and help you open your heart. Are you ready to learn?