The Love Drug

IMG_3662Did 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?

9 comments to The Love Drug

  • Hi Sheryl, great post again. This actually reminds me of the process of mastery of any craft. The “loving feeling” and the muse appear as you keep on showing up with loving action even when you don’t feel like it sometimes. And our exotic ideas of the calling are quite different from the real life persistence which is required for mastery and ultimately more satisfying. Love must be a craft too, then ;)

    • That is so beautifully expressed, Ebele. And, yes, love must be a craft, that subtle blend of skill and art that grows into mastery with practice. I LOVE that!

  • Kim

    I love that Ebele! I so agree!

  • This part really spoke to me: 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.

    Love everything you write Sheryl! <3

  • Leaf

    Sheryl, thank you for a beautiful, insightful, inspiring post. Good feelings fostered simply and sustainably by flowing with good feelings, being the future we want to see, living/loving the love we want to feel.

  • t.l

    Hi Sheryl,

    I have just discovered my most deepest anxiety about my relationship. I have always found my boyfriend was the ‘perfect man’ in terms of my type: both physically and with what he does with his life. We are never short on conversation, never awkward with eachother. However, when I’ve ‘gotten over’ people from my past, it has always been about trying to convince myself of their unattractiveness, so I can forget that ‘magnetic pull’ towards them. Now, with my boyfriend… last year I had mad infatuation for him. I had to take the same steps to get over him as at the time he wasn’t interested. Of course, when his feelings changed a few months back I took him back, but… physical contact and intimacy, although sweet, didn’t stir anything up in me. Which was certainly a shock as I was expecting a lot more.
    I was not ‘drawn’ to him with that ‘magnetic pull’ I used to experience. But at the same time, it is not a repulsion. Am I just kidding myself? Is it possible that his physical attractiveness is blinding me from the thought that I may not have any attraction there?

  • JG

    Sheryl,

    I am a fan of your work and all the wisdom you have to offer. I saw this circling the internet and I thought you would enjoy it, and your readers would if you have not already read it. Its a bit of wisdom that I found. Its truth really hits home

    ARE YOU WITH THE RIGHT PARTNER?

    During a seminar, a woman asked,” How do I know if I am with the right person?”

    The author then noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so he said, “It depends. Is that your partner?”
    In all seriousness, she answered “How did you know?”
    “Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it’s weighing on your mind.” replied the author.

    Here’s the answer:

    Every relationship has a cycle… In the beginning; you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls, want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love.

    People in love sometimes say, I was swept of my feet. Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something happened TO YOU.

    Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It’s a natural cycle of EVERY relationship.

    Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.

    At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, “Am I with the right person?” And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships breakdown.

    The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.

    People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfillment. Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes.

    Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it.

    I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later.

    Because (listen carefully to this)

    The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the Person you found.

    SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it.

    Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your partner), just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. If you know how to apply these laws, the results are predictable.

    Love is therefore a “decision”. Not just a feeling.

    Remember this always: the universe determines who walks into your life. It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go!

    • Yes, I’ve read it, but it’s great to read it again. This is exactly what I teach in the Open Your Heart program: the laws and actions that govern having a healthy, loving, sustainable relationship.