This "love potion", called oxytocin, exists only in mammals and is both a brain chemical and a hormone. Discovered back in 1909, scientists have dubbed oxytocin as the "cuddle hormone" for its ability to promote strong bonds between mother and infant and as well as between two adult lovers.
Most accurately, oxytocin is described as the master chemical of social connection. We have long known in humans, oxytocin is released during breast-feeeding and orgasm.
We have now discovered that our brain gives us a little dose of that "cuddle hormone" whenever we are physically near to those we love. In fact, just thinking of who we love will trigger a rush of this hormone. This chemical packs a punch! A whiff of oxytocin increases our tendency to trust and engage with others in a less defensive, and more empathic way.
That said, the social effects of oxytocin are still mind-boggling. When dosed with oxytocin, we fixate more on others and gaze longer into their eyes. Scientists suggest this may be why oxytocin helps us better read others' facial expressions and correctly tune in to their intentions.
Let's face it, we need to stick around people with whom we feel pleasure. Positive romantic love expands our world. It makes us more confident, more flexible, and open.
Just think, a kiss can bring a cascade of oxytocin and dopamine that shuts off stress hormones, brings down our heart rater, and tunes up our brain's ability to read our lover's face!
Dr. Sue Johnson, Love Sense