Your Brain and Love

Valentine's Day may be over, but I hope you're still feeling loved and connected. 

Oxytocin is the hormone that is also known as the "love" hormone. Levels in your bloodstream go up when you hug or kiss someone. It increases bonding between mother and child during and after childbirth, and oxytocin receptors are distributed throughout various regions of your brain. 

Experiments show that people who receive oxytocin e.g. via a nasal spray are more likely to empathize and collaborate with relative strangers (1).

More recently, oxytocin may also find application in children with autism, as it seems to stimulate those brain regions that encourage social behavior. (2)

Other studies suggest that children also respond to invitations to play. They may be experiencing more stress than their peers, as measured by increased levels of cortisol in their saliva, but they more easily interact when invited. (3) 

Before you grab that spray, be warned of the consequences: You may find yourself more focused on facial expression, and able to identify e.g. fear more easily. Unfortunately, one side effect of too much oxytocin can be over-sensitivity and misreading of such social cues, meaning you might completely  misinterpret what's really going on. (4)

What about the different stages of love?

Mentalfloss published an article last month going into some detail. For example, when you first fall in love, there's a mixture of dopamine and nerve growth factor coursing through your veins. It's effects have been likened to OCD. 

The longer the relationship lasts, the more a mixture of serotonin and oxytocin help balance things out into a less obsessive and more stable and trusting kind of love. 

Since harmony and connection are integral pieces to the extraverted Feeling function, I can't help but wonder if ExFJ and IxFJ personality types show more oxytocin receptors or better connections between the involved brain regions. If you know of any studies, please share them!

If you'd like to explore your romantic connection with your partner, or get clearer on what you're looking for in a partner, contact me to learn how knowing your personality type preferences can improve your relationships.