7 Science-Backed Activities That Will Boost The Love Hormone In Your Relationship
Oxytocin tends to be referred to as "the bonding hormone," "the love hormone," or "the cuddle hormone," so it's no surprise that this hormone plays a role in cultivating intimate relationships. If you're looking to foster feelings of closeness with your partner, you'll want to engage in these ways to boost oxytocin in your relationship that neuroscientists say can create a greater connection. Not only does oxytocin help create a bond with others, but it can help diminish stress and even alleviate physical discomfort.
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction. "Like all of our neurotransmitters, oxytocin is involved in various psychological and physiological processes," neuroscientist and holistic wellness expert Leigh Winters tells Bustle. "It plays a significant role in pair bonding, whether it’s friendship, marriage, or maternal instinct. Oxytocin has also been demonstrated to heighten self-awareness, making it extremely useful for understanding pro-social behaviors, like trust and empathy."
If you want to take your relationship to the next level with someone, boosting your levels of oxytocin is a great way to do it. Here are seven things to do with your partner to boost the bonding hormone oxytocin in both of you, according to neuroscientists.
1. Listen To Music
Studies show that listening to music creates a rise in oxytocin. "Partners that listen to music together likely experience that warm, fuzzy feeling that oxytocin creates as they bond over their shared taste in music," Shadeen Francis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist with a clinical background in neuroscience, tells Bustle. So crank a new playlist on your next road trip, or surprise your partner with their favorite song when they come home.
2. Do Something Adventurous
Ride a rollercoaster together, take a challenging hike, or find another thrill-seeking activity that you will both enjoy — it creates a connection. "Moderately stressful activities done with another person boost adrenaline levels, but they also increase your oxytocin levels as your body works to counteract the stress," says Francis. Getting your heart rate up by doing something daring can certainly bond you and your partner.
Oxytocin is called the cuddle hormone for a reason. "Although this hormone is often the inspiration to snuggle up to your sweetheart, cuddling in itself can trigger an oxytocin release," says Francis. "Touch, light pressure and warm temperature all increase oxytocin levels in the bloodstream, so don’t be afraid to be a little handsy with one another. Hugging, petting, cuddling — all great oxytocin boosters."
4. Have Conscious Sex
This one should come as no surprise. When people think of oxytocin, their mind immediately goes to sex. "Oxytocin boosts sexual arousal and can help solidify intimate relationships," says Winters. "By approaching sex from a mindful perspective of union and bonding, oxytocin may skyrocket. In fact, some recent research hypothesizes that increased oxytocin may contribute to fidelity and relationship success."
Reduce your stress level together by engaging in meditation. "Contemplative practice, like meditation, may help with other processes that majorly contribute to happiness in relationships, like emotion regulation," says Winters. "Oxytocin can help reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels by stimulating positive emotions, like joy, peace, hope, and pride."
If you’re looking to try something new, volunteer together. A study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that oxytocin levels spike in people who regularly volunteer. "It has been conjectured that such compassion and acts of service may foster deeper introspection about one’s own life," says Winters. "This reflection often leads to gratitude for all the love and many fulfilling relationships that one has in their life."
7. Give Little Gifts
"Oxytocin is released when we feel cherished, loved, or truly emotionally connected," says Winters. "And for those with the love language that is gift-giving, sometimes a little token or thoughtful note or message, can go a long way." It doesn’t have to be an expensive or big gift — it's the thought that counts.
Experts say regularly engaging in these activities can help foster a feeling of closeness and connection between you and your partner that will help grow your relationship and make it last.