Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 13th 2013 Contents to be more inti-
mate and touch
each other more
often, they can
likely boost their
without the aid of a drug. It s also likely that
enhancing intimacy in this way will do more
good for your relationship in the long run than
any pill ever could." (cnn.com)
It s a Saturday night.
You get the kids to bed,
wash the dishes and
plop down on the couch
for a marathon of reality
TV. Across the room,
your partner is engrossed in his or her iPad.
Later, you give each other a chaste kiss good
night, roll over and go to sleep.
On one hand, you wish the magic of your heady
early days would return. On the other, you re not
sure if you really care that much anymore.
It s a scene so typical in many marriages and
long-term relationships that it s no wonder only
an estimated 37 per cent of couples say they re still
very happy together.
But what are your options? Divorce? Therapy?
How about a "love drug" guaranteed to keep you
That s the premise of a recent report in Current
Opinion in Psychiatry that examined the implications
of a potential pharmaceutical drug aimed at keeping
couples happy and in love.
Surveys suggest that humans may not be meant
to stay in lifelong, monogamous relationships:
Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, while
up to 72 per cent of husbands and 52 per cent of
wives cop to cheating on their spouses.
Yet many couples want to remain married, despite
the potential problems. Based on this concept,
researchers at the University of Oxford considered
what might happen if couples had access to an
intranasal spray containing oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the "cuddle hormone" that s released
during childbirth, nursing and orgasm, resulting in
feelings of closeness, bonding and connection. Could
a spritz of liquid oxytocin have the same effects on
your romantic relationship? Some research suggests
that it might.
For example, one study published last year in the
journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
found that, of 47 couples, those who sniffed oxytocin
before discussing a disagreement were more likely
to react positively toward each other than those
who used a placebo spray. Such a product, say the
authors of the more recent report, could be used
under the direction of therapists and other clinicians
to "enhance marital well-being."
Yet other evidence suggests that the effects of
this hormone may not always be so beneficial: In
some research, oxytocin was found to amplify neg-
ative memories, while studies of the prairie vole---
one of few animals that remain in lifelong relation-
ships, presumably because of its high levels of
oxytocin---show that this critter is also prone to
infidelity. When it comes to supplemental oxytocin,
there are ethical issues to consider, too.
"Pharmaceutical companies are pushing the med-
ical approach because it s profitable, while doctors
and patients are increasingly demanding medications
because taking a pill or using a spray is cheaper
and easier than therapy," said social psychologist
Justin Lehmiller. "I m uncomfortable with the notion
that the key to solving relationship problems is
taking a drug."
Of course, that hasn t stopped manufacturers
from jumping on the bandwagon: Safe or not, a
slew of oxytocin-based products are for sale, no
prescription necessary. Aimed at improving rela-
tionships between partners and supposedly increas-
ing attraction among strangers, these products are
Instead, I recommend boosting oxytocin naturally.
It could be as easy as simply giving each other a
nice long squeeze. In her book The Female Brain,
Dr Louann Brizendine says that hugging your partner
for 20 seconds or more has been shown to trigger
the release of oxytocin.
Added Lehmiller, "If couples make an active effort
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 13, 2013
Does your relationship
need a 'love drug'?
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
not be meant
to stay in
Roughly half of
end in divorce,
while up to 72
per cent of
52 per cent of
wives cop to
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