Researchers find key to lasting love in oxytocin

Israeli scientists say a hormone in the brain decides the longevity of a relationship.

It’s Valentine’s Day and many couples will declare trust and respect to one another as a sign of love. But according to a new Israeli study, the secret to long-lasting love stories is found in our brains. And it’s a hormone called oxytocin.

Bar-Ilan University’s Psychology Professor Ruth Feldman found that couples who stay together have higher levels of oxytocin in their blood when they first pair up than couples who ultimately break up.

Oxytocin is a hormone that has been linked to sexual reproduction, maternal bonding and anxiety.

Feldman spent years studying the hormone’s role in the mother–child bond. She called on Cupid to aim his arrow at the brain and decided to compare oxytocin levels in new lovers and singles.

“The increase in oxytocin during the period of falling in love was the highest that we ever found,” Feldman reported.

The study looked at 60 couples. Levels of oxytocin were measured through a simple blood test. Couples with the highest levels of the hormone were still together six months after the start of the study. Feldman reported that they were also more touchy feely to each other.

“These findings suggest that [oxytocin] in the first months of romantic love may serve as an index of relationship duration,” wrote the researchers.

The study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Photo by Shutterstock.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.
  • Pj Carron

    I have a question for Professor Feldman. Some time ago I read somewhere that engaging in sex too early in a relationship prevents the production of oxytocin and delays, if not stops the bonding.
    Could this be true ?