By Emily Murray
Nothing says romance like having blood drawn…
While most of us look to actions, words and feelings to know if he or she is “the one,” a new study suggests that a simple blood test could take the guessing game out of courtship. If you had the chance to see if your love would last with a blood test, would you do it? Would this type of thing simply sap the fun out of seeing where the relationship goes or is it helpful for those to know when it is time to move on?
These are many of the questions that arise with a study like this one, but romantic or not, perhaps there is some merit to knowing who will last and who won’t.
This study, recently published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, in part reiterates something we have known for some time now. What makes us feel bonded and “warm and fuzzy” when we are in love is the chemical called oxytocin. It’s released in the brain and is responsible for bonding us as parents to a newborn child and also bonds us with our lover. Previous studies have shown that it is often released more in women during sexual intimacy and is also released by the brain when breastfeeding a child.
This information then served as a jumping off point for the study.
According to their findings, couples with the highest levels of oxytocin were associated with more “emotional responsiveness,” as mentioned in a TIME article on the study.
The study group consisted of 163 20-somethings and 120 were new couples, while the rest were single. When their blood samples were tested, perhaps unsurprisingly, those in new relationships had higher levels of oxytocin in their bodies than those who were single.
When researchers were able to follow up with some of the couples six months later, at least 25 were still together and in fact those were among the participants with then highest levels of oxytocin. Those who have this chemical present are more likely to act affectionate with one another and are more likely to touch than those with low levels of the hormone.
Another interesting fact researchers were able to learn was that despite the previous belief that the hormone levels were highest after sexual intimacy, it now appears that levels can be just as high before intercourse has even happened showing that this hormone release has more to do with love than just physical passion.
According to the article, what we can take from this is that if we are looking to improve our connection with our partner, merely “acting in love” can be the best remedy. While there has been some interest in taking oxytocin as a medication to improve communication, it is generally avoided since it can have unpleasant side effects like obsessiveness and anxiety…and these are things that definitely don’t help communication. Until we find a synthetic hormone that can duplicate these effects in the body, take the time to really love your partner. While this study shows that the oxytocin levels can predict relationship longevity, it’s not likely that labs will start offering this to the public anytime soon – not to mention it might really weird out your partner if you suggested it!