Humans live by social bond and accomplish things together thanks to Oxytocin, the "love hormone"
Oxytocin is the most people's favorite chemical. It's the feeling of friendship, love or deep trust. It is the feeling we get when we're in the company of our closest friends or trusted colleagues. it is the feeling we get when we do some-thing nice for someone or someone does something nice for us. It is responsible for all the warm and fuzzies. This is the feeling we get when we all hold hands and sing "Kumbaye” together. But oxytocin is not there just to make us feel good. It is vital to our survival instincts.
Without oxytocin, we wouldn't want to perform acts of generosity. With-out oxytocin there would be no empathy. Without oxytocin, we wouldn't be able to develop strong bonds of trust and friendship. And without that, we wouldn't have anyone we could rely on to watch our backs. Without oxytocin, we would have no partner to raise our children; in fact, we wouldn't even love our children. It is because of oxytocin that we trust others to help us build our businesses, do difficult things or help us out when we're in a bind. It is because of oxytocin that we feel human connections and like being in the company of people we like. Oxytocin makes us social.
As a species that can accomplish more in groups than as individuals, we need to have the instinct to know whom to trust. In a group, no one person has to maintain a constant state of vigilance to make sure they are safe. If we are among people we trust and who trust us, that responsibility can now be shared among the entire group. In other words, we can fall asleep at night confident that someone else will watch for danger. Oxytocin is the chemical that helps direct how vulnerable we can afford to make ourselves. It is a social compass that determines when it's safe to open up and trust or when we should hold back.
Unlike dopamine, which is about instant gratification, oxytocin is long-lasting. The more time we spend with someone, the more we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable around them. As we learn to trust them and earn their trust in return, the more oxytocin flows. In time, as if by magic, we will realize that we have developed a deep bond with this person. The madness and excitement and spontaneity of the dopamine hit is replaced by a more relaxed, more stable, more long-term oxytocin-driven relationship. A vastly more valuable state if we have to rely on someone to help us do things and protect us when we're weak. My favorite definition of love is giving someone the power to destroy us and trusting they won't use it.
It's the same in any new relationship. When we first show up to a new job, we're excited, they're excited, everything is perfect. But the trust we need to feel that our colleagues would watch our backs and help us grow, to really feel like we belong, takes time and energy. Personally or professionally, all the same rules of relationship building apply.
We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we do them.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
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