Dr. Helen’s neuroscience findings left her with three pieces of advice for us to use to positively impact our romantic relationships. She suggested we focus on stimulating three aspects of our neurochemistry:
- Sex Drive: Being intimate with your partner. This boosts testosterone, oxytocin, + dopamine.
- Feelings of Romantic Love: Introducing novelty; sustains feelings of intense romantic love by mutually increasing dopamine levels regularly. Do new things with your partner regularly for mutual benefit.
- Attachment System: making touch a regular part of your routine. This promotes oxytocin production, the bonding chemical of the brain that helps form attachments with others. As relational beings, oxytocin can stimulate feelings of safety and trust within relationships. Oxytocin also can influence our mood in a positive way.
According to her research, the people in successful long term relationships (in married/committed relationships for an average of 21 years) demonstrated notable activity in the brain regions connected to empathy, emotion regulation, and positive illusions (the ability to focus on the things you like about the person instead of the negative).
Lastly, she stated that saying 5-7 compliments to your partner a day is important. The study suggested these positive interactions were correlated with reduction in cortisol and cholesterol.
It’s so interesting to know how brain chemistry can influence us individually and mutually in relationships.