Falling in lust is easy. You see someone you like and dopamine immediately starts pumping through your brain, making you want to look at them again, which releases even more. That dopamine build-up soon converts into norepinephrine, focusing your desires into passionate obsession. But lust becomes less rewarding as it’s satisfied, so true, long-term love needs lots of oxytocin too, the neurotransmitter that triggers feelings of altruism, empathy, and kindness. Simple skin contact with another person will prompt a small release of oxytocin into your emotional brain centre, the hypothalamus. Marriage triggers a flood.
Other ways to boost your oxytocin
One in 20 people cannot naturally produce oxytocin, meaning they have many of the characteristics of psychopaths. But by using a nasal inhaler, pure oxytocin can be delivered to the brain. With a little help, even psychopaths can fall in love.
Petting a dog won’t just boost its oxytocin levels, it will also boost yours. The ideal pace of petting for maximum oxytocin release is 40 strokes a minute, a pace many mammals – including humans – adopt instinctively.
In a recent experiment monitoring the oxytocin levels of workers at a Korean TV station, one subject recorded a staggering 150 percent surge in oxytocin while seated at his desk. His Internet history revealed that checking his girl-friend’s Facebook profile was the cause.
The more money you receive, the more oxytocin is released inside your brain. But according to a 2007 University of Zurich study, when buzzing with oxytocin you’re also far more likely to give your cash away to someone you have never met.