This guest article from Psych Central was written by Athena Staik, PhD
Perhaps no experience in the course of our lifetime, whether conscious or subconscious, consumes more energy, or produces more intense emotions, and up and down extremes in thinking or behaving, than the drive to secure the heart of that special person we seek, and to make a difference in some way – to matter and bring value to the relationship.
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the way we express love and care for one another, from the time we are infants and throughout our lives, directly affects the health and physical structure of our brains and nervous systems.
Certain actions, ones that convey emotional messages of kindness, caring and love, can affect positive changes on partners and their relationship by releasing a particular feel-good hormone, oxytocin, which amps up the love-connection pathways of the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland and stimulates the release of other chemical hormones in the heart.
According to neuroscientist Alan Schore, author of several groundbreaking books, such as Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development and Affect Regulation and the Repair of Self, one of the most important conclusions from neuroscience is that the human brain, throughout life, is predisposed to be physically molded, in ongoing ways, by relational experiences and interactions in social learning contexts.
Though we are born with the equipment for these social behaviors, the wiring of neural pathways to these areas of the brain must be activated. Early experiences with primary caregivers can form a template for love later in life, with enduring effects on partners’ ability to meaningfully connect. Additionally, the inevitable challenges in couple relationships, and the tendency to resolve conflicts in ways that escalate reactivity, can also affect or weaken the wiring of these caring-responses.
To naturally energize feelings of love and safety between you and your partner, here’s a list off 20 actions that, essentially, amp up the love by amping up one another’s sense of safety in the relationship.