Is This Chemical Messing Up Your Love Life?

how oxytocin is ruining your relationships
Self

Men are notorious for being the elusive partner. After the sexual rendezvous is over, a man may want to have nothing to do with a woman; he will go on to chase down another woman only to be bored in the end of the relationship. Then suddenly, she's chasing him down. This game of "cat and mouse" in dating seems to never end. I even see this within committed relationships. So what gives?

If you're tired of going from one casual hookup to another, it's possible you may be letting a little chemical called "oxytocin" get the best of you.

Oxytocin is often called the "love hormone," said to be released during intercourse — it encourages bonding and studies suggest that it's more powerful in women, causing them to attach to the men they have sex with. One study I read recently even suggested that too much oxytocin can cause men to withdraw. So oxytocin overdose can occur, causing men to feel less interested in bonding? There's also some evidence that the act of being rejected stimulates a part in our brain, which may cause us to chase the very thing that eludes us (so it would seem that "playing hard to get" actually works).

It's at the heart of why women often complain about feeling objectified. Women will complain about being "eye candy" and how they want to be more than someone's sex toy. But the truth of the matter is that men can feel objectified too, because women often have their sights on what a man can do for them. Women desperately want a husband, a prince charming, a person to fulfill all those romantic notions.

In this all too common scenario, one person may feel attached and therfore chase, while the other will run away. So, what to do?

More sex advice from YourTango:

When you feel the oxytocin, dopamine, testosterone or whichever chemical reactor is making you feel pathologically, possessively or obsessively attached to someone who doesn't seem to be giving you back quite as much, it means it's time to relax. Be a friend. Allow the relationship to unfold in its own time.

Do you even want what you think you want? Take a deep breath, focus on yourself, take a walk, go for a jog, take a yoga class and remind yourself there are other forces at work here. What you crave and desire, you will only push away by clinging too hard. People want to feel appreciated, and genuinely liked before they will respond in jest.

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I think this whole concept that there are hormones responsible for our attachments is fine, but I like to remind people we are also in control of how we respond to emotions and feelings within our bodies. While you may feel compelled to hound the object of our affections down as a result of chemicals in your brain, you have to stop and think: "Is this really what I want?"

Moushumi Ghose is a sex and relationship therapist and expert, based in Los Angeles. She is the host of The Sex Talk. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.