Sure being wooed and having your partner utter those three magical words, "I love you", is a way to tell if he's into you, but according to a new study, there is a much less romantic way to predict love -- though a blood test.
According to the study, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, higher levels of oxytocin — the hormone known as the "cuddle chemical," which rises during breast-feeding, lovemaking and parent-child bonding — were associated with more emotional responsiveness between couples and predicted which couples would stay together longer than others.
Margaret Hicks, a relationship expert and registered therapist with over 20 years of experience, says that although she thinks these findings are fascinating, it is important not to rule out other elements that effect a relationship. "Love is still mysterious. It can't be brought down to a purely biological explanation. There are so many factors," says Hicks.
Other factors include moral values, money, education, lifestyle, life goals, dreams and of course, sexual chemistry, which Hicks notes is different than bonding. "Bonding is more about long term love and sexual chemistry is more about desire. You need bonding to sustain a relationship," says Hicks, who adds, "Though first you have to start the fire before it can endure."
The TIME article adds some interesting perceptive to Hicks comments:
Interestingly, it was love rather than sex that the study found to be associated with oxytocin. While prior research has found that oxytocin levels rise at orgasm, this study found that new couples had higher oxytocin levels than singles, regardless of whether they had consummated the relationship.
Hicks believe there is still a lot more to learn on this subject, such as how nature affects the biological side of things. Some of the questions she would like answered:
"How has oxytocin affected these couples earlier in their lives? Does neglect, trauma, and abuse versus emotional stability impact your oxytocin levels?"
How strong do you think biological factors play a role in matters of love? Tell us what you think.