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Online Dating and the Oxytocin Gap

3676763773_f91c2089de_mA thought-provoking and disturbing article by Dan Slater on TheAtlantic.com posits that online dating sites make it so easy to meet new people that committed relationships fade away.

Slater, author of Love in the Age of Algorithms, uses anecdotes and interviews with the heads of online dating services to make the case that people won't bother to go through the hard work of forging a deep relationship when they know that they can just log on and date someone new.

In my book, The Chemistry of Connection, I discuss the differences between romance and love. Romance, fueled by dopamine and adrenaline, is an exciting but inevitably fading state that keeps us working to win a mate. Once we win him or her and begin having sex, oxytocin kicks in, leading us into the calmer state of committed love.

This progression was crucial in prehistoric times, when sex led to babies and a man and woman had to cooperate to keep their offspring alive. Nowadays, sex has been decoupled from procreation. And, unfortunately, our culture focuses on romance and teaches us that it's more important than simple mated love.

Slater quotes Greg Blatt,  CEO of Match.com’s parent company: "Relationships have been billed as ‘hard’ because, historically, commitment has been the goal. You could say online dating is simply changing people’s ideas about whether commitment itself is a life value."

Here's Niccolò Formai, the head of social-media marketing at Badoo, a meeting-and-dating app: "It’s exhilarating to connect with new people ... Over time you’ll expect that constant flow. People always said that the need for stability would keep commitment alive. But that thinking was based on a world in which you didn’t meet that many people."

Unfortunately, people still have a wired-in need for stability, in the form of trusting relationships. That doesn't need to come from a monogamous sexual relationship. But for most people, marriage of some kind is the primary oxytocin bond, along with children.

Our oxytocin bonds are what keep us healthy and reasonably sane. I worry about generations of singles bouncing from one unfulfilling relationship to another. How will they raise children who are capable of trust and love?

A Million First Dates

Photo by he(art)geek

 


Oxytocin to Treat Fibromyalgia?

For a couple of friends, I wanted to track down evidence that oxytocin could be useful to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There are some shreds, just shreds of evidence. But a single, intravenous dose of oxytocin administered by a doctor should not have negative effects, as long as a woman wasn't pregnant. If I was suffering and had a physician who was willing to experiment, I might try it.

Here's what I found:
Plasma oxytocin levels in female fibromyalgia syndrome patients:

This 2000 study by Anderberg and Uvnas-Moberg looked at oxytocin levels in 39 women with symptoms of fibromyalgia, some of whom were depressed, comparing them to 30 controls (women without fibromyalgia). It found that depressed patients had significantly with lower levels of oxytocin in their blood, as did the small group of fibromyalgia patients who had a lot of pain, stress and depression.

The researchers concluded: "... oxytocin may, together with other neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, play a role in the integration of the stress axes, monoaminergic systems and the pain processing peptides in the pathophysiologic mechanisms responsible for the symptoms in the [fibromyalgia syndrome].

Alternative treatment of fibromyalgia using the oxytocin-hormonal-nutrient protocol to increase nitric oxide.(Clinical report)

Jorge Flechas is an MD who uses oxytocin to treat fibromyalgia. He has not published in peer-reviewed journals, but he did write this paper. (You will need to register for a free trial to read the whole thing.)

 Low-Dose Oxytocin Stops Burning Pain in Fibromyalgia

I have no idea where this came from, and it's only one person. But the paper says, "A two-week intranasal treatment with low-dose oxytocin proved effective in resolving the burning pain, but also resulted in a general improvement, including of hydration."

From Fatigued to Fantastic is a hypish-sounding book by Jacob Teitelbaum. In it, he says that one injection of 10 IU (1 cc) into a muscle may decrease pain in 30 to 60 minutes, although it doesn't always work.

It might be worth a shot.