The Half Hormonal, Half Personal Project

Dec 19 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew

The world is home to many strange things. One of these is what lies behind the feeling most of us refer to as "love" – the hormone oxytocin. During physical interactions, its levels rise up. Women having higher levels of oxytocin than men, it is usually released during birth, lactation or sexual intercourse.

Research indicates nasal spray of oxytocin or intranasal oxytocin can be used to enhance bonding and social interactions. But consider the implication of this with further development of drugs - the potential to resuscitate love, bring back the raging flame and longing couples usually experience at the beginning of their relationships.

That flame dies at some point in marriage or a relationship. The possibility of keeping the flame alive for longer would be music to many people's ears. If only it were that easy, many would stand in line to get it. It is easier to sniff some substance and see if it reverts the magic than to try and fix a relationship. The latter requires patience, hard work, and there is always a chance it might not work.

A close friend of mine and her boyfriend of eight years could have used such a drug. Surprisingly, neither were bitter about the breakup. I was, since I used to look up to them. But she told me the love was long gone, and there was nothing else left. The boyfriend was of the same mind.

"There was no excitement in the relationship anymore,” he said. “Nothing to look forward to. We both knew everything there is to know about each other, and that made us predictable, boring."

I told him that I was sorry to hear that it was over between them.

“Nothing lasts forever, right?" he said.

He is right. I know lots of couples who break up after staying together for eight to 10 years. Just when I think they are tying the knot, they call it quits. I often wonder what the reason is.

Is it because they already feel like they are married and take each other for granted that they stop working on their relationship?

The emotion couples feel for each other is a complicated one. It is arguably conditional. We do not even love ourselves unconditionally let alone others without condition. Sure the conditions might not always be superficial but are highly dependent on the action of the loved ones.

For instance, a person that has a level of economic independence would not likely continue to live with an abusive partner. It might take them some time to realise what is happening and figure out how to get out of the situation. But in the end, they would do the right thing. Not doing this ultimately points to a certain emotional condition or an economic constraint.

I am sure that some would disagree. They may see the whole project of a relationship as an exercise in acceptance. Others would argue that it is an act of caring and affection. Still, others would argue that it is an uncontrollable desire to want that person, though this may border on obsession. However we look at it, it is not something that lasts forever. A whole range of social, financial and personal circumstances conspire to keep it alive; the most important is perhaps the latter.

Relationships are like plants. They have to be nurtured to grow. But the minute we stop working on our relationship, striving to build trust and companionship with our partner, the union is in trouble. There are no drugs able to reverse this, at least not yet.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 19,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1077]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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