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June 14, 2024

Pride Week celebrates love in its many forms, transcending boundaries and highlighting the universal bonds that connect us. One fascinating aspect of love is its biochemical foundation, particularly the role of oxytocin—the “love Hormone” that creates all human (and all mammalian) relationships.

Oxytocin, often dubbed the “cuddle hormone,” is a peptide hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It plays a crucial role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, and during and after childbirth. Oxytocin acts as a natural facilitator of human connection, enhancing trust, empathy, and emotional intimacy between individuals.

During Pride Week, understanding the science behind love underscores the commonalities we share. Oxytocin’s effects are universal, affecting everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This hormone’s influence begins at birth and during childhood. The surge of oxytocin during child rearing and caregiving promotes parental behaviors and strengthens the emotional tie, laying the foundation for the child’s future social interactions.

In romantic relationships, oxytocin is pivotal. It is released during moments of physical intimacy, such as hugging, kissing, and sexual activity. This release fosters a sense of closeness and attachment, which is crucial for maintaining long-term partnerships. Oxytocin reduces stress and promotes feelings of contentment and security, which are essential for sustaining healthy and loving relationships.

Pride Week also brings to light the diverse ways in which love manifests. Oxytocin doesn’t just facilitate romantic and familial bonds; it also enhances friendships and community connections. Group activities shared meals, and collective celebrations all trigger oxytocin release, reinforcing the importance of social cohesion and mutual support. In the context of Pride, these activities help forge a sense of belonging and solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community.

Moreover, oxytocin has a role in overcoming prejudice and fostering acceptance and empathy. Research indicates that oxytocin can promote pro-social behaviors and reduce fear responses, potentially lowering biases and encouraging inclusivity. By enhancing our ability to empathize and connect with others, oxytocin supports the core values of Pride Week: love, acceptance, and equality.

As we celebrate Pride Week, it is heartening to recognize that the biochemical basis of love and connection knows no bounds. Oxytocin reminds us that at our core, we are all wired for love, empathy, and connection, reinforcing the beautiful diversity and unity of the human experience.


This article was written by Dr Liat Yakir, author of A Brief History of Love which is available now at all good book retailers.

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