Learn Why They Call OXTR The Love Gene

Written by Eliana Ferdman, Mechanical Engineering | Last updated:

Most people realize that their genes can influence their eye color, heart health, or predisposition for some diseases…but how about your ability to have a successful relationship?

It turns out, you can even get dating advice from your genes!

We’ve known for decades that oxytocin, sometimes called the love hormone, is vital for social bonding and empathy. That may be why the oxytocin receptor gene, OXTR, is among the best-studied genes in the human genome.

OXTR rs53576 is the best-studied SNP in this gene, but many more are likely to influence the efficiency of your oxytocin receptors.

Recently, I compared mine and Joe’s rs53576 SNP and some interesting information came to light. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a natural at resolving conflicts, but I never expected for my genes to back that up!

Joe’s Results:

Eliana’s Results:

Each copy of the ‘G’ allele at rs53576 is linked to more dispositional forgiveness; in other words, if a person with this allele is hurt or hurts another person, they are more likely to make amends. They are more likely to forgive and to be forgiven, which helps them build stronger relationships after conflict.

Joe’s results suggest that he is more sensitive to the effects of oxytocin which encourages him to resolve conflicts and respond constructively to disagreements.

My results, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. I have some of the positives of the G allele like more empathy and trust, but I also possess some of the negative effects of having the A allele – making conflict resolution much harder.

Back when I had my mood issues I used to hold the biggest grudges and resort to silent treatment at any sign of conflict. It was extremely hard for me to say sorry if I did something wrong and it was also difficult for me to forgive Joe if he did something that made me angry.

Joe didn’t really have this issue, he would forgive easily and apologize when he did something wrong. If even one partner in a pair has the ‘GG’ genotype at OXTR rs53576, the relationship is more likely to last through conflict.

Joe’s ability to communicate and resolve our conflict really got us through those early rough patches.

What Can You Do About Your Genes?

You might think that if it’s in my genes, there’s nothing I could do about it, right?

Fortunately, I did NOT take that approach and decided to implement some changes to counteract my bad genes because Joe could have had all the oxytocin in the world and it wouldn’t have saved our relationship.

Now that I’ve fixed my mood by taking the supplements suggested in my Mood DNA Wellness Report and fixed my hormone levels, I’m way more resilient to stress and Joe and I rarely get into arguments. I also forgive very easily now (probably too easily :P).

I still hate admitting when I’m wrong, but I’m not sure there’s any fixing that.

What’s interesting is that Estrogen has been found to increase the secretion of oxytocin and increase the expression of the oxytocin receptor in the brain. When I was fixing my mood issues, I checked my labs and noticed that I had very low estrogen.

So, not only were my genes showing me that I was at a higher risk for lower oxytocin levels, my estrogen levels were proof of lower oxytocin.

The important thing to take-away is that you are not doomed just because you have a certain genotype. You can still take action to counteract any negative effects you find, and knowing your genetic predispositions is the first step.

The SelfDecode Personalized Genetics Blog actually has an entire category on relationships where you can see your own genotype for the OXTR gene, along with others, and get recommendations for your specific genes once you’re signed in with a SelfDecode account.

About the Author

Eliana Ferdman

Eliana Ferdman

Mechanical Engineering
Eliana studied Mechanical Engineering at Concordia University.
Eliana is very passionate about creating software that allows people to take their health into their own hands. Her goal is to make sure that all health software created by Genius Labs is user friendly and valuable. She believes that everyone should be able to dive into their labs and genetics and gain instant tips on how to become optimally healthy. Eliana works directly with our software developers, scientists, marketers and designers to achieve this goal.


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