This is Your Brain on Friendship
At Bumble, we believe connection and relationships are the among the most important things to our health and happiness. What role does neurochemistry play in choosing our platonic soulmates? Natalie Geld, amazing neuroscientist and all-around badass, explains below.
“Having a supportive social network – i.e. a lot of friends – can help you live longer with less anxiety and fewer health problems.
When humans get lonely, a genetic cascade of changes happen in your body. Loneliness increases inflammation and turbocharges your fight-or-flight stress response, which stresses you out. Your immune system starts getting weaker.
You subconsciously respond to this chemical change by isolating yourself from other people, which can lead to depression, which can mean you get stuck in a biological feedback loop. Ugh.
The opposite of loneliness – connection – involves emotion, thought, empathy, intuition, our senses, and reason. When you really connect with someone, either romantically or platonically, you develop healthy brain cells and strengthen positive neural pathways in your brain.
Healthy friendships improve your emotional intelligence. A powerful cocktail of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin (all your feel-good hormones) elevate your mood and optimize your hormonal response to stress.
Certain people inherently trigger these positive chemical reactions: Your friends!
Humans like to feel happy. It’s behind pretty much everything we do.
Certain people in your social circles ‘get you’. You share an understanding of life and one another. When you experience this emotional connection, oxytocin – the trust and love hormone – is released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin triggers a fountain of serotonin and dopamine. (Those feel-good hormones again!)
You feel more generous and cooperative as your brain’s reward circuitry reinforces the awesomeness of this friendship. Just thinking of this friend will be chemical magic! One good friend can transform your attitudes, beliefs, and behavior throughout all parts of your life.
When you laugh your ass off with someone, neurochemicals called endorphins are released. These chemicals clear your cell memory and open a natural flow of information chemicals. Suddenly, you feel super happy! You have more bandwidth to learn, grow, and face reality when you get regular hits of these neurochemicals.
That’s right: Friendship is the best stress-free, danger-free drug. Making connections with like-minded people who share your dirty sense of humor and obsession with Nutella can make a huge difference in your mental and physical health.
Sound good to you? If you feel like you could use more mood-boosting, empowering friendships in your life, the best bees for your Hive are on Bumble BFF!
By Natalie Geld