Love and relationships take work. We look at how the possible benefits of microdosing translate to romance.
This past spring, Olivia and her boyfriend, JP – self-described sybarites living in Santa Cruz, California – added a new step to their morning routine. What used to be a pretty standard ritual (a cacophony of alarms followed by coffee and Olivia always forgetting her keys) now has some psychedelic flair. After absorbing the praises of microdosing from celebrities, Silicon Valley tech giants, and mothers, the couple became curious if microdosing psilocybin could help their relationship. After only a few days, they noticed they were more relaxed about minor irritations and could be more honest with each other. But was it merely a placebo? Can psychedelics really improve your relationship?
Learn to microdose with our free guide.
Let’s be honest: it can be hard to fall in love and even harder to stay in love. Love takes time, patience, trust, a sense of humor, and, sometimes, a little psychedelic nudge. We all wear the wounds of past loves, and the more heartbreaks we endure, the more walls we erect. But psychedelic medicines LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca journeys have quite the reputation for breaking down barriers. That’s why humans have been using these plant medicines for centuries to connect to ourselves, each other, and the universe.
A psychedelic journey can offer many benefits: helping you stay present, work through past trauma, rediscover your joy, and more. When done safely, a trip can help you take on those nasty self-critical voices in your head and help draw your attention back to what truly matters.
Many psychonauts and psychoanalysts alike say that tripping can be like packing years of therapy into six hours, with a 2021 study suggesting people who share psychedelic experiences together feeling deeply connected even weeks after the experience.During a trip, you may gain insight into past traumas, your outlook on the world, and what you want your life to be. So, it tracks that a psychedelic journey could help you approach your relationship with renewed empathy, understanding, and appreciation.
There’s no shortage of stories on the internet about couples who take heroic doses of psychedelics to improve their relationship dynamic. Others, like Olivia and JP (though they also enjoy a full-on trip now and again), believe that microdosing can do the same while allowing them to go about their work day without, you know, hallucinating.
And they’re not alone.
Novelist Ayelet Waldman confessed to the New York Times that had she not adopted the practice of microdosing she “would’ve blown up [her] marriage.” If you do a quick search on Reddit, you will find plenty of microdosers discussing how small amounts of psychedelics gifted big improvements in their sex lives and helped their relationships overall. But why does it work?
As with many emerging wellness practices (and relationships): it’s complicated. With so many bogus trends (we’re looking at you, anal sunning) taking attention away from science-backed trends, it’s hard to cut through the muck and know what’s legit and what’s bullsh*t. And, don’t get us started on greenwashing! When it comes to the science of whether or not psychedelics can enhance our relationships, experts say it’s possible, but we need more rigorous research to confirm.
Allow us a quick biochemistry crash course: psychedelics can act on the 5HT2A receptor located throughout the brain and the spinal cord. A full dose of psilocybin (100 to 200 milligrams) will most likely make you trip and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. Microdosing, however, is only 10 to 20 micrograms, taken every other day or even less frequently.
We know with certainty that high doses of psychedelics have wonderful therapeutic benefits. Studies suggest they can increase empathy, openness, mood, and life satisfaction – which all fold very well into a fulfilling romantic relationship. “It’s like that cliche,” Olivia says, “only when you’re happy with yourself can you be happy with a partner.”
She describes microdosing as a very personal journey that bled out into her shared life with JP. “I was becoming more self-aware of my issues and why I react in certain ways to his behavior. We both felt we were the most honest with each other during our microdosing era.”
However, the benefits experienced with standard doses of psychedelics may not translate as cleanly to microdosing. While research suggests that microdosing may lead to a positive mood, increased presence, and enhanced well-being, the findings do not come from controlled trials that assign one-half of participants a microdose and the other half a placebo. Current knowledge on microdosing comes mostly from anecdotal reports and surveys of microdosers.
It’s possible that expecting microdosing to improve their relationship could have influenced Olivia and JP’s positive experience. But that doesn’t mean that every couple who reports the benefits of microdosing isn’t experiencing them. Though many scientists suspect that a placebo effect could be in play, microdosing very well could provide the mood-enhancing benefits, so many enthusiasts report. We just need a little more science to be sure.
For Olivia and JP, however, experience is the only science that matters. They believe that even if they were to stop microdosing, the relationship would still be changed for the better. For example, the newfound self-awareness Olivia enjoys from microdosing has influenced her to pick up healthy habits like yoga that make her more grounded and patient with JP.
If you decide to microdose with a partner, weigh the risks and benefits. Do your research and ask yourself why you’re microdosing. Is microdosing putting a bandaid where a stitch should be? Are you trying to “save” the relationship? Do you simply want to know yourself and, in turn, each other in a more authentic manner? While only you can answer the latter inquiry, Retreat can help with some of the finer details, like dosing, timing, preparation, and integration for your microdosing journey.
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Learn to microdose with our free guide.
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