Setting limits for the ‘Tend and Befriend’ response | TheUnion.com
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Setting limits for the ‘Tend and Befriend’ response

When the going gets tough, women typically respond with “tend and befriend” behavior, according to UCLA psychologist Shelley Taylor, author of “The Tending Instinct.” The reasons are chemical. Tending releases oxytocin, a hormone that makes women feel peaceful, calm and centered.

The danger is in going overboard, causing the woman to neglect her own needs, especially needs for exercise and nutrition. For example, when choosing between taking an elderly parent shopping or going for a badly needed walk, women typically choose the care-taker task.

Dr. Taylor’s advice on how to manage one’s compassionate nature is threefold.



• 1) Let competent people care for themselves. Don’t be a slave to your family.

• 2) Make compassion a family affair. Helping others is good for a family – not just mom.




• 3) Find time for close friends and make sure those friends tell you when you are overdoing.

Source: Shelley Taylor, Psychologist, UCLA; Prevention Magazine, September ’04, Joan Borynseko, Ph.d., “Staying Centered”


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