A recent article in Scientific American includes some interesting research on oxytocin, commonly known as the "love hormone." The report suggests that oxytocin affects men differently depending on whether they are in a committed relationship or not. So, although this hormone has previously been touted as the factor in attracting and keeping a partner's interest, the picture seems to be more complicated. In fact, oxytocin given to men in a committed relationship led to them keeping a distance from an attractive stranger.
There are many factors at play. Scientists know that three hormones seem to be related to male monogamy and oxytocin is just one of them. The other two — testosterone and vasopressin — probably play an even more important role in the attractive stranger scenario.
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Testosterone is a big factor! Testosterone is related to men seeking attractive, available sex partners. However, in long term relationships testosterone levels typically decrease. Since testosterone and oxytocin compete for space, lower testosterone allows for more oxytocin, and higher oxytocin means less testosterone. As a result, committed men show much less testosterone fueled seeking behavior. Again the picture is a little more complicated because men receive a testosterone boost when they win or achieve something. So, for example, the CEO with the big deal, the athlete after a win, the reporter who got the story and the actor who lands the part all receive that boost. In a relationship with a high testosterone male, it probably makes sense to keep that oxytocin high. (Email me here if you want to find out how to do that.) Of course, we have a thinking brain — not just hormones — so there is always a choice. That choice may create a bigger inner conflict for some men. Keep reading....
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