Charlotte Hannah
November 15, 2012

‘Love Hormone’ May Keep Monogamous Men from Straying

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Can oxytocin keep guys from cheating? Apparently, it can.

For many years, we’ve known about oxytocin’s role in pair-bonding. The hormone is released after sex and during the early stages of courtship, as well as during childbirth and breastfeeding.

But new research, published in The Journal of Neuroscience on November 14, suggests oxytocin may also play a role in helping men maintain monogamous relationships.

An experiment was conducted in which a group of 86 straight men, some single and some in relationships, were randomly chosen to receive either a dose of oxytocin or a placebo. Afterward, an attractive female researcher entered the room, and the men were instructed to tell her how close to them she could stand before they began to feel uncomfortable.

According CBS News, all of the men in the experiment rated the woman as “attractive” – but the committed, oxytocin-dosed men chose to keep their distance anyway.

While single dudes and the attached men who received the placebo established their “personal bubble” about 20 to 24 inches away from the woman, committed men who received the oxytocin created a wider berth by having the woman stand 28 to 30 inches away from them.

When the experiment was repeated with a male researcher in place of the female one, the oxytocin didn’t appear to have the same effect. There wasn’t a significant difference between the personal bubbles created by the single men and those in committed relationships.

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When asked by the LA Times if an oxytocin nasal spray might be useful as a sort of “fidelity aid,” Dr. Rene Hurlemann (who led the study) seemed skeptical that such a thing by itself would be enough to keep men from straying. He did, however, explain that the nasal spray’s pair-bonding effects can be achieved by, uh, “other means.”

“It might make a lot of sense to remind him of the relationship, and sexual activity might be one means of achieving this,” Dr. Hurlemann told the LA Times. “I’m not sure it’s politically correct to say so, but from a biological point of view, it makes sense.”

So there you have it, monogamous ladies. Sex up your boyfriends… for science.

Oh, and find a guy who respects the boundaries of your relationship and conducts himself according to his morals rather than his hormones. That’s also pretty important.