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Fidelity in a bottle

Oxytocin, the magical hormone, strikes again. This naturally occurring “love hormone” is the one secreted by the body to form the bond between a mother and her child after birth and it’s known to play a part in pair bonding as well.

Fidelity in a bottle Loyal through Oxytocin?

It’s already been shown to be great for increasing open communications between couples, when a nasal spray containing it was used just before the partners were given the task of discussing difficult relationship issues. And as if helping couples increase mutual trust and work together to solve relationship problems wasn’t enough, it would seem the spray can also make men loyal to their partners in the face of potential temptation. A new study hailing from Bonn University involved 57 men who were each treated with a nasal spray containing either oxytocin or a placebo. The men were then approached by an attractive female researcher and told to decide when the woman had reached the “ideal distance” from them. The experiment was followed by a similar one, only this time it was the men who were told to approach the woman and stand at the ideal distance from her.

The researchers thought the hormone would make the men more open and trusting towards those around them, which would result in them wanting to be physically closer to the female researcher. Instead, while single men didn’t display any difference in behaviour when given the hormone, those in committed relationships preferred to stay further away from the attractive researcher. Rather than make them more open to a different woman’s advances, it merely strengthened the attachment they felt for their existing partner. There may not be a pill to cure relationship troubles, but maybe one day there will be a nasal spray?

by Shimrit Elisar

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