Hormonal fluctuations arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always a bad thing. Oxytocin, also known as the love or cuddle hormone, actually makes partnered men put physical distance between themselves and attractive women, according to a study recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers asked 57 men (both single and in relationships) to sniff a nasal spray that either contained the hormone oxytocin, or a placebo. Then they instructed the guys to physically approach an attractive woman and stop at a comfortable distance away. The men in monogamous relationships who had been exposed to oxytocin ended up standing farther away from the women than monogamous men exposed to the placebo. The hormone didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t change single guysÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ behavior much at all.
The results suggest that relationship status could crucially influence the social effects of oxytocin, says Dirk Scheele, M.S., study author and researcher at the department of psychiatry at the University of Bonn in Germany. Turns out oxytocin can make a man feel closer to his partner and enhance his attachment to her, even when sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not physically present. While itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not entirely clear how oxytocin works, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible that the hormone interacts with other brain chemicals such as dopamine to make love a more rewarding and addictive experience, says Scheele.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course there is no guarantee [it will induce] fidelity, but increased oxytocin levels may keep men from approaching an attractive stranger in the first place,Ã¢â‚¬Â Scheele says.
Luckily, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take a whiff of hormone-laced nasal spray to increase your partnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s oxytocin levels. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s naturally occurringÃ¢â‚¬”hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how:
Text him at lunch. Simply thinking about you can release oxytocin, even in the absence of physical contact, according to a review of oxytocin studies published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. While youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both at work, text him about the sexy dream or fantasy youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had, or (to keep it more PG) that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re psyched to see him later.
Give him a (gentle) rubdown. When researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles gave healthy adults either a 45-minute deep-tissue Swedish massage or a light massage of the same length, participants given the lighter massage experienced a higher boost of oxytocin than those who got the deep-digging treatment. Your touch should be more than a tickle but less intense than a workout. Because everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perception of pressure differs, and his back may tolerate more pressure than his other parts, start light and tell him to pipe up if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like you to use more muscle.
Be the big spoon. Intimate contact can boost oxytocin levels, but some guys claim not to be cuddly sleepers. If his excuse is midnight sweats, let him sleep on his stomach and sling an arm around his waist. Back pain? Spooning can help him ease pressure on the spine.
Start your day with sex. "Having sex in the morning releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin, which makes couples feel loving and bonded all day long," says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., author of Because It Feels Good.
Additional reporting by Elise Nersesian.Ã‚Â
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