What kind of power can keep a man - and indeed a woman - in a long-term monogamous relationship when there are so many temptations around? Researchers suggest that a hormone called oxytocin plays a key role in this regard. It is produced naturally in the body and has long been associated by scientists with feelings of love and trust.
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and plays an important role in processes such as initiating labor and stimulating breastfeeding. It is also known to help strengthen bonds between parents and children, as well as between sexual partners. Interestingly, oxytocin is produced in response to attachment not only to humans, but also to pets. For example, a person's oxytocin level rises when he sees a pet dog.
It is this hormone that is responsible for the subjective feeling that this or that person seems to us "close" and "dear". Increasing oxytocin levels in the body can help reduce anxiety, promote feelings of contentment, serenity, and of course, trust.
In one study, researchers suggested that subjects use a nasal spray that contained oxytocin or a placebo. The scientific research involved 86 heterosexual men, whose average age was about 25 years.
For those men who were in serious relationships, oxytocin acted as a limiter. Compared to those given the placebo, they tried to keep their distance from the attractive female researcher unknown to them.
Oxytocin had no effect on single men. Also, the hormone did not affect the distance that the participants maintained among themselves.
“This hormone helps maintain trust in people. We expected that men, under the influence of the hormone, would allow the female experimenter to come closer to them; however, the opposite thing happened,”says study leader Rene Hellermann.
“Thus, we can judge that oxytocin allows men to remain faithful to their partners. Previous studies in steppe voles have shown that oxytocin is one of the main keys to monogamy in animals. Our current research provides evidence that this hormone can play a similar role in humans."