The researchers chose an ‘attractive woman’ from their group to be in the experiment (I wonder how they did this; ‘put your hand up if you think Janet is the fittest here?!’). They administered the neuropeptide oxytocin, which is associated with bonding, to a group of men and then assessed how physically close the men stood to ‘Janet’ when interacting with her. They found that when given oxytocin, the men in monogamous relationships stayed 10-15cm further away from the woman than the single men did. They also found that the men in relationships were less interested in photos of attractive women after an oxytocin dose, whereas the single men were not affected in this way.
They concluded that oxytocin has a role in preventing cheating, as it prevented close approach behaviour, which would otherwise signal romantic interest.
Another study found that couples who each had higher oxytocin levels; communicated better than others, and their physical wounds healed quicker! (The researchers actually gave them blisters to test this. Gnarly.)
GIVE ME THAT BOTTLE OF OXYTOCIN
Oxytocin is often called the ‘cuddle chemical’ which is frankly, sickening, but also somewhat accurate; as physical touch increases your oxytocin levels.
A study of an Amazonian tribe found that when the men returned to their families after a day of hunting, their oxytocin and testosterone rose, which suggests their body was getting them ready to bond, and bang. The longer the men had been away, the higher their oxytocin levels when they returned.
None of this is particularly reassuring for long distance relationships; if oxytocin is important for maintaining fidelity, but is stimulated by being physically close to your partner, what are going to do?!
Oxytocin nasal spray is being tested to treat a range of conditions, so if you get your hands on some and you see your bae getting too close to other people; you could go and jab some of that up their nose. Be careful though as the spray has also been found to increase negative perceptions of people.
You win some you lose some.