Playing for keeps

Given what we know about testosterone, dating someone with high levels must feel a bit like a double edged sword.

A great physique, plenty of energy, confidence and a strong sex drive may ensure it’ll never be dull. But a reputation for risk taking and lower empathy might keep you wondering if they feel like they’ve got enough of that good stuff to go round.

Certainly past studies do suggest that guys with lower T tend to favor faithful, long term relationships. Does that automatically mean that guys with higher levels will always treat their love life like one big speed date, and have no interest in making relationships last though?

Not according to a new study. On the contrary, it suggests the competitive edge it gives, guys with plenty of T are often more invested in maintaining relationships. After all, as any sportsperson well tell you, it’s not just about winning, it’s about defending your prize too.

For better or worse then, testosterone may in fact make men attentive partners.

My girl

Author Steven Arnocky, of Nipissing University, Canada, saw a gap in the market when it came to exploring how T affects relationships,

“Very little research has examined whether testosterone relates to other forms of mating-relevant competition, such as effort aimed at retaining a mating partner.”

To examine this he got 108 male undergraduates to provide saliva samples and fill out a survey about mate retention and intrasexual competition.

Basically how they keep their partner interested and guard against some silver tongued smoothy charming them away.

Responses were classed in two categories; benefit provisioning or cost inflicting.

Benefit provisioning means doing nice things for your other half, flowers, chocolates etc. Cost inflicting on the other hand means uglier possessive behavior, for example bullying, isolating and invading privacy.

Results showed a ‘modest relationship’ between T levels and willingness to hold on to your spouse. Generally it was able to predict how competitive guys were in trying to fend of members of the same sex who might be looking to swoop in. The higher the male hormone, the more protective men were.

Can’t take my eyes off of you

The good news is some with higher levels used benefit provisioning tactics to hold on to their significant other. Presumably using their greater impulsiveness to book surprise holidays. Or their extra strength and stamina to row a gondola for miles or something.

The bad news? That relationship seems to be strongest for cost inflicting, rather than benefit provisioning, acts of mate retention.

Yup. Unfortunately, in this study more of the super vigilant volunteers chose to scare off potential rivals. The also tended to check up on their mate more, monopolize all their time, even stop them going out. Yikes.

So does that mean that raising our T will turn us into clingy weirdos? Doubtful. Remember no direct link was found as Arnocky himself points out.

“Our study was correlational in its design, and so one cannot make any causal assumptions about whether testosterone influences levels of intrasexual competitiveness or mate retention.”

The truth is, unless you’re taking huge amounts, way over your body’s natural limit, T won’t negatively affect behavior.

Contrary to popular belief, there’s little or no evidence that testosterone causes aggression or violence. More accurately it enables those emotions. Meaning if it’s your nature to react that way then high T makes it more likely you will.

If you’re not a nasty piece of work in your relationship however, you shouldn’t worry about suddenly becoming one.

Swee-T pie

Look maybe we’re biased but it seems to us that stimulating higher levels of natural T could have a lot of upsides in relationships. Surely the better you look, feel and perform, the less worried you have to be about competition and the less interested she’ll be in it.

On the off chance you are feeling a little edgy about interest in your other half, we would definitely suggest the Paris trip approach over the Stockholm syndrome approach. It’s healthier to look at your loved one with an adoring gaze than a series of hidden CCTV cameras.

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