The fidelity hormone found? Some thoughts about the future of relationships

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The big news this week is that oxytocin, the bonding/attachment hormone can make men more faithful to their partners. A while back, some researchers put some of this hormone into a spray and tested it on couples in committed relationships to see how it affected the quality of their communications. They found that couples dosed with the hormone were able to discuss difficult topics to do with their relationship with more ease and mutual trust. It basically took out that whole mutual mistrust and accusatory tone issue that taints most difficult emotional discussions, as the couples were flying high on the love hormone, thus acting from a place of love. I mused then about the possible commercial implications of something like that. Some people might see it as the fast, cost effective alternative to relationship counselling and who doesn’t like a quick fix you can just spray up your nose, right? I see the need for some sort of marketing campaign to convince people to have awkward relationship conversations (with or without the magic spray). After all, a less wholesome “love drug”, MDMA, was supposedly originally touted by dealers under the cuddly name “Empathy”, but it didn’t become a hit with the clubbers till it rebranded as “Ecstasy”. So if someone were to market oxytocin spray based on that particular research, they’d probably get better results by talking about the effects of oxytocin on mutual orgasms, or something. But now, this new research has gone and told everyone that a dose of oxytocin can actually make men in committed relationships stay faithful in the face of sexy women. I doubt there is any interest at the moment at marketing oxytocin spray to the masses, but can you imagine? It would be to bad relationships what Ritalin is to boring tasks. And it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in the future people just didn’t care. After all, if a man (and probably a woman, too. After all, this research hasn’t been conducted on women yet) is feeling the urge to stay and the prospect of relationship problem-solving or a break up seems daunting or impossible, what could be easier than just spraying something up your nose a few times a day to keep things together? Gone would be the days where people stopped to think about the reasons behind their dissatisfaction, of wondering whether there is a reason why they keep feeling the need to move on. Just like the case of Ritalin, there are undoubtedly people out there who are prone to straying even when they’re in a happy relationship with a person they truly love. But I can very much see a future where a one size fits all solution would mean people stop trusting themselves and thinking about their own motives and needs and just spray themselves into fidelity. Can’t you?

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