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Can cheating be stopped by smelling a hormone?

By now, we've all heard the salacious details of the womanizing CIA director and his biographer (author of a book called All In, no less): It's a tale of scandal and deceit, sure. But the tale of a devoted man with a wandering eye is all too common.

What if the whole thing could have been avoided with a little whiff?

If new research is to be believed, David Petraeus could have benefited from smelling a "monogamy hormone." Apparently it keeps committed men away from those pesky temptresses.

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A study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience found that when men in committed relationships were given a dose of oxytocin, they stayed farther away physically from an attractive woman on a first meeting, 10 to 15 cms farther, to be exact.

Nicknamed "the cuddle drug," oxytocin is the same hormone that is released in women during an orgasm and in the early stages of a blossoming relationship, according to Medical Daily.

Aside from the enjoyment of envisioning this study taking place - imagine being the researcher tasked with measuring the physical distance between a man and an attractive woman (awkward!) - the abstract of the study is worth a read for its understandably scientific, yet hilarious, robot language: "In humans, interpersonal romantic attraction and the subsequent development of monogamous pair-bonds is substantially predicted by influential impressions formed during first encounters."

Aw, such romance.

Women physically feel a rush of oxytocin after sex and after childbirth. It's what gives us that lovey dovey feeling toward another person. Men lack this this hormonal release after sex, but that's where the drug comes in.

"What we actually simulate is a kind of post-coital posture" Dr. Rene Hurlemann, who led the study. told the Los Angeles Times. "And why should you actually approach another women when you're in a post-coital situation? It doesn't make much sense."

What do you think - would couples everywhere benefit from a little whiff of monogamy?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More


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