hugWhile I typically share information about how estrogen, testosterone and progesterone in the female and male hormone cycles affect behavior, health and the many other facets of our lives, there are a few other key hormones that impact us in fascinating–sometimes, amusing–ways, too. One of them is oxytocin–a hormone that promotes bonding and fosters feelings of trust.

The level of this hormone naturally rises in other people when you give them  a hug, a gentle pat or or hold their hand.

And that’s key information to know if you ever want a guy in your life (say, your dad, boyfriend, brother or pal) to become a better listener or empathize more with you. 

That’s because in a 2010 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, men who were given a spritz of oxytocin with a nasal spray experienced a surge in empathy and a sharpened ability to pick up on facial cues that rivaled that of most women. 

What this means for you: The next time you want to have a heart-to-heart with a man, share your feelings or get loving support, first give him a hug, clasp his hand or pat him gently. This will prompt his brain to create more of its own oxytocin, which will then make him a better listener and more empathetic.

If (I’m betting when) you try this, let me know how it worked for you!

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