kiss3I opened an email today from Kristen, a Hormonology newsletter subscriber, who asks:

“How do hormone cycles affect romantic relationships?”

I’m sure a lot of you have pondered this same question–wondering why you feel super-attached to your partner one day, then the next day you wonder what you ever saw in that person.

Well, just like your cycle affects most other things in your life, the ups and downs of your hormones have a powerful effect on how you feel about your sweetheart.

Of course, there are many other factors that go into how you view your relationship–such as how new or old it is, how many bumps in the road you two have endured and how many times your partner has put the empty milk carton back in the fridge despite your many, many pleas to simply throw it out.

However, with all things being equal, here’s generally how your hormones will have feeling about your relationship from week to week in your cycle:

Week 1: Warming up
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
If you’re crampy and/or tired during your period, you may be more easily irritated with your partner–simply because these period-related woes are putting you in a grumpy mood.

However, if cramps are few and far between and you’re not being knocked on your keister by fatigue, then rising estrogen is making you want to get closer to your cuddlebear and do fun activities together, such as see a movie, go on a hike or simply lounge around and share sections of the newspaper.

The reason? As estrogen rises, it revs your desire for romance and pushes you to connect with your current squeeze. Plus, the higher the level of this hormone climbs, the more it makes you outgoing, energetic, chatty and adventurous. Together, this has you looking toward your honey to as a partner to explore the world with.

Week 2: Hot passion
Day 8 to ovulation (whic is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
If you’re in a new relationship, rising estrogen and testosterone are going to be ratcheting up your romantic feelings about a thousand notches. You won’t be able to keep your hands off your honey.

For everyone else, well, it gets a bit complicated:

Research shows that if your mate is known more for having a great personality than good looks, then chances are you’re going to be tempted to flirt with some serious hotties. That’s just the way high estrogen works: When this hormone peaks, it wants to pair you up with folks who are physically attractive because, as researchers believe, it’s a sign that they’re healthy and good genetic donors in case you want to get pregnant during ovulation at the end of this week.

If you’re still very much attracted to your mate, then chances are, you may glance at other cuties (no guilt, it’s only natural!), but your heart will stay with your current squeeze.

Generally speaking for all relationship statuses (long, short, somewhere in-between), during your Week 2, your honey will get a free pass for most of the stupid things she or he is known to do, from forgetting to pick up bread on the way home to totally blanking on your anniversary.

Significant others can thank high estrogen for the extra patience and forgiveness you have this week. The higher the level of this hormone climbs, the more feel-good brain chemicals it helps churn out, making you upbeat and optimistic–so even their biggest blunders are less irksome.

On top of that, thanks to high estrogen and testosterone during this week of your cycle, you’ll feel a surge of passion that makes you want to drag your darling back to bed every chance you get.

Week 3: More hugs than hot
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Your libido cools off during this week of your cycle due to a combination of rising progesterone and dropping testosterone. However, research shows you actually feel more emotionally attached to your mate during this phase.

Scientists theorize this extra dose of affection is because a rise in progesterone makes your body think you could be pregnant–so you subconsciously sidle up closer to your sweetums in case you need extra care and support during a pregnancy.

As a result, your love-muffin can look forward to more hugs, hand-holding and special treats during this week of your cycle.

Unless…you get hungry.

If you go a long time between meals or forget to eat a meal and your stomach starts to growl, you could get extra-snappish at your mate during this week in your cycle. That’s because progesterone makes you more sensitive to drops in blood sugar, unleashing the kind of hunger crankies that can make significant others wonder when they hooked up with Godzilla.

When this happens, simply let your partner know you need to eat–and quick!–and just a few minutes after noshing when your blood sugar normalizes, you’ll be all squeezy-wheezie with your mate again.

Week 4: Uh-oh
Final 6 days of your cycle
Remember that free pass your honey got in your Week 2 that helped you forgive-and-forget even the gravest trespasses?

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen this week.

During your premenstrual Week 4, a plunge in estrogen can turn you into a stick of dynamite–and anything wrong your partner says or does can be the flame that lights the fuse that makes you go “Boom!”.

The problem is that when your estrogen level descends, it prompts changes in the brain make you a lot less patient, more critical and far more easily irritated–a combination that can have your partner needing to walk on eggshells around you.

Now all this said, this doesn’t mean you’ll be tearing your sugarpie’s head off every second of every day in your premenstrual week. Some of you may notice you just get a bit irked every now and then–while others may start wondering why you were ever with this lunkhead in the first place. It really depends on your sensitivity to plunging hormones.

Want to have a more harmonious relationship during your premenstrual phase?

Then like I advised in your Week 3, don’t go hungry. Your body’s level of progesterone plunges in this week of your cycle, however, there’s still enough to trigger the hunger crankies when you don’t eat.

Also, try to get more sleep. I know this one is difficult since a dip in estrogen can trigger insomnia and lighter sleep, but if you can sip chamomile tea, meditate or do yoga before turning in–or do anything else that helps you sleep–it’ll help boost your mood and lessen irritability the next day, which makes you happier with your honey.

I hope this sheds some light on how the ups and downs of your hormones impact your relationship!

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[Photo: Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac]