I think it’s safe to say that everyone who’s in a relationship has times when they fantasize about or are attracted to other people and times when they’re more attracted to their partner and feel no one else could possibly measure up.
However, if you have regular healthy menstrual cycles and are not taking hormone birth control, the changes in desire for someone outside your relationship and increased feelings of closeness to your current partner tend to follow a distinct and predictable pattern that repeats every month in sync with the ups and downs of your hormones.
Specifically, you’re more prone to desiring someone other than your current mate in the high-estrogen days leading up to and including ovulation (which occurs in the middle of your cycle) and you’re more prone to feeling more attracted to your current partner in the high-progesterone week right after ovulation.
Though research has pointed out this phenomenon before, a new study in the journal Hormones and Behavior confirms this finding and goes further to examine why we experience these cyclic changes in desire.
In their study, they recruited 33 naturally-cycling women in monogamous heterosexual relationships and surveyed them about their sexual attraction to their mate and other men at different points in their cycle while also using saliva tests to find out their hormone levels.
Sure enough, as past research shows, the women showed a greater attraction to men other than their partner around ovulation and they showed a greater attraction to their partner in the week after.
So, why the difference?
Scientists believe it has to do with the way we’re wired when it comes to fertility: During ovulation, research shows high estrogen pushes us to seek out the best genetic match-up in case we get pregnant–and this prompts us to look around at other potential suitors even if we’re already in a relationship.
The authors of this particular study add to this by theorizing that we feel more attracted to our current partner in the week following ovulation possibly because it helps cement our relationship and create a closer, more lasting bond, which would be useful if we did end up getting pregnant and needed the extra support.
What does this ultimately mean for you?
If you get hit with pangs of desire for someone other than your mate around ovulation, don’t take it as a definite sign that something is wrong with your relationship–or that those fiery feelings will even last. It’s likely just your hormones playing tricks on you in the romance department.
Then, remember that in just a few days, you’ll be feeling more attracted to your sweetie once again, so blowing what you have by flirting with someone new probably isn’t worth it.
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[Photo: Cher VernalEQ]