What turns strong, silent types into emotional, chatty softies?

What turns strong, silent types into emotional, chatty softies?


Are you a wife or girlfriend of a macho guy and frustrated by his inability to whisper sweet nothings to you and talk about his feelings?

Are you a woman who doesn’t find it easy to express your emotions to your partner or disappointed that your girlfriend or wife finds it difficult to express her emotions to you?

A new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reveals the secret to getting strong, silent types to spill their soft, emotional guts: Wait until right after sex–then they open up like a steamed mussel. 

How’d the researchers find this out? In their study, they took saliva samples from 253 adults to measure their testosterone levels and asked them to keep a diary for two weeks about their sexual activities and the type of “pillow talk”–chats usually done after being intimate–they engaged in.

What the researchers found: Men and women with a higher level of testosterone (typically characterized in men by a strong jawline, deep voice, wide face and/or small eyes and in both men and women as being more assertive, ambitious and competitive) are less prone to revealing their emotions to their partner out of fear of risking rejection, embarrassment or losing control. Instead, these high-testosterone lovers stay mum or make “negative” remarks, such as jokes or insults, when prodded to share their feelings.

On the other hand, men and women with a lower level of testosterone (typically characterized in men by more feminine-looking facial features and in both men and women as being more cooperative and sensitive) didn’t have this problem. They happily shared whatever was in their hearts.

But, then the researchers discovered something interesting: After high-testosterone men and women experienced an orgasm, they acted just like their lower-testosterone counterparts and became more willing to open up about their feelings.

While this study didn’t examine why this post-climax change in behavior occurs, past research shows that orgasm produces a surge of oxytocin–a hormone that makes you more trusting, relaxed, empathetic and connected to your partner, which is why it’s often referred to as the “love hormone”. So, it’s possible this may play a part.

So, what’s the takeaway? If you want to hear your manly guy or taciturn gal coo to you like a mourning dove or you want to be able to express your feelings to your partner without worry, then wait until after sexual intimacy to try.

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