Science

Men Are Biologically Discouraged From Sleeping With Their Friends' Wives

By Sean Kane , Mar 22, 2013 04:41 PM EDT
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New research suggests that biology is keeping men from sleeping with their friends’ wives.

A study from the University of Missouri finds that testosterone levels drop when men are interacting with their friends’ spouses.

This biologic discouragement may have been instrumental in forming strong, cohesive communities in early human development. However, this drop in testosterone does not occur with all women who are spoken for.

“Men’s testosterone levels generally increase when they are interacting with a potential sexual partner or an enemy’s mate,” Dr. Mark Flinn told the Daily Mail. “However, our findings suggest that men’s minds have evolved to foster a situation where the stable pair bonds of friends are respected.” Flinn is a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri and lead author of the study.

According to Flinn, men shouldn’t worry about their enemies seducing their wives either, though.

“Although men have many chances to pursue a friend’s mate, propositions for adultery are relatively rare on a per opportunity basis,” he said.

Understanding how humans developed the ability to get along with each other (protip: don’t sleep with your friend’s wife) could help us modern humans come together to solve our planet’s woes.

“Ultimately, our findings about testosterone levels illuminate how people have evolved to form alliances,” Flinn said. “Using the biological understanding of human nature, we can look for ways to solve global problems. The same physiological mechanisms that allow villages of families to coexist and cooperate can also allow groups like NATO and the U.N. to coordinate efforts to solve common problems.”

Dr. Flinn’s study is published in the journal Human Nature, and features work from co-authors Michael Muehlenbein of Indiana University and Davide Ponzi of Missouri’s Division of Biological Sciences.

Finding out how we learned to get along could help us unite humanity on the global scale, according to Flinn: “The more we view the Earth as a single community of people, the greater our ability to solve mutual threats, such as climate change.” 

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