The Secret to Getting Your Man to Become More Loving


George and Henry are cousins, but their behavior in love and at work couldn’t be more different. Here’s how they are described by Paul, a person who knows them both well. “George is a stand-up guy,” says Paul. “He gets along well with others and he always looks for the peaceful solution to conflict. He is loyal to his mate and shares in the housework and childrearing. He is a good provider and loves to give to his family and friends.”

Henry isn’t such a nice guy. Says Paul, “Henry is a loner and a ‘player.’ He doesn’t get along well with his neighbors and he tries to seduce every attractive female that crosses his path. He’s been married more times than I can count and I don’t think he’s ever going to settle down. And what makes me feel even sadder is he has very little regard for his kids, leaving them as easily has he does the females that no longer interest him.”

We all know people like George and Henry. But in this case, George and Henry aren’t people, they are voles. These chubby little furry creatures with small eyes and big ears look like characters in a Disney movie and have been studied by scientists to find out why they do what they do. Paul J. Zak is one of the scientists and he offers some interesting insights in his new book, The Moral Molecule:  The Source of Love and Prosperity

Oxytocin: The Molecule of Attachment Love 

In the 1980s, a young scientist named Sue Carter wanted to explore how the brain chemistry differed in two flavors of social creatures that were closely related but conducted themselves very differently. She studied the prairie voles and their cousin species the meadow voles. Our “stand-up guy,” George, is a prairie vole and our “loner and player,” Henry is a meadow vole.

Could brain chemistry account for the difference? Carter showed that it’s the number of oxytocin receptors lining the “reward” areas of the brain that accounts for how the gregarious and monogamous prairie vole conducts his life, and how his anti-social and unreliable cousin the meadow vole conducts his. Zak’s research shows there is a clear relationship in humans between the release of oxytocin, an ancient molecule found only in mammals, and our desire to act well towards others. Humans aren’t prairie voles, but we do share the same “love chemical.”

“Just like a good human dad piled up on the couch with the wife and kids, the male prairie vole simply feels good spending time with his mate and his young,” says Zak. “And like the guy who gets along with everybody down at the hardware store and the VFW hall, this same male prairie vole gets the warm glow of companionship, rather than a feeling of threat, whenever he steps out into the burrow at large.”

On the other hand Zak notes that the meadow vole lacks the oxytocin receptors necessary to pick up the pleasure signals triggered by social stimuli. “This makes them like the young stud driving a pimped-out Trans Am, with a long string of ex-girlfriends but no real friends; or the neighborhood crank who lives alone and threatens to shoot anyone who steps on his lawn.”

The Secret of Releasing Oxytocin

We all know men who are more empathic and loving than others.  Could they have more oxytocin running through their veins? How canyou get more of this “love hormone” and give it to the man in your life? One way is to buy a spray of this powerful potion, which you can do on-line. The problem is, it doesn’t work. Oxytocin is ashort-acting chemical and dissipates quickly. A better way is to release it naturally through activities that stimulate empathy and connection. I’ve found the following to be particularly effective in getting the oxytocin flowing between you:

*  Give him a hug.

*  Dance for him.

*  Give him a foot massage.

*  Sing with him. Join a choir together.

*  Soak in a tub with him.

* Surprise him with a gift.

* Complement him unexpectedly.

*  Take a Zumba class together.

*  Write a note of thanks for something quirky he did.

* Hold him close like the most precious little baby he once was.

* Forgive him when he acts like a brat.

As Zak says, “Oxytocin is the brain’s love chemical and just like love, you have to give it to get it. By that I mean you can do things that will cause someone else’s brain to release oxytocin, but you can’t do this selfishly. Give freely to others and when their brains release oxytocin they will want to reciprocate and give back to you.”


Jed Diamond, PhD, MCSW, is the Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men’s health, MenAliveis also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives. Diamond’s book, MenAlive: Stop Killer Stress with Simple Energy Healing Tools, brings together the wisdom accumulated in 40 years helping more than 20,000 men, women, and children.

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