Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Pill

Recently, some interesting findings were reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  Psychologist Craig Roberts and his Czech and Scottish fellow researchers found that, based on a sample of 2,500 women, those who were on birth control pills when they met a man were more likely to stay in that relationship than those no using contraception or using others forms of contraception.  They were, however, less likely to find the men they were partnered with to be sexually satisfying.

An obvious effect of The Pill is that it evens out menstrual cycle-related hormonal variations; and these can affect how women judge men as potential mates.   For example, studies have shown that women prefer more masculine men during ovulation than at other times of the month -- because the more strikingly obvious a man's physical traits are, the more successful he is likely to be as a breeder.  At other times of the month, women are less drawn towards muscular hunks as  average-looking guys with  steady jobs, better financial prospects, and pleasant dispositions.

Further evidence indicates that women might engage in more sexually-inviting behaviors around the time of ovulation, even though neither she nor potential males are aware of her condition.  For example, Geoffrey Miller and his associates found that lap dancers received sigificantly larger tips around the time of their ovulation.  These greater-sized tips may have been prompted by more overt affectionate behaviors.

Roberts also found that oral contraceptives can also alter women’s preferences for men’s body odor.  When a woman is on the Pill, she is more likely to prefer the odor of men who are more genetically similar to them; but if she is off the pill, she's more attracted to the odor of men who are genetically less similar to her during ovulation.  This preference towards genetic different guys may be because any resulting babies are more likely to be healthy.

What a choice: more marital stability and so-so sex; or less stability but really hot sex while it happens.  Actually, sex is only one of the reasons for partnering: there's companionship, common interests, love, economic factors, mutual desire for children, and other things.

So what is there to learn from this?

I see several things.

1.  We should never discount basic biology in explaining human motives; even though we might not always be pleased by its implications. 

2.  A woman on the Pill may, paradoxically, be a factor leading to more family stability and harmony.  Very clearly, if a woman chooses more wisely a mate, this is a good thing.  Now this is a Family Values matter, one that should be attractive to both Democrats and Republicans!

3.  Also, strictly from the woman's position, this means that she may be less likely to select a jerk

4.  Many of the differences might be explained by other factors.  Let's face it, the more overtly masculine fellows usually have more opportunity for sex.  Therefore, they are at a later stage in the sexual learning curve.  However, with patience, love, and effective communication of mutual desires and needs, this sexual pleasure gap might be closed.  Therefore, the initially dismaying interpretation might be less unpleasant than was first seen.

5.  As ishy as it might sound, there seems to be an olfactory dimension in sexual attraction.  Actually, Napoleon may have noted this 200 years ago; he wrote to Josephine, "Don't wash, I'm coming home!"

6.  Lastly, we need to accept the limitations to our rationality in decision-making.


Deena said...

I don't know about this olfaction thing -- making love with a sweaty guy sounds gross!

Grand Crapaud said...

There's a lot of irony here.

Anonymous said...

Can we infer that receiving a lap dance is more fun when she's ovulating? Does she enjoy it more then also?

Big Sky Heidi said...

Jerks still make good one night stands.

Bilbo said...

Very interesting post. The topic of how a woman decides between manly studs (the prospect of good genes) and normal guys like ... well ... me (the prospect of long-term love and support) is one I've read about before. If you can find it, Desmond Morris's great book "The Naked Ape" has a lot of interesting information on the topic of sex and how we select partners. And Deena, don't get too down on the olfactory idea ... nobody likes "sweaty," but the normal scents of men and women can be quite a turn-on. Trust me on this one.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The good news about the Pill is that genuinely nice guys have a better chance with potential mates who use it.