The past couple of years have seen a new (somewhat social-media driven) era of honesty when it comes to sex, mental health, and relationships. The social constructs surrounding the gender binary and sexuality are being rethought and reconceptualized, while monogamy as the only acceptable relationship option is being similarly called into question. A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior used fMRI machines to examine the difference in male responses to romantic and sexual images, based on whether they identified as monogamous or non-monogamous—and the results might throw a wrench in your hot Valentine’s Day dream plans.
According to the study authors, romantic photos were more stimulating and enticing for those who identify as monogamous.
For the study, 20 men—10 who identified as monogamous and 10 who did not—underwent brain scans while viewing a series of romantic and sexual photos. According to the study authors, the “results indicated that monogamous men showed more reward-related neural activity when viewing romantic pictures compared to non-monogamous men,” which means romantic photos were more stimulating and enticing for the guys who identify as monogamous.
But, what’s the takeaway? Once a cheater always a cheater? That men see romance as mentally rewarding only when they’re paired up? Essentially, it’s hard to tell; for starters, 20 men is an extremely small sample. Second, the definition for a lack of monogamy isn’t expressly defined here—does it refer to polyamory, open relationships, or explicitly cheating? Because, I don’t know about you, but IMO, those situations are not identical.
Though so many details remain unclear, at least we know, scientifically speaking, romance isn’t totally dead.
Other recent discoveries from the world of science show that sleeping enough could be the key to cutting sugar cravings and that women are historically more resilient than men during times of crisis.