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Forget the sob story, ladies. New research shows that playing the sympathy card isn’t the most effective way to land a man.
A study published in the journal Science found that tears are a total turn-off for guys. Our emotional waterworks contain chemicals that dampen his sexual desire and tell him to basically back off. This is probably a good thing, given that women aren’t generally looking to hook up when they’re in the midst of a crying jag.
I use the term “generally,” because I’ve watched more seasons of The Bachelor than I care to admit. In so doing, I’ve witnessed every type of feminine come-on imaginable, and believe it or not, woe-is-me tales of hardship rank pretty high on the list of tactics used to win the bachelor-of-the-moment’s heart.
Of course, the research doesn’t say whether weeping makes a man less likely to love you -- only that his testosterone levels plummet when he smells your sad little tears. And, in that moment, you become less sexually appealing to him. It’s kind of sweet, really, that a woman’s distress signal can make a guy stop thinking about sex for all of an hour (my time estimate, not the researchers’). The study did not, to my dismay, determine how long the effect lasts. I suppose this just means I’ll have to conduct my own tearful experiments the next time I’m not in the mood for my husband’s advances.
For the study (which strangely mirrors John Waters’ film Cry-Baby), researchers sought out women who cry easily and profusely, and asked them to collect vials of tears as they watched movie clips from tearjerkers like My Sister’s Keeper and When a Man Loves a Woman. A group of men were then asked to place a soaked pad under their nose and look at images of attractive women. Half of the pads were soaked with a saline solution, and the other half were full of the female volunteers’ tears. Compared to the testosterone levels of the guys sniffing saline solution, the sexual hormone levels of the men with tears under their noses were on average 13 percent lower. The men subjected to the scent of tears also found the images much less sexually appealing and showed less sexual arousal in brain scans.
Scientists have long wondered why humans, unlike most other animals, cry. Past research has found that not all tears are created equally. Those shed when we chop onions, for instance, do not have the same chemical makeup as those produced out of sadness. However, this particular study did not assess whether onion-induced tears, or tears from other emotions like joy, send the same “not tonight, dear” message.
Researchers are also curious to find out how men’s tears impact women, and hope to study that next. For that experiment, I would like to volunteer my dad, and let scientists know that his favorite weepy movie is Ghost.
As for those female contestants on The Bachelor who love to soak the sympathy card for all it’s worth with tears that proclaim, “Protect me, I’m fragile,” I would like to offer this little piece of advice: If you’ve only got 30 seconds to make your best impression before the elimination ceremony, crying is definitely not your best strategy. What does heighten a man’s attraction is danger. If he thinks his life is at risk, he’ll be more likely to fall head over heels for you. So suck it up and go bungee jumping together (how do you think Vienna won Jake’s heart?) -- just try not to cry if you get scared.
Have your tears ever helped you get a guy? Chime in below.