Next time your boyfriend or husband is feeling stressed, sick, or pissed, rub his shoulders, hold his hand, or give him a quick back massage. Sure, it’s a nice gesture, but you should do it for purely selfish reasons too.
Researchers just discovered that when a woman provides physical comfort to a guy in need, the reward center of her brain lights up. It’s the same region of the brain that typically responds to chocolate, sex, and money.
The study, which was conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles, consisted of 20 couples in “good relationships”. The boyfriends received painful electric shocks (we really hope they were compensated monetarily for this) while the girlfriends either held their man’s arm or didn’t touch him.
The women, who were hooked up to MRI machines, showed “increased activity in the reward-related regions of the brain” whenever they were touching their electrically-shocked significant others. The girlfriends also reported feeling more connected with their guys when they were touching during a shock. Whereas, when the woman didn’t offer support in the form of an arm touch, those regions of the brain showed decreased activity.
The researchers concluded that “support-giving may have stress-reducing effects for the person who provides the support”.
Then scientists then compared the brain scans of the women who touched their boyfriends during the electric shock with the brain scans of the women who touched their boyfriends not getting shocked. And guess what they discovered? The women didn’t feel nearly as rewarded, de-stressed, or connected when the guy wasn’t in pain.
This isn’t to say that our entire gender is masochistic and we enjoy seeing our guys suffer. The scientists took the findings to mean that we get pleasure out of being there for our men and giving them physical support and comfort. Awww.
So what’s the lesson here? Touch your guy more when he’s in a bad mood. Actually, you know what? Just touch him more regardless of mood. Because touching leads to sex and sex lights up that happy part of your brain.