Testosterone levels can predict relationship prospects

The next time you’re in a bar and a girl asks for your number, don’t be so quick to reach for your cellphone. She could mean your testosterone reading.

That’s because new research suggests that a guy’s T levels may accurately tell how likely he is to want a long term partnership.

Past studies have already shown that once men enter a stable relationship their T levels tend to drop. To quote Pearl Jam;

That’s evolution, baby.

It’s thought that once you’ve found a mate, your body takes it’s foot of the gas hormonally, allowing you to better settle down and raise a family.

So we have some idea how relationships impact T, but what’s less well understood is how far it works the other way. Does your volume of testosterone influence whether you prefer a casual or committed coupling? That’s what researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbour aimed to explore.

How did the study work?

79 males entering their first year of college were asked to take part in a year long longitudinal study monitoring changes in testosterone as they related to changes in personal circumstances. Longitudinal simply means the team would check back in on a monthly basis to record any changes.

The idea was that moving to college would mean a lot of the subjects transitioning in to new relationships or out of of old ones, giving researchers plenty of data to work with. Volunteers not only gave saliva samples to determine their hormone levels but also filled out various questionnaires including ones detailing relationship status.

Testosterone Studies in College

College – the perfect place to study …. libido and testosterone

They could describe their current situation in any number of ways including ‘other’ if things were a little more complex. They also disclosed the number of sexual or relationship partners involved in each relationship status.

Single and no relationship or sexual partners were known as “single” while a mix of relationship statuses involving sex was referred to as “sexual encounters and committed relationship”, “single and dating.” Those in a exclusive relationship without any other dating or sexual encounters were classified as “committed.”

The results?

Researchers found moving from a committed relationship and non-committed could accurately predict a rise in testosterone and those that were single, or those who had more casual partners had higher T than those in committed partnerships. Crucially those with lower testosterone initially were more likely to end up in committed relationship later on.

So what can we take from this? Well there may be a bit hormonal chicken and relationship egg going on, but according corresponding author, Sari M. van Anders, it’s very definitely a two way street.

“Our study provides longitudinal evidence that, in men, testosterone levels predict relationship status, and relationship status predicts testosterone levels”.

However these connections were not the same across the board, as van Anders goes on to point out:

“We found evidence that high testosterone levels early on did not predict later relationship status transitions from committed to single or casually partnered. Instead, transition from committed to single or casually partnered predicted high testosterone later on.”

In other words, don’t worry, if you’re going into a new relationship with pretty high T that doesn’t mean it’s doomed to fail in some scandelous Jerry Springer-esque storm of infidelity.

Though if you’re about to be back on the market, expect a boost.


This study – originally published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology – is an interesting insight into how hormones affect our choices and vice versa, but it’s not quite the finished article clinically speaking.

For example researchers have only found this link in younger men, we’ve no idea if the connection holds true in older guys.

So until there’s been a little more work done in this area if any girls out there want a saliva sample they’re gonna have to come get it the old fashioned romantic way.

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