The woman who won’t give you the time of day still has you vying for her attention. Why do you want to woo her so badly? Well, according to a new study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, the less invested in the relationship she is, the more invested in the relationship you are.

OK, maybe this isn’t exactly breaking news—but now we have science to back it up.

The study found that oxytocin—the chemical released during sex that makes you want to cuddle and bond and whatnot—may also be released when one partner feels like the relationship is going south, making them try harder to fix things. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University of New Mexico hypothesized that oxytocin is released when “cues of relationship vulnerability combine with emotional engagement in the relationship,” renaming the cuddle hormone the “crisis hormone.”

The scientists performed two studies to test this theory. In the first study, they took the saliva of 75 American couples before and after they completed an open-ended writing test, which questioned  each partner’s opinion of how their partner accepts them and connects with them. Further, researchers looked at how invested each partner was by providing them with a questionnaire. In the second study, researchers looked at 148 Norwegian individuals and used the same tests as before—except this time there were no romantic partners involved. However, the results of both studies came back pretty much the same.

“Consistent with our predictions, increases in oxytocin across a thought-writing task were predicted by high levels of individuals’ own relationship involvement, but also by low levels of partners’ relationship involvement,” the authors of the study wrote. “Accordingly, the difference or discrepancy between self and partner involvement was a significant predictor of oxytocin change in both studies. This pattern was upheld in both male and female subjects.”

What’s the takeaway? As Nick Grebe, lead author of the study and PhD student at the University of New Mexico, explained: Having high love hormone levels doesn’t necessarily mean you’re better able to experience, well, love.

It’s like well-intentioned self-sabotage…

Photo: iStock/nicoletaionescu