Testosterone has a bad rap these days because it’s what drives men to be dominant and competitive. And to be brave, take risks, drive fast and break the law.
Women have it too, at far lower levels, but they’re also more sensitive to it. Which makes it just as important in their lives. In both sexes it affects our moods and well being. And like men, women with higher levels are more assertive and seek work in high status professions.
A man’s testosterone level peaks at dawn each day and rises in response to the scent of a woman on her fertile days. It also rises if he watches sexually explicit movies, making him more motivated, competitive and energetic.
It affects spatial abilities like throwing and catching, and it’s level rises during a competition. Improving the athletes’ performance, concentration and coordination. The winners’ levels stay high for several hours after a match, but the losers’ fall quickly. And that’s even true for the fans watching sports like football! The spectators in the terraces experience almost the same hormonal changes as the players themselves, leading to the violence often seen at big matches.
Both men and women with high testosterone levels are less likely to marry and if they do they’re more likely to divorce. High testosterone men are also more likely to have affairs, less likely to help raise their own children, more likely to treat women badly and to be violent.
However, testosterone levels in men generally fall when they get married, and when they become fathers, making them easier to live with, and better parents. But they rise again if the relationship gets into trouble, as much as two years before an eventual break up! Though no one knows whether that’s in preparation for being single again or was the cause of the split.
And yet many women have a definite preference for high testosterone men!
So for example, women are unconsciously turned on by the classic ‘tough guy’ shape of a high testosterone man, and his smell, even though many women say they don’t like the smell of male sweat.
But why’s that? Because if high male hormone levels make a man less kind to women, you’d think they’d avoid highly masculine men. But they don’t.
That’s because a man like that does have some advantages! He’s a thrilling, risk taking winner, his relationships are full of excitement, and he has a higher sex drive. Characteristics he’ll pass on to his children.
Exciting, dominating and flashy, you can spot a high testosterone man a mile off. He’s confident, stands tall, moves easily and gazes unashamedly at everyone. He pushes people around and doesn’t smile much, especially at other men.
Respected professionally as well as by women, you can see why he’s so admired. He’s more likely to reach the boardroom. And the bedroom. But be careful. He’s not nice to live with.