The Science of Sex: Tears Turn Him Off

By Josie Brown

Ladies, turn off the waterworks. New research shows us that our tears turn him off.

According to a study conducted by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, men who sniffed the tears of weeping women produced less testosterone–and found female faces less arousing.

The study, which was published online Thursday by the Journal Science, tested 50 tear-sniffing men.  The results: their testosterone levels experienced a drop averaging thirteen percent.

In fact, those who viewed erotic images before submitting to an MRI showed less activity in the sexual arousal regions of their brains, too.

“We’ve uncovered the chemical word for ‘no,’ or ‘not now.'” says neuroscientist Noam Sobel, who conducted the study.

In humans, tears serve two purposes. Tears rise from emotions, or they are a a reflex, induced to protect our eyes.

Animals cry, too, but for different reasons. for example, male mice will cry to  attract females, and blind mole rats weep to ward off other males.

I guess the animal kingdom has its wussies, too.

It was Sobel’s contention that  human tears contained a chemical signal between humans, too. To get his bait, he caught the tears of  six women  watching weepy chick flicks such as “My Sister’s Keeper” by letting their tears trickle into a test tube.

Sobel presumed that this emotional fallout would trigger feelings of sadness or empathy. You can imagine his surprise to discover that, instead, the tears dampened the men’s’  libidos.

Talk about shrinkage.

Adam Anderson, a University of Toronto psychologist (who was not involved in the study) explains why the theory that  “tears have some influence on sexual selection”  might have been misguided. “That’s not something we associate with sadness. It could be a [primitive] way of [women] warding off unwanted advances.”

There you have it: if you want to break up with a guy, cry him a river.

He’ll skedaddle out of there, and quick.

Josie Brown is’s Relationships Channel Editor. Her next novel, The Baby Planner, will be in bookstores on April 5, 2011.