Sexual Monogamy Probably Doesn't Exist
Here's Your Chance to Try Oxytocin

The Nesting Instinct

In a comment, Dave asked me whether I'd found any evidence that doing organizing tasks like cleaning up the house or putting things away can cause an oxytocin release in women.

As he added, it sounds like something a lazy husband wishes were true. (And thanks for acknowledging that, Dave!)

First, let me say emphatically, "No!" I have found no evidence or inklings of this.

Now, let me say, "Er, ummmm .... well ... "

I think I might experience this. I got interested in the oxytocin response because it seemed to explain my own late-blooming ability to love. After many many years of not being able to connect, I seemed to develop this ability over the course of a few years. One huge thing that helped me change, I think, was being called on to assume care of a friend who was very sick and incapacitated. After that, I was able to buy a house and I withdrew from the world a bit.

After being a renter for years and years, I suddenly had my own home. I planted a garden, scrubbed, fixed up. I was working at home as a freelance writer, and I stopped dating, didn't socialize that much. I believe that the couple of years spent truly making a home for myself changed me deeply, and did open me up to love.

And the sick thing is that, as much as I put it off, I do get satisfaction from picking up and cleaning up the house.

Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, in her excellent book, The Oxytocin Factor, talks about the way being in beautiful and soothing surroundings can activate oxytocin's calming effects. And it's well-known that mammals won't go into labor unless they're in a quiet, safe place. (Oxytocin induces the contractions that move the fetus down the birth canal.)

It's certainly possible that a female's (human or not) physiology evolved over time to release oxytocin during a variety of nesting activities.

But guys, that doesn't mean you shouldn't help out, okay? You release oxytocin, too, in response to circumstances. So get on those dishes.