The famous poet, Oscar Wilde, once said: “Those who are faithless know the pleasures of love; it is the faithful who know love’s tragedies.” Perhaps Oscar was referring to the emotional torment felt by those on the receiving end of infidelity. Or perhaps he was referring to the temptation all too often experienced by men – and women – to cheat on a partner. Either way, infidelity is without a doubt the most difficult problem any couple can face, for both the faithful and the faithless partner. Surely if there was a drug that could cure people from the temptations of infidelity, it would be flying off the pharmacy shelves? Well, it appears there might be.
“Social distance” is what can prevent people from cheating. It is the unwritten physical distance that people keep between them when they communicate. Communication within this distance is the point at which people start to feel uncomfortable. One set of circumstances that really tests the boundaries of social distance is when two people flirt. When these people give in to temptation, that social distance is broken down.
It was initially thought that oxytocin, a substance that encourages social relationships, would be able to break down that distance. Researchers at the University of Bonn recently decided to put this theory to the test. Oxytocin has long been nick-named the “love hormone”, so researchers at the institute thought that the substance would diminish any desire to maintain social distance.