Science vs. romance: Tears

You know the joke about how tears give a woman an unfair advantage in a fight? Turns out it’s no joke.

It’s evolution.

So say researchers who collected tears from women who were watching sad movies and then had men rate the sexual attractiveness of other women after sniffing the tears or vials of salt water.

The result: Being high on tears lowered men’s testosterone levels—as well as the hotness scores they dished out.

In other words, bawling and balling don’t mix.

Sadly, the researchers also concluded that “actual tears didn’t make the men empathetic.” I say “sadly” because it means that, if these people are right, the pangs of doubt and regret I felt every time I “made” a woman cry didn’t indicate I’m really an old softy at heart. Just a cold-blooded animal reacting to pheromones and eons of genetic mutation.


That just doesn’t seem right, though. For one thing, one researcher said he authored the study because he wondered if human tears contained pheromones similar to ones that were discovered in mouse tears. “After all,” said the Associated Press article I read, “we tend to hug a crying loved one.”

So when my mom was worried about an injury that could have cost her the use of her hands, I hugged her not because she’s my mom and I love her, but because I just couldn’t help myself? When a high school girlfriend broke down because her sister had been abused by her husband, what was going through my head was, “I don’t care, but due to reasons I’ll never understand, here’s some freakin’ consolation”?

That’s not how I remember either situation.

On the other hand, the researchers also concluded this pheromone thing probably isn’t exclusive to women. That tends to confirm a point central to the movie Adam’s Rib, in which Katharine Hepburn breaks into tears to break down Spencer Tracy, then breaks down herself when Tracy turns on the waterworks.

What does this mean for Fast Lane? I’m not sure. There will be tears, but I guess it’ll be up to the readers to decide if Lara’s being stereotypically manipulative and whether Clay’s reaction makes him a nice guy or a brute that’s just doing what nature compels.

On the other hand, if Clay were to do the crying, would he have the advantage? Or would that just be a big joke?

2 thoughts on “Science vs. romance: Tears”

  1. This is timely. I've been wondering the same thing about my hero. I've had him swallow the lump in his throat, and be grateful for the darkness hiding his tears. But I haven't him cry because I'm afraid he might appear too weak to the reader. I don't have an issue with men crying, however, it depends on the situation.

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