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Hormonal response to partner exposure in female-female, female-male, and male-male romantic partnerships

Rogers, Forrest D.
Love and affection have long been the subjects of human fascination. We posit that these feelings of love and affection are the cumulative manifestations of biological responses to prospective and current romantic partners. Such biological responses are linked especially to coordination of the hormone cortisol. Feelings of love and affection do not limit themselves to opposite-sex romantic partner pairs; they extend to female-female and male-male partner pairings. We assert that biological responses to romantic partner exposure should be similar amongst individuals of the same biological sex, regardless of the sex of their partner. Previous research shows that romantic partners display synchrony in their cortisol responses, or adrenocortical attunement. The focus of this study is on cortisol responses in individuals in response to partner exposure, measured in salivary samples taken at and around the time of partner exposure and assayed for cortisol. This study examines a series of specific hormonal snapshots related to partner exposure in opposite and same-sex romantic partnerships. Our data show homologous attunement patterns between same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships. Further, results indicate a strong connection between adverse childhood experiences, attachment anxiety, and mating orientation with potential to disrupt adrenocortical attunement between romantic partners.