What Makes A Date Romantic?

Wondering what to do to set a sexy mood? A new study should make your choice easy—and lay the groundwork for a major makeout session.

By Lisa Cericola

o, it’s date night and you want to set the mood for romance…what’s the right plan to make? Interestingly, it’s going to a movie, but not any old flick. Chances are, guys will vote for the latest action-packed flick starring The Rock; women prefer a film with a more romantic storyline (anything starring John Cusack or Diane Lane—or both—will do). If you want kisses after the credits roll, then the woman should get her way—or so says a recent study by the University of Michigan.

If a steamy makeout session sounds like a great way to end your date, then let the woman pick the flick.
Researchers reached this conclusion after testing the hormone levels of three different groups of men and women who were shown a variety of movies. One group watched a romantic scene from The Bridges of Madison County, a second viewed a violent portion of The Godfather: Part II, and a third was shown a documentary on the Amazon rainforest. While the viewers watching the rainforest footage experienced no hormonal changes, researchers found that The Bridges of Madison County caused a surge in both men’s and women’s levels of progesterone, a hormone that triggers the urge to cuddle. “Progesterone is known to have anxiety-reducing, soothing effects,” explains Oliver C. Schultheiss, associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and co-author of the study. Thus, progesterone may prepare the ground for romance and help couples bond, he says.

The Godfather, on the other hand, created the opposite effect, widening the hormonal—and emotional—gap between the sexes. Men saw their testosterone levels jump as much as 30 percent, making them feel more competitive and less romantically-inclined, while women’s testosterone levels dropped, putting their mood at odds with their partner’s. “An increase in testosterone makes it easier for you to assert yourself and dominate others,” says Schultheiss. “Which, if you’re male, may be helpful in attracting a partner.” Sorry, guys—just know that if you do forego the action film for a chick flick, chances are high you’ll see a little action of your own.

Lisa Cericola is a New York City-based writer. She bonds with her boyfriend over Wes Anderson movies.
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