The poser above spurred two men, Larry Young and Brian Alexander to attempt to answer it in their recently released “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction” which dissected the emotional, biological and cultural reasons behind the real reason men love breasts.
The two authors believe heterosexual men are so fascinated by women’s breasts thanks to a simple hormone released during nursing which helps to forge the powerful bond between mother and baby, which also creates an evolutionary drive for a strong nurturing bond between lovers.
Mr Young, a leading expert in the neuroscience of social bonding, wrote a column for the Huffington Post, explaining that ‘biologically speaking,’ the human male breast obsession is ‘pretty weird’.
‘Men are the only male mammals fascinated by breasts in a sexual context,’ said Mr Young.
‘And women are the only female mammals whose breasts become enlarged at puberty, independent of pregnancy. We are also the only species in which males caress, massage and even orally stimulate the female breasts during foreplay and sex.’
In answering the question of why ‘men really love breasts,’ the authors reference a neurological explanation that links the same brain mechanisms used to promote a powerful bond between a mother and her infant.
‘When a woman gives birth, her newborn will engage in some pretty elaborate manipulations of its mother’s breasts,’ they wrote.
‘This stimulation sends signals along nerves and into the brain. There, the signals trigger the release of a neurochemical called oxytocin from the brain’s hypothalamus.
‘This oxytocin release eventually stimulates smooth muscles in a woman’s breasts to eject milk, making it available to her nursing baby.’
They continued: ‘But oxytocin release has other effects, too. When released at the baby’s instigation, the attention of the mother focuses on her baby. The infant becomes the most important thing in the world.
‘Oxytocin, acting in concert with dopamine, also helps imprint the newborn’s face, smell and sounds in the mother’s reward circuitry, making nursing and nurturing a feel-good experience, motivating her to keep doing it and forging the mother-infant bond. This bond is not only the most beautiful of all social bonds, it can also be the most enduring, lasting a lifetime.’
Essentially, ‘when a partner touches, massages or nibbles a woman’s breasts, it sparks the same series of brain events as nursing,’ they explained.
Humans are also among the very few animals that have sex face-to-face, ‘looking into each other’s eyes.’
The authors conclude that this ‘quirk’ of human sexuality has evolved to ‘exploit the ancient mother-infant bonding brain circuitry as a way to help form bonds between lovers.’
Because an oxytocin release focuses the brain’s attention to a partner’s face, smell, and voice, the authors believe that the combination of oxytocin release from breast stimulation, and the increase of dopamine from the excitement of foreplay and face-to-face sex, helps to create an ‘association of the lover’s face and eyes with the pleasurable feelings, building a bond in the women’s brain’.
Far from being creepy, the authors say, a man’s fascination with breasts is ‘an unconscious evolutionary drive prompting us to activate powerful bonding circuits that help create a loving, nurturing bond.’