The Role of Testosterone in Breakups

Whether you’re in a relationship or not makes a big difference for your physiology and bodily chemistry.  A host of neurochemical constellations are involved in a series of complex processes that drive sets of physiological responses and behaviors. In a relationship, one of these constellations you’re likely to experience is that of attachment to your beloved. These feelings of fusion with your lover are now widely attributed to the “paternal instinct” chemical of oxytocin and the “cuddle” chemical of vasopressin.

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We share a lot of our brain chemistry with other mammals and even birds. Since most of  these processes are so complex and hard to single out, scientists tend to inject other mammals with these chemicals to figure out what effect they have. For example, injecting vasopressin into the brains of virgin male prarie voles induced these males to become possessive of a nearby female and defend the space around them from other males. Thus, feelings of attachment were increased by increasing the level of vasopressin.


Testosterone, is another such brain chemical involved in a complex constellation. Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone and is primarily secreted in the male testicles. From an evolutionary standpoint, testosterone is seen to be beneficial during certain forms of competition and the exertion of dominance.

Renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher poses, in her book Why We Love, poses that testosterone can reduce the chemistry of male-female attachment.

She states that there is ample evidence that men in committed romantic relationships have lower levels of testosterone than single men. As a man’s marriage becomes less stable, his levels of testosterone rise. With divorce or divorce, his testosterone levels rise even more.

According to Fisher, increased levels of testosterone can decrease levels of vasopressin and oxytocin – the very chemicals responsible for male-female attachment. When scientists surgically pumped testosterone into monogamous male sparrows, these faithful fathers abandoned their nests, their young, and their wives to court other females.

Increased levels of testosterone can decrease levels of vasopressin and oxytocin – the very chemicals responsible for male-female attachment

But the reverse also happens: as a man becomes more and more attached to his lover, levels of testosterone can decline. In fact, at the birth of a child, expectant fathers experience a significant decline in levels of testosterone. Even when a man holds a baby, levels of testosterone decrease.

So the physiology of attachment correlates with decreased levels of testosterone and increased levels of oxytocin and vasopressin. Whereas the physiology of bachelorhood correlates with increased levels of testosterone and decreased levels of oxytocin and vasopressin. Not only can testosterone decrease feelings of male-female attachment, their are a host of other advantageous effects for single men.

The advantageous effects of testosterone for single men

  • The effect of testosterone treatment on changes in mood was studied in men. Testosterone replacement led to significant decreases in anger, irritability, sadness, tiredness, and nervousness, and significant improvement in energy level, friendliness, and sense of well-being in all subjects as a group.
  • Testosterone may produce antidepressant effects in men. Scientists administered testosterone transdermal gel to men aged 30–65 who had refractory depression and low or borderline testosterone levels. The findings suggest that testosterone may produce antidepressant effects in depressed men.
  • Testosterone treatment is known to decrease visceral fat mass, increase lean muscle mass, improve insulin resistance and decrease blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Testosterone replacement in men enhanced skeletal muscle mass by stimulating the muscle protein synthesis rate.
The disadvantageous effects of testosterone
  • Testosterone is known to induce aggressive behavior in other animals, so far the results are inconclusive for human beings. One of the reasons is that testosterone in humans can increase or decrease in response to an aggressive encounter. Men with above- average testosterone are more likely to engage in antisocial and risk behaviors that increase the chances of depression.
  • Men with higher levels of testosterone are less likely to be depressed if they are socially integrated by way of marriage or employment. Testosterone seems to have direct and indirect effects.

Working Out Induces Testosterone

The effects of testosterone are clearly advantageous for men going through a breakup. I do not advocate any type of testosterone treatment. Luckily there is a natural way to boost your testosterone levels: working out.

Research has indicated that acute, heavy resistance training increases testosterone concentration, this elevation is also seen in the recovery period from the resistance exercise workout.

I believe this is one of the reasons so many guys report on the benefits of working out in getting over a breakup. It’s a great way to vent your anger, focus on improving yourself and it feels great to push your body. And, recent research suggests that the increased testosterone levels could help shift your physiology from a male-female attachment mode to a detached bachelor mode.

There are other natural ways to boost your testosterone levels as others have experimented with.

Let me know if this sounds familiar in the comments.

About Jesse

I’ve been helping guys recover from their breakups since 2012. Work with me to fast-track your recovery.


  1. Cathy-Anne Young says:

    My boyfriend and I were in a loving relationship and since he started on testosterone treatment a few months ago our relationship changed from him wanting to move in together and accepting my daughter in his life, to not.
    After 3 weeks since we broke up, we had a chance to talk today and he says that his levels are low. But, I can’t help but think that his cocktail of meds and testosterone treatment has something to do with his decision to not wanting to be with me. We were friends for 9 months before he made a decision to have us a couple. He knew of my daughter, he knew of me and who I was and wanted.
    He has been on anti anxiety and depression medication, in addition to using vicodin every day to ease his physical pain. I know that I don’t want to be in a relationship with him while he is on this treatment and somehow I still want to find a reason to believe that he is possessed by all the medication combined that might be taking over his psyche. Am I wrong to feel that way? And sometimes I want to find a reason to believe that there is still a future for us. Am I right? And should I have belief in for him 2- 5 years from now? Even as just a friend. He is truly a lovely person when he wants to be, but I think that his fears from his past and then this cocktail of medication is ruining the future that we could have had. I don’t mean to seem selfish, but I guess I just need some explanation so that I can move on and know that it’s not me. And that there is still hope for us. And I do worry about his mental health. Please help me make some sense of all of this.
    He has always been worried about his physical appearance and started to use a competition type workout in his regimen. I have wondered that this good side effect of the testosterone treatment has made him greedy to obtain what he really wants for himself. I have made myself to believe that he broke up with me abruptly to cut me off from the guilt that he will have when he reacts to me in rage due to the testosterone combined with the other medication.

  2. My husband has been on TRT therapy for 2 years and has turned into a womanizer, thoughtless, inconsiderate, aggressive, hostile, dominate asshole. We are getting divorced next week. He wasn’t these things prior to TRT. Just wanted everyone to know it is happening everywhere.

    • Sorry to hear that DD. Thanks for sharing in any case. Like I mentioned in the article there does seem to be a connection between testosterone levels and aggressive, asocial behavior. Why was your husband on TRT?

      • He went to the doctors (first visit physical) and complained on lethargy and feeling like he was walking in mud. The doctor tested him his T levels, but not free testosterone and it came up as 239. In the meantime he has had deep depression over childhood issues. He told him to start with androgel and sent him on his way. No further follow up until my ex-husband went back in to say he wanted to start shots because he didn’t like rubbing the androgel on himself in case my daughter or I got it on ourselves. He put him on shots, did not check his levels and all. Then my husband went in to ask about pellets and he did one round of those – 11 pellet inserts later and he went back to shots. All this time never once did he check his levels, test him for free T or do anything such as send him to an endocrinologist. Basically my ex is addicted because of the euphoric and invincible feeling. On top of it this doctor didn’t even know what free T was because I went in to discuss the unbelievable changes in him and asked what his free T was at the beginning and he stumbled with his words and said we didn’t do that test. Didn’t ask any other questions. Now his glucose is high – his FSH is high – his blood pressure is high and other things are going wrong. When I told the doctor that Testosterone is now on the FDA list of top 10 addictive drugs he didn’t know that and was surprised. Total negligence and his T is not even right, very low at times. I believe he has tried to ween himself off by using boosters and other things, but needs help. If my ex gets critically sick I am going to litigate this ass. It is obvious to me he is a pill pusher. A few other people I know have gone to see him and walked out within 10 minutes with meds. Why are doctors not following up? Every lab he had (initiated by my ex after I told him what T does) has been mailed and not discussed. I keep them all and you cannot believe how healthy he was too start and how unhealthy he is now. In the summer his testicles swelled up and he had pain in his abdomen. There were black veins all over them and he had to go the emergency room. What is wrong with these doctors?

        • One more thing. While on T he told me he looked at his daughter one day and had ABSOLUTELY no feelings for her. It lasted a long time and he has become a dead beat dad. No empathy or emotion.

    • I am reading this and this is my current life. I am currently getting a divorce now too. My husband went to a urologist Dr 5 years ago for BPH but he also tested low for Testosterone and they put him on Androgel, and through the years on different types of Testosterone. He became a different person, he lies now has a girlfriend and do not seem to have the integrity he use to have. He says things and has become more aggressive. I also recently started searching about this when a friend mentioned the testosterone my be the problem. I don’t think it matters anyway because I really believe he will not stop taking the Testosterone now anyway, he absolutely believes he has to have it.

  3. lol… Great.

    Where do gay men fit into this?

  4. Working out so far has been the best remedy against my pain. It distracts you and seeing your body transform for the better is a great feeling.

  5. Wow.. very scientific post


  1. […] this stage is all about moving on.Starting working out to reduce your dopamine deficiency and increase your testosterone to reclaim your manhood and detox yourself from the relationship. Working out is also a great way […]

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