Food & Drink

Does your partner steal food off your plate? It means you have a stronger relationship

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Harvey Day
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Why your partner stealing food off your plate is actually a good thing

To share or not to share? It’s the question everyone has to grapple with when you out-order your partner at Pizza Express or accidentally get a much nicer takeaway curry.

And now science is weighing in to explain why sharing your food is actually a good thing.

Researchers in Germany have discovered that there is a link between the sharing of food in chimpanzees and the release of something called the ‘love hormone’.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, “Evidence shows that oxytocin, a hormone involved in parent–offspring bonding, is likely to facilitate non-kin as well as kin bonds.

“In a population of wild chimpanzees, we measured urinary oxytocin levels following a rare cooperative event - food sharing.”

The study said that chimpanzees released a greater amount of the ‘love hormone’ - aka oxytocin - while sharing food with another member of the group.

“Subjects showed higher urinary oxytocin levels after single food-sharing events compared with other types of social feeding, irrespective of previous social bond levels,” the study said.

“Therefore, food sharing in chimpanzees may play a key role in social bonding under the influence of oxytocin.”

Why your partner stealing food off your plate is actually a good thing 1

“Really?! If you wanted this burger why didn’t you order it?”

Oxytocin is an important hormone produced in the brain that is stimulated during social interactions, childbirth and while having sex.

The study goes on to suggest that this positive reinforcement for food-sharing may have evolved to encourage mother-infant bonding.

And this isn’t the first time science has considered why humans and other primates share food.

Nature expert Matt Walker, writing for the BBC, has suggested it could all be down to sex.

He said: “Food sharing evolved between the sexes as a way to influence the choosing of partners. In short, food is exchanged for sex, and food is exchanged for support.

“In the food for sex exchanges, male primates share with females to attract them, and influence their choice of male partner.”

So, there you have it. If you care about your relationship, you better be prepared to share your delicious chicken tikka masala next time you get a takeaway.

Unless it’s like a REALLY nice curry. In which case, feel free to horde it all to yourself and prepare to die alone. 

(Images: iStock)

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Harvey Day

Digital writer for Shortlist.com / @harveyday94 / harvey.day@shortlist.com

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