If you’re the kind of guy who listens to prescription drug commercials, you might associate lower testosterone levels (“Low T” in the fake doctor parlance) with a lower sex drive, lower energy, and lower overall manliness. But new research suggests that — if you’re the kind of guy who ignores prescription drug commercials — you might already know: lower testosterone can actually make you nicer to be around. Also, drug commercials are generally terrible indicators of what is, or isn’t, manly.
The study found aging men with more emotionally supportive relationships — mainly involved fathers, married men, and those with two or more sources of emotional support — had lower levels of testosterone compared to their single peers. This supports previous studies that have found both fatherhood and age in general perpetuate a natural taming of the hormone, and explains your relatively recent ability to watch TV dramas and romantic comedies with your significant other. The one genuine insight of the new research is that an increase in nurturing, empathy, and interest in maintaining healthy long-term relationships associated with lower testosterone doesn’t just apply to your kids and your romantic partner; it also has a beneficial effect on your relationships with friends and neighbors.
To be fair, testosterone levels can plunge to a point that’s considered medically dangerous, which will result in precipitously lower-than-normal energy and even depression. But, for generally healthy people, a drop of roughly one percent per year after age 40 is totally normal. So, while you might be losing a step in your pickup game or folding more hands in poker, you should feel good knowing that so is James Bond — and also that you’re a better partner, parent, and friend, because of it.