My Chemical Romance: How birth control changed who I'm attracted to
During the five years I spent on birth control, my taste in men turned decidedly feminine. Nearly a quarter of my life thus far has been tied to the day-in and day-out popping of pills, sometimes even skipping my period entirely. While traveling abroad last year, I decided to quit birth control cold-turkey. Soon enough, the sharp features and defined arms I had previously found foul became appealing. My years-long obsession with the Ladybird heartthrob dissipated without my noticing. Sure, this might be a coincidence. Timothee’s recent relationship with Kylie Jenner makes it a hell of a lot harder for the “mysterious American French actor" bit to work its magic. But it felt like a bit more than outgrowing a crush.
I had heard of women suddenly finding their partners un-sexy after getting on or off birth control, usually anecdotal, or as a borderline olwive's tale. I hadn’t expected to be affected, or care – after all, I’d become known amongst my friends for my man-written-by-a-woman preference. To say I was surprised by my sudden change in taste would be putting it lightly.
A 2013 study tracked women’s preferences for varying facial masculinity on and off the pill, finding that women on hormonal birth control chose partners with less masculine faces than women who were not on birth control when choosing their partners. In short: on birth control, less masculine; off birth control, more masculine. Birth control changing attraction had been studied years prior to this, instead focusing on pheromones rather than facial features, and finding that pill use correlated to difficult preference in the smell of a partner. Both studies echo the odd shift in taste that many on birth control have reported experiencing, amongst a slew of reactions that may accompany the pill.
Before you rush to question whether you’re actually attracted to your partner, let’s stop and think about what this means. The science behind this phenomenon isn’t without objection. A 2019 study refuted the claims made about facial masculinity and its relationship to birth control, arguing that in their own study of women’s preferences, they were not able to verify this correlation. The verdict is still up-in-the-air. For the time being, our knowledge of the potential relationship between hormonal birth control and attraction male be limited to our own experiences of expired crushes.
I spent the evening with my closest friend, reminiscing about childhood crushes. I talked about how odd I found it, that I used to like such masculine guys, but then I stopped to think. It's not that my taste in guys has done a complete 360, but I’ve started to feel more sympathetic to my pre-birth-control self. For years I had felt there was this massive disconnect in my sexuality pre vs post birth control, and it was finally converging once again. Perched on my friend’s couch, I pulled up “Surprising Fans At Their Houses!!” from the Dolan Twins’ Youtube channel. We sat and watched the video, and for the first time in years, I finally got why my teen self was so smitten. Maybe it's finally getting off of birth control that’s made me re-appreciate my childhood crushes, or maybe it's pure coincidence.