Superman and Wonder Woman’s romance may be fictional, but attraction between men with high testosterone and women with high estrogen is real.
By Helen Fisher
Written on Sep 06, 2023
Photo: lineartestpilot2, Vectortradition, nomadsoulphotos, Elnur via Canva
Some things are meant to be — like Superman and Wonder Woman falling in love. Ever wonder why that is? Turns out, there’s science behind this magnetism between high-testosterone males and high-estrogen females that makes Superman and Wonder Woman’s romance more than just a fictional story.
Superman is the high-testosterone savior writ large.
An acute sense of justice and fairness are traits linked with the testosterone system in the brain. So Superman’s affiliation with the “Justice League of America” is an immediate tipoff to his personality type: a high-testosterone male, what I call the Director. He also looks like a Director.
Testosterone builds muscle—one of Superman’s outstanding traits. His angular jaw, high cheekbones, thin lips, and heavy brow ridges are also carved by testosterone. Oddly, these physical traits also signal his invulnerability—at least his imperviousness to disease. Testosterone is a caustic substance that jeopardizes the immune system; only men with a very strong immune system can tolerate high levels of this male hormone. Superman is among them.
Most importantly, this “Man of Steel” saves people he doesn’t know. Known as ‘heroic altruism,’ this willingness to confront severe danger to save a stranger is linked with elevated levels of testosterone. Directors want to be needed, to help, to “fix” the problems of the world. Superman personifies this primordial male role: the protector.
Wonder Woman exudes qualities built by estrogen.
She’s what I call the Negotiator. This type is compassionate and nurturing; they seek peace and harmony, as Wonder Woman does. And I’m not surprised that she can talk to the animals.
Estrogen is linked with verbal skills, intuition, and the ability to read faces, postures, gestures, and tone of voice. All evolved to enable women to communicate with pre-verbal infants, even animals. Wonder Woman has these elevated estrogen qualities in spades.
Yet Wonder Woman is no doormat. She is highly independent, like many women. Moreover, with her social skills, she can be cunning. And she will fight. Indeed, when protecting their young, women can become far more dangerous than just about any man.
Wonder Woman seems to regard all good humans as her children. It is this genuine warrior spirit within a beautiful, tender-hearted woman that makes her the embodiment of all high-estrogen women–and a mythic creature to most men.
Superman and Wonder Woman are a classic match, the very high testosterone male and the very high estrogen female.
And they have many cultural and biological traits that will fuel their romance. People tend to fall in love with those of the same background.
Although Superman comes from a different planet, while Wonder Woman harks from an isolated island, both are aliens to our modern world. Both also have superhuman powers so each will understand the other’s strengths–including their mutual ability to fly. More importantly, Superman and Wonder Woman share the same values and goals–essentials to a good relationship.
They are both dedicated to truth and justice; both dislike wasting time on irrelevant, trivial, or boring matters; and both fight evil to save the good—traits shared by both the high testosterone and high estrogen types. Moreover, both value personal autonomy.
Each will find someone who is just as independent as themselves.
If their first kiss is novel and exciting, it might push Superman and Wonder Woman over the threshold toward falling in love.
A kiss is just a kiss? No way! A great first kiss can be thrilling—and trigger feelings of intense romantic love, due to the way the brain responds to novelty. Any kind of unique situation triggers the dopamine system. And dopamine is associated with feelings of romance.
The first kiss could also trigger sexual desire. Saliva has traces of testosterone, and men regularly like sloppier kisses, perhaps to transfer some of this male hormone and heighten the woman’s sexual response. Moreover, a woman’s breath and saliva change across her menstrual cycle, so with his sloppier kisses, a man may also be unconsciously trying to pick up this subtle hint of her fertility.
Is Superman a sloppy kisser? Perhaps we’ll find out.
In fact, the first kiss can be dangerous. In a study of 58 men and 122 women, 59% of men and 66% of women said that they had ended a romance after the first kiss. It was the kiss of death. Because as you kiss, you can see your partner clearly, as well as smell, taste, hear, and feel them.
Instantly these messages from your senses are picked up by five of your twelve cranial nerves and escorted directly to the brain. Here they detonate, providing vivid data about the person’s health, their eating, drinking, and smoking habits, and their state of mind–whether they are rough and impatient or tender and calm.
But if Superman and Wonder Woman like their first kiss, and turn into lovers, their kisses may trigger even deeper feelings for one another. Kissing among long-term partners raises oxytocin activity in the brain, producing feelings of trust and attachment.
Kissing a familiar partner also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, contributing to this brain bath of pleasure, connection, and relaxation.
So kissing can trigger any one of three basic brain systems that humanity has evolved for mating and reproduction: romantic love, the sex drive, and/or feelings of deep attachment. And as Superman and Wonder Woman have their first kiss, they embark on one of Nature’s oldest—and most exciting–journeys.
A kiss is far more than just a kiss, it’s nature’s way to start a partnership.
But even Superman and Wonder Woman will have their problems.
She is a warrior, ready to kill her foes; he has killed and resolved never to kill again. Neither is likely to understand this fundamental difference in values.
Nevertheless, this is a natural complementary match.
Directors such as Superman want a mate who has the strength of character to stand up to their formidable personality. In Wonder Woman, the charming warrior, he has found his match. And in Superman, Wonder Woman will find a truly “good man.
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Helen Fisher Ph.D., is a biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and Chief Scientific Advisor to the dating site Match. She is the author of the book The Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, among other titles.
This article was originally published at DR, Helen Fisher’s blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.