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Sexual Superglue

Our culture wants us to believe sex is just a contact sport, where you just need a "condom helmet" when you go out to play.  But recent advances in technologies to study the brain are showing that sex really is a total person experience intended to be the superglue that holds two people together. 

For females, it’s about oxytocin.  During childbirth and breastfeeding, a chemical called oxytocin is produced in the brain.  This is hormone which causes Maternal Attachment (that powerful protective bond with her baby)-- it’s actually wired into her at the hormonal level.

What neuroscientists have discovered is oxytocin is also released during sexual stimulation, causing her to bond at a hormonal level.  Over time, she eventually produces oxytocin as a conditioned response whenever she sees her lover.  This obviously can lead to extremely unhealthy bonding.  It may be the reason some women stay bonded in relationships with someone who’s last intention is to bond with her.

However, oxytocin does NOT produce the same kind of chemical bonding for the guy.  Males have a very different wiring.  What happens in males is very similar to what happens with ducklings.  When a baby duck is hatches, it “imprints” on the first live thing it sees.  In other words, whatever creature they first interact with after birth, they assume it is their mother, even if it is a human. 

This is basically what FIRST-TIME SEX does to a guy.  The overwhelming new experience (caused by a different powerful hormone called dopamine) IMPRINTS on his subconscious and he connects sex to the context of his experience. 

If a boy’s first sexual experience is, say, in the backseat of a car, it is an incredibly powerful experience that is firmly impressed into his psyche.  He now associates the intense feelings of sex with risk, danger or fear.  It’s possible that, for the rest of his life, he may be constantly searching for a repeat of the thrill that has had such a profound impact on his senses.  He doesn't necessarily have any interest in the person he had sex with, he is interested in the sex.

But consider what happens, say, when a man falls in love and asks a woman to marry him.  His friends approve, his family approves, his co-workers approve.  They all come together in one gigantic celebration of their approval, gathered in the presence of their God, they commit themselves to be together for life.  On his wedding night, with the joyous approval of every person important in his life, he takes his bride to their honeymoon suite and for the first time (without the rush or fear of a back-seat encounter) he experiences the most wonderful sensation of his life.

All that approval, celebration, and most importantly, the incredible sensation he has just felt is now tied to that one girl.  Because she, and only she, is responsible for the most wonderful experience of his life.  This man has imprinted on the girl, not the sex.

Unfortunately, few men make it to adulthood now without  "imprinting" on recreational sex or pornography.  Sadly, studies show people who have multiple sexual partners BEFORE marriage are SIX times more likely to cheat after marriage.  No wonder!  A  person who hasn’t practiced sexual self-control (abstinence) before marriage, is not very likely to be able to resist temptation after marriage. 

Does that mean it’s hopeless? Is it impossible to reset our wiring?  Can a woman break down her reflexive oxytocin production?  Can a man “create” a new imprinting? 

Developing sexual self-control, learning to master sexual desires, passions and drives is difficult, but it’s not impossible. It starts with an understanding of how to avoid unhealthy sexual bonding, and making an effort to pursue healthy bonding for the benefits it will bring to your future relationships.

Once you have decided to control your passion instead of letting it control you, here are some practical things you can do.

  1. Limit your time alone.  Hang out in groups so your memories of feeling good with this person aren’t exclusively associated with them.

  2. Discuss stages of relationships BEFORE you get there.  Know what it means to you and your partner if you kiss, hold hands, meet each other’s family, exchange gifts, etc.

  3. Hold onto your secrets.  Make a conscious effort to identify things about yourself, your past, and your dreams that you want to share exclusively with your life partner.

  4. Work on relational skills.  Conflict resolution, money management, selfLESSness, common interests… all are important skills to have before you make a lifelong commitment.

  5. Practice keeping your word.  One day you’ll swear you’ll be faithful to one person… give them a reason to believe you can do it.