Why do you keep picking the “wrong” guys?
I can answer that in one crisp sentence: You’re trying to force your lust into a relationship.
Nan Wise, a non-traditional therapist/coach, professor and neuroscience researcher--and one of the women I most admire-- developed an elegant and sophisticated tool for understanding desire (or lust). The Desire Curve may be the most useful piece of applied neuroscience you ever encounter. Once you “get it,” you realize: Omigod, what I thought was love (or the reverse, falling out of love) was just my brain on drugs.
The Desire Curve begins at your Desire Set Point,--the amount of sex you naturally crave whether you have a regular partner or not--rises to the thrill of New Relationship Euphoria (NREU), then settles back to Desire Set Point. NREU lasts from eighteen months to three years. We typically commit while on that high.
“The misconceptions about desire are appalling,” Nan says. “We make decisions based on desire without understanding the Desire Curve where NREU is the high point, not the natural state of being. When we come down to the Desire Set Point, we’re disappointed and blame our lover, the relationship,“
It’s not unusual for a man or woman with a low desire set point to mate with a partner whose set point is higher. In the throes of new passion, they don’t realize how mismatched their sex drives are. That partner with a low desire set point suddenly wants more sex than he or she typically does—and foolishly, of course, ascribes the rise of libido to true love and the fall of libido to the loss of it.
What’s really happening in that hot relationship if it isn’t love?
Also called “limerance”, NREU, is a chemical high. The first neurotransmitter chemical firing off in your brain when you are strongly attracted to someone new is phenylethylamine, PEA. A natural form of amphetamine, it floods the regions of the brain influencing sexual arousal. (Now you know the true meaning of the terms “love addict” and “love junkie”.) Norepinephrine, a second euphoria-inducing chemical kicks in and stimulates the release of adrenaline causing your blood pressure to shoot up when you see or touch your beloved. PEA releases dopamine—the body’s “feel good” neurochemical— which helps to stimulate the production of Oxytocin, dubbed the “cuddle chemical” because it encourages bonding and attachment. This powerful cocktail of brain chemicals creates a state of euphoria in the new lovers. Intercourse and orgasm intensify the Oxytocin production. That is not love—it’s a neurochemical high.
Here’s how NREU gives you the big kick:
Sex, especially if it includes intercourse and orgasm, adds large amounts of the attachment chemical oxytocin to the rush of neurochemicals already bathing her fevered brain.
Women are more affected by oxytocin then men because it works in concert with estrogen and is somewhat subdued by testosterone.
Intercourse produces more oxytocin in women than cunnilingus or other sex acts.
What can you do when the thrill is gone?
Forget Hot Monogamy. It’s a lie. You cannot sustain a NREU high throughout the decades. You can, however, create peaks in your valleys--a pattern of undulating waves of desire. (Now that you understand the Desire Curve, you can relax and be grateful for the natural hormonal cycles that make you crave again.)
Here are some suggestions for creating the peaks:
Break sexual habits.
Habituation is deadly in a sexual relationship. You have to shake it up. Learn some new tricks.
Get physical (as in exercise) with your partner.
Do what scares you a little.
Try anal sex. Visit a nude beach. Let your secret “top” or “bottom” come out. Make sexual demands. Go to a swing club. Take some risks and get your adrenaline pumping. (Your brain needs a new chemical kick.)
- Have a secret sex life.
Masturbation. Fantasies. Sex parties or swining. A flirtation, fling or affair with someone else. The compulsion to tell your partner everything is annoyingly American and erotically
Read more about The Desire Curve in The Sex Bible for Women.
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