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Chemistry important in bonding and in love

Neil Rosenthal /Special to the Daily

Which statements about sexual chemistry fit your life experiences the closest?

a. Chemistry is one of those mysterious elements that simply cannot be defined. If chemistry isn’t there, nothing can put it there.

b. Lust and chemical attraction is something one grows out of as one gets wiser and older. Instead, I look for the personality under all those all those looks.

c. I can instantly see a guy is sexy and think “Oh, boy … yum, yum,” but it never goes beyond that because I am aware of being led by lust instead of by love, and I know which is more important.

d. Too many couples fall into sexual situations out of loneliness or pure biology, and now they’re in a committed relationship because of sexual habit or need – thinking they’re in love.

e. In dating, I know almost immediately if I feel any sexual attraction toward a woman. When we meet, it’s either there or it’s not.

f. Chemistry can grow and develop over time. Sometimes you may need to get to know someone first before you realize how attracted you are to him or her.

These statements, all taken from readers who have written to this columnist, illustrate various facets and attitudes of chemistry: mainly that reasonable people define, value or experience it very differently.

Most men and women – single, married or divorced – see chemical attraction as important and even necessary in order to bond, fall in love and have a vital, passionate, intimate relationship.

Falling in love is usually spurred by strong sexual arousal and desire. Especially in the beginning of a relationship, the chemistry of sexual attraction, desire and love occurs when the brain produces amphetamine-like chemicals that make people feel giddy and romantic. These naturally produced chemicals can keep two people sexually aroused and wildly desirous of each other for periods that can for some last only weeks, while for others it can last for several years.

One of these chemicals, phenylethylamine, also appears naturally in chocolate, which is why some people, when they fall out of love or lose a relationship, crave more chocolate.

After a period of time in a relationship, the amphetamine high of arousal and desire fades, and our brain then produces morphine-like chemicals that create strong feelings of attachment and peacefulness, which gives us the sense of feeling content, secure and stable with each other.

But there is some research to suggest that, over time, our brains may become immune to these morphine-like chemicals, which is why some people who are seemingly happy and stable in their marriages seek out an affair with someone new. They apparently cannot stand the tedium of sameness, and therefore seek out novelty. This new sexual liaison presumably creates the amphetamine high that arousal triggers in the beginning of a relationship.

In order for a new couple to bond and form the basis for a long-term, stable, committed relationship, the two people must find or create a common vision for the future.

They will do that by slowly getting to know each other better, revealing their inner selves, secrets, hopes, dreams, fears, sensitivities and so on – as well as tying their lives, friends, families, major decisions, challenges, crises, stresses and their futures together.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777 or e-mail at his Web site http://www.heartrelationships.com


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