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Dating From the Inside Out
The Biology of
Everyone has heard of it before: “the
ticking of the biological clock.” Those words
can usually be very frustrating for both men and women.
Women feel a sense of urgency to procreate before the
ability ceases to exist, while men often feel like
they’re being pressured into something they’re
not ready for, don’t, or never even wanted. For
many potential couples, it can be the deal breaker
of the century.
No matter how hard we try to be analytical about attraction,
love and romance, the fact of the matter is, we are
mammals, we are human, and we all have physical impulses
that contribute to what level of attraction we will
have with a potential partner.
Add to that, the fact that evolutionary biologists
have determined that our relationships are predisposed
to self-destruction, and it is a wonder how any couple
stays in tact. The duration of romantic love, from
the moment of infatuation to the time when neutrality
sets in has been estimated to be a mere 18 months to
three years. Not surprisingly, most divorces occur
in year four. Hopefully, a relationship has a chance
to escape these fates, but the divorce rate currently
stands at 50%, while the percentage of those who never
marry is rising sharply.
If you’ve ever fallen in love with total abandon,
experienced wonderful, powerful chemistry and then
felt a strange anxiety and separation developing between
you and your partner, you know that it isn’t
a welcome experience. This particular pattern may have
repeated itself on more than one occasion. This could
be a chemical reaction in order to recover from the “pleasure/reward” stimulation
of dopamine, since too much of it can cause nerve damage.
The Biology of Love
Biology, working against us, continues to persuade
us to ruin perfectly good relationships in pursuit
of its procreation goals. The basic neurochemical reward
for engaging in passionate sex is a blast of dopamine
to the “pleasure/reward” center of the “primitive
brain.” In rat studies, the mechanism has been
known to work so well that it’s been found that
allowing a rat to stimulate the “pleasure/reward” part
of its brain without constraint, it can “delight” itself
to death without even stopping to eat.
Based on the above, can we then surmise that biology
really serves our best survival interests when it encourages
that sort of chemically addictive scenario? It has
now been argued that this compelling, chemical reward
mechanism that worked well for distant forbearers in
relation to the scarcity of food and sex, now actually
creates havoc in the modern world. It may be precisely
what is behind other social addictions such as gambling,
food, alcohol and drug excesses, obesity, and the like.
So, what does all this have to do with dating in general?
Well, it can add to the complex nature of how people
interact with one another and the openness of an individual.
If someone has been “burned” psychologically
due to the “love hangovers” they experience,
it may make them less likely to jump right in for more,
even in a new situation. One common term is “baggage.” Both
men and women risk the chance of difficulty dealing
with the high/low chemical cycle that comes along with
powerful that can make relationships and the pursuit
thereof more difficult and stressful than joyful and
Often, people tend to blame previous, current and even
potential partners for the distress of prior neuro-chemical
compulsion. The tendency can worsen over time, as the
subconscious associates the initial pleasures with
post-pleasure relationship issues.
Another drawback to the high/low syndrome of neuro-chemical
compulsion seems to include coping by constantly changing
partners or resigning to an asexual existence and emotional
Fortunately, usually the benefits that accompany open-heartedness
that includes appreciation, giving, caring and closeness
far exceed the risk. On the upside, an improved hormonal
balance can strengthen immunity to disease, regenerates
cells, frees arteries of cholesterol and helps maintain
In short, harmonious relationships offer far greater
rewards than biology’s mere empty disadvantages.
Even when it is clear that we are headed to a destination
we don’t like, we have the power to choose between
abstinence and the thrill of intimate union. The answer
lies in a middle path for sexual expression that’s
been around for the ages, such as those found in Taoist,
Tantric and even pre-Roman (Gnostic) Christian texts.
But few have experimented with those paths since society
has been under biology’s spell for so long.
The key is to find the balance in your own life that
makes you feel comfortable, rather than compromising
your own reality just to be considered “normal,” or
accepting someone else’s standard in that regard.
This can be done with respect for all parties involved.
As long as your intentions are out in the open, you
can develop your own strategy that will allow you to
enjoy your physical and romantic life at the level
If you’re consistent, you’re likely to
discover a reconnection with yourself and those around
you such that an equilibrium will develop and benefit
you in other areas of your life. You’ll have
more energy and can pursue your goals more efficiently.
So, if you want to garner new prospects and/or protect
a budding relationship from biology’s trickery,
try to develop a strategy that is unique to you. Resist
the temptation to follow what the media and society
tell you to do. Not only will this put you in a power
position, as a result, you just may discover the deeper
rewards of lasting intimacy, from a very ancient source.
Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer,
currently doing research for a romantic screenplay
she is writing. Her Dating
From The Inside Out column
is published every Tuesday.
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