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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

The Biology of Love

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.

The Biology of Love

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.

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 exciting.

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 isolation.

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 ideal health.

Harmonious Relationships

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 you choose.

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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