Chemistry, desire, monogamy, and infidelity are intertwined in such a strange way. I have personally felt every which way about all of them, though I haven’t practiced every which way. As I grow up more I understand the care and consideration life takes. Considering these topics lately has led me to some personal truths.
For so long I was angry and hurt by a cheater. I thought (dramatically), “How could he?” Then I came into the acceptance that people are people. They can only behave the way they are programed to be. Each person can only be the type of human they know how to be. That was his journey, and I just got caught on the receiving end of some bullshit. Now, I am feeling a new type of release on this whole topic.
I read a few articles about the brain chemistry of love and lust. When you are in love with someone your brain releases more oxytocin into your system. Oxytocin has been nicknamed the “cuddle chemical” and apparently also the “moral molecule” and it actually increases over time in long-term relationships. The influx of oxytocin “makes” you monogamous? You see an attractive person, and your brain actually gives you the chemical reaction of consideration! To consider the desire, or what the action of giving into your natural desire could do to the person you love.
Dopamine on the other hand, is the happy chemical your brain releases for short-term peaks or climax’s (if you will). Dopamine is the “feel-good” chemical, no wonder it is the reason for all addiction. Dopamine gets pumped into your brain when your senses are excited. If you see, hear, smell, touch or taste something pleasing to you, you receive a flood on dopamine in your brain. Risk-taking is also something that releases dopamine. Risks like gambling, speed-sports, auditioning for something, talking to someone you find very pleasing.
So, short-term you may be attracted to someone, and that’s the dopamine experience, but then the thought of your partner, the touch, a kiss from your partner releases the oxytocin so you may check ya-self before you wreck ya-self . Amazing.
But why doesn’t this always work?
What I have been pondering is the chemistry of it all. There are sexy people all over the place (especially if you live in West Hollywood like I do at the moment), but that doesn’t mean there is obligatory chemistry between two sexy people JUST because they are both sexually appealing. Not every fuckable guy, has that je ne sais quoi that signals sparks.
And what of the sparks? Why is it possible to feel obvious, even primal chemistry with someone if you are committed and very much in-love with someone else? Loaded with oxytocin for your partner, would never want to hurt them, but find yourself thinking,
“Daayuumn, I would love to be up against a shower wall by so-and-so”
Having had this experience myself, I am lead to reconsider my opinion and judgments on cheaters and monogamy, and polygamy and the whole lot.
1. I realize all situations, relationships, personalities and the like are different, BUT, I feel I have more forgiveness for the ex who cheated. Or at least I feel more released about the experience of having felt betrayed. Being attracted to someone, when there is real chemistry between you, is difficult to deny. If you are not a certain type of partner, or don’t really want commitment, or have an addictive personality then straying is easy. It’s even natural; loyalty is the one that takes conscious practice. Nature just wants us wired for procreation, and socially and culturally speaking, there are a lot of issues with that.
2. I don’t think humans are innately wired to have just one partner. I think monogamy is a cultural thing rather than a genetic or biological thing. I would not cheat on my partner because it is not part of our agreement as partners to invite others into the fold. I am happy with him and wouldn’t want another man sharing my life like we share our lives. But there is a primal, uninhibited, un-indoctrinated sexual being in me who has recognized that it is possible to feel sparks for someone that my rational mind has no interest in pursuing because of the damage it could cause, but your natural mind tells you to “go ahead just take one hit, I promise you’ll enjoy it.” But like drugs and all other addictions, once dopamine hits its mark, the prolactin seeps in and the comedown is real; The blaring truth of your actions get real.
3. The last thing I am pondering on is the absence of your beloved, and how it directly effects your chemicals. Prolonged long distance causes shifts and rifts and changes. Little physical contact and connection, means less floods of happy chemicals. The stress and heart break of departing from each other constantly raises cortisol levels. Heightened stress hormones make you sick and sad, none of this is good. Does the domino effect of all this mean that your actual levels of oxytocin can scientifically diminish over time because of these chemical variables?
I think my dopamine receptors are engaged from writing this all out (and from smoking while I write). It’s all such a funny thing, this human experience.
It’s also funny that we say we have “chemistry” with some one, and it actually IS chemistry?!
Oh, to be a spiritual being in human form.