You know how we already talked about the bonding that happens when two people have sex? About how one of the primary purposes of sex is to create a strong and lasting BOND? You know, the til-death-do-us-part kind of connection.
During physical contact, a woman’s brain releases the hormone oxytocin—sometimes called the “cuddle hormone”—which produces feelings of closeness, trust and yes, bonding. During sex oxytocin floods the brain causing the desire for this intimate experience to happen again. This same hormone is present at the onset of labor and when breastfeeding, again, to create a bond—this time between a mother and her newborn baby.
Close contact and physical intimacy cause a man’s brain to secrete the hormone vasopressin—known as the “monogamy hormone”–as in committed to one person. It triggers a feeling of attachment to the woman he’s intimately involved with and later also aids in bonding a father to his children.
Both men and women’s brains produce addictive doses of the pleasure hormone dopamine during physical intimacy. Known as the “feel good” or “reward” hormone, dopamine rages through the brain with an intense sensation of energy and exhilaration. It initiates a need and/or desire to repeat the pleasurable, exciting sexual experiences.
Closeness. Trust. Attachment. Totally awesome, even crucial, in a marriage relationship. No question about it, these are key ingredients to a strong marriage.
But maybe not so great in a dating relationship. Because if this hormone induced trust and attachment happens to soon—before a person’s priorities and goals, values and beliefs are uncovered—these strong ties can cloud judgment, often keeping people in a relationship that needs to end. Wise decision making flies out the window in favor of feeding the desire for intimate closeness.
And if we’re talking a casual hook-up or one-night stand, wow. A flood of bonding hormones is a really, really bad idea.
The thing you have to understand is this: these amazingly awesome hormones can’t distinguish between a hook-up and a lifelong soul mate. Triggered by any physical intimacy, they get down to business regardless of the realities of the relationship—even if there’s not a relationship at all.
This whole chemical process creates an adhesive effect, kind of like glue. Again, an amazing thing in a marriage. Those bonds knit together by hormones raging through the brain are meant to keep a couple together through thick and thin, the good times and the really rotten stuff. Through years of sharing a life. If that doesn’t convince you the very design for sex was intended for the lifelong commitment of marriage—and nothing less—then … what will convince you?
But rip these glued persons apart when they go their separate ways in a couple weeks, months or years, and we’re talking major pain and devastation. Deeply emotional, gut-wrenching pain. Repeated bonding and ripping apart messes with the brain’s ability to create lasting connections. Which completely blows holes in the I’ll-settle-down-when-I’m-done-having-fun theory. Treating sex with such a casual attitude doesn’t make it a casual experience. It was never intended to be the no-strings-attached experience so many treat it as.
BUT I ALREADY DIDN’T WAIT!!
Don’t beat yourself up about it. You can’t change the past. But you can learn from it. And you sure as heck don’t have to repeat it.
Now that you understand the whole brain sex connection, I hope you’ll be convinced to stop the bonding of hearts and bodies with anyone to whom you’re not committed to in marriage.
Stop buying the lies that sex equals love. Or that everyone is doing it.
That you can’t change. Or that it really doesn’t matter anymore.
That you don’t deserve more and better.
Because you do deserve better. Your choices about sex matter. They matter sooooooooooo very much.
If bonding and breaking up—whether it be once or fifty times—has left you scarred and hurting, wondering where to go from here, stop and take a deep breath. Distance yourself from all physically intimate relationships then take some time to evaluate your life. But don’t go it alone. Seek the support of a friend, parent, teacher, pastor, coach—someone with whom you can share honestly. Someone who will walk along this new path with you.
Premarital sex often leaves baggage in the form of low self-esteem, confusion, depression and a host of other mental and emotional issues. If past choices are interfering with living your life, seek professional help from a counselor, a nurse, a doctor, a minister. If the thought of suicide even whispers through your brain, tell someone immediately. You don’t have to let past mistakes rob you of a promising future.
Right now, vow to save all or any additional sexual experience for your future spouse. Save those amazing bonding hormones for the right time and place–marriage. Because you are worth waiting for.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org OR post a comment on your thoughts about saving sex for marriage OR what you’d like to see discussed on this blog. I’d love to hear from YOU!
For more information on the brain/sex connection, check out this book –