Why Does Sex Create Attachment? The Science Behind Sex & Feelings Of Love
Sex has made me do some dumb things over the years. Including ending up in relationship I didn't plan, simply because I got attached when we hooked up. Not because the sex was so mind-blowing that I couldn't give up that sweet D, but because the sex tricked my brain into thinking he wasn't the most emotionally stunted jerk on the planet (he was). I call this phenomena: sex madness. It's when your logical brain gets taken over by your emotional mind after you bang it out with someone new. But why does sex create attachment like this? Even when you know better?
It took two long years, but eventually the logical side of my mind won the battle — and I cut his ass loose. Still, despite knowing the relationship would never work, my heart was broken. I wondered, "How could I ever feel this way about someone else?" It was all very dramatic. But it didn't take long after getting him out of my system — literally, as it turns out— for the clear vision of hindsight to reveal how totally terrible that relationship was.
Once out from under the sexual spell, I couldn't fathom why I didn't end it immediately. At first, I beat myself up about being so dumb. But it turns out, logic has nothing to do with it — it's all about the brain chemistry.
1. The Love Hormone Is Real — And It's Powerful
Are you getting attached anytime you have sex with someone new, even if you didn't really think they were relationship material before y'all got busy? Don't blame yourself; blame the oxytocin that's released during sex, flooding your post-coital body and making you want to cuddle and connect. Oxytocin also helps in forming monogamous pair bonds and creates a feeling of (unearned) trust — so, in other words, your mind is literally playing tricks on you.
Of course, because life is never fair, oxytocin is released in greater amounts in women's brains than men, which contributes to why women are more likely to catch feelings after sex — while men catch an Uber.
2. Parts Of Your Brain Literally Shut Down During Orgasm
If you've ever thought your orgasm drove you out of your mind, you're not actually that far off. As it turns out, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex actually shuts down during an orgasm. Why does this matter? “This region is considered to be the voice of reason and controls behavior," Medical Daily explains.
So, your brain shuts down and is overflowing with cuddle hormones. Yep, sounds like love to me.
3. Love Is Actually Addictive
Have you ever had that friend (or maybe that friend is you… no judgment) who seems like they are addicted to love? They jump from relationship to relationship or keep taking a partner back that is obviously no good for them. Well, they may actually be suffering from an addiction. It's called oxytocin dependency and the struggle is real. Oxytocin activates the reward center of the brain, creating a sense of euphoria. In fact, it lights up the same parts of the brain that heroin does. That cycle of reward can create a literal addiction to the neurochemical response to love. Yikes.
Well, there you have it. It's a lot less romantic when you dig into the science, but it's also a relief to know a lot of what you are feeling isn't something you can control. It's your brain and those pesky hormones doing what they've evolved to do. So while you can't stop yourself from getting attached, you can at least recognize what is happening. And knowledge (about how not to get caught up) is power.
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