I am very interested in the attraction-repulsion dynamic in intimate relationships — and I am wondering what role, if any, the neurochemistry of orgasm may play. Various recent studies have demonstrated a 'fall off' in mutual attraction between intimate partners at about two years (testosterone levels diverge in men and women over that period, nerve growth factor drops off at about two years). Yet it is not uncommon for partners to experience an almost immediate desire to get away from a lover after sex. Think of Billy Crystal talking to a male friend in When Harry Met Sally, "30 seconds after I make love to woman I want to run away." I've heard similar statements from some women: "After orgasm I don't want my husband to touch me; I retreat to my side of the bed...."
This is a fascinating subject which I can't stop reading about. I've been walking around thinking I have an inside track on a vital life truth!
I very much doubt I can introduce any material to my wife without it being summarily rejected. However, my new positive attitude about the future of our relationship, and my increased love for my wife, has not gone without notice.
Because of her conditioning, she still thinks I must "only want to have (orgasmic) sex" and that the increased attention I'm paying to her now simply means I'm trying really hard to accomplish this goal. I think that, eventually, she will be pleasantly surprised to find out my feelings are not goal-directed in this way. Actually, I now find my wife to be very attractive in many more ways and I just enjoy being with her - even without sexual contact. I think I will able to patiently and gradually introduce these new concepts to her through my actions, which will eventually lead to a more trusting relationship. I'll view it as a seduction!
This is quite an exciting change in my life. I really can't thank you enough for your inspiration and for the great work you are doing tying all these concepts together in a very understandable way.
Remarks delivered at Cambridge University as part of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop, "Suicide Bombers- the psychological, religious and other imperatives"
Another name for my talk would be "How to Make Someone Hot for Martyrdom." How many of you have heard of a part of the human brain called "the reward center?" It's my thesis that none of us should be turned loose on the planet without an instruction manual for this primitive mechanism, which — among other things — impels us to mate. It's also impelling bombers from Palestine and Egypt.
Consider a recent documentary called Suicide Killers by a Frenchman, who interviewed failed Palestinian suicide bombers. These "would-be explosives" are usually young…and celibate, thanks to fundamentalist Islam. They repeatedly cite "marriage in heaven" as a chief motivation for their annihilation. Upon martyrdom they are promised 72 virgins, or, if female, they will become one of those desirable, and sacred beauties. Local newspapers report bomber's suicides as "marriages." Even their parents affirm that "better marriage" is one reason they are happy for their dead children — and quite willing to sacrifice their brothers and sisters so they can find the same happiness.
Here's how our mating neurochemistry contributes to this tragedy. This primitive part of the mammalian brain is known as the "reward center." It drives us toward the activities that helped our ancestors survive and pass on their genes. It therefore governs our mating behavior. It's treacherous for various reasons.
First, we rely on it instinctively to make decisions all day long. It tells us when to eat and drink, and which courses of action are likely to prove rewarding — hence its name. Because these urges are subconscious, they often go unexamined by our rational mind. They simply feel right, and we assume they are our will.
Second, the top priority of this center is the survival of our genes: not our wellbeing, not the happiness of our marriages, and not our moral or spiritual improvement....