Letter to Cambridge University Scientist

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Submitted by Marnia on
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Dear Professor __________:

I want to thank you again for your time, your open mind, and especially the
suggestion that a study be designed around smokers. That was a brilliant
idea,
and it feels to me like the right way to proceed, even though it does not
address the separation phenomenon directly.

I am forwarding some abstracts that my husband collected [not included here], which I
referred to during our chat. They summarize research that associates
oxytocin
with easing addictions, depression, and withdrawal symptoms. As these were the
very conditions that improved in my husband, and since we were using a
practice
that calls for lots of generous affection (associated with increased
oxytocin
levels), he and I suspect there may indeed be a link worth exploring here
for
the benefit of others.

It seems to me that we humans clearly have circuitry for bonding
indefinitely.
For example, we can typically dote upon infants and beloved pets regardless
of
their often-annoying behavior. In both cases, we also tend to care for them
selflessly (feeding, bathing, petting, etc.), with lots of affection
(oxytocin
triggers?). Nor, presumably, do we have sex with them.

On the other hand, intimate relationships almost always deteriorate despite
best
intentions and initial compatibility. Even if partners stay married,
distance
creeps into the relationship, decreasing the benefits that would otherwise
accrue from close, trusted companionship and frequent touch. This distance
may
simply seem to be due to professional demands, or child-related duties, but
it
is so common that I think we must consider the possibility that evolutionary
biology plays a role. I have been talking to people about this phenomenon
for
15 years, and once they open up and speak candidly, I am amazed at how
consistent the pattern of separation is, notwithstanding the widespread firm
conviction that undying romance is possible (for someone else or with
someone
else...).

Regardless of our romantic convictions, the existence of a "separation
pattern"
is supported by (1) the findings of anthropologists (on hunter-gatherer
societies, which I mentioned to you, and on divorce, which peaks in year 4
across 58 cultures...and even sooner in Muslim countries where divorce is
simple), (2) divorce statistics...now that divorce is easy, and (3) abundant
anecdotal evidence.

I believe the existence of "separation programming" is also supported by
recent
brain chemistry findings about the addictiveness of dopamine, and its
prominent
role in our sex lives. Addiction to one's partner during the passionate
phase of
courtship is not the glue we suppose. In fact, because dopamine sets up a
high/low cycle, I believe the passion phase sprouts the seeds of the
relationship's decay. Partners begin to project the lows onto each other,
and
subconscious uneasiness enters the relationship, promoting distance. This
pattern serves our genetic success (greater variety)...at our personal
expense.
Hence its success despite the misery it causes. As I said, I don't think
long-term pair-bonding played as important a role for our ancestors as we
imagine. Children were probably raised by extended families in tribes, so
turnover in intimate relationships was not the tragedy it is today in our
insular families.

As I mentioned, both this separation phenomenon and its correlation with
fertilization-driven sex, have been noted for thousands of years...along
with a
proposed cure. The cure does seem (at least to my husband and me) to be
calculated to keep lovers off of the dopamine roller coaster, and increase
the
production of oxytocin.

I am convinced that when humanity looks at this separation problem with open
eyes, it will find that much can be done to sustain the harmony in intimate
relationships simply by learning how to tiptoe around the triggers in the
primitive brain for impulsive sex, temporary "addiction" to a lover, and
subsequent separation. Sustaining harmony in intimate relationships will do
much to improve many aspects of society by enabling couples to stay
together,
increase wellbeing, and perhaps counter addiction and depression.

Meanwhile, however, most media, and all advertising, counsel people to seek
wellbeing in exactly the opposite direction. The message is "get more
dopamine
rushes to feel good." Even the messages in opposition are misguided. Bush,
for
example, touts abstinence, ignorance and frustration, building false
expectations about the wonders of marriage between virgins. In my view,
neither
course is as effective as helping people to understand the agendas and
mechanisms of the primitive brain and their effects upon our intimate
relationships. Only then do we see our full range of options.

I apologize for rambling on about this at such length, but I wasn't sure I
clearly articulated my thinking during our meeting.

Thanks again and best regards,

Marnia Robinson
www.reuniting.info