with No Comments

Post No.: 0747lust

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

As a broad generation regarding romantic relationships – lust evolved for having the drive to want sex, which has the primary purpose of reproducing offspring, because humans reproduce sexually; and romantic love evolved for getting a couple to stick around to raise any offspring together, because human babies are wholly dependent on others and need raising otherwise they’ll easily and quickly perish way before they reach the age they can reproduce themselves. There may be by-product effects like having sex that deliberately isn’t for reproduction (recreational sex), or other benefits like couples sticking around together even after the children have flown the nest and the female has reached menopause – but the above are arguably the core evolutionary reasons for lust and romantic love.

 

If humans, as a whole, didn’t experience this strong urge to mate once they became physiologically able to procreate after puberty then the human species would’ve fizzled out. (Not that this urge is therefore by ‘intentional and intelligent design from above’ because if humans didn’t exist then the rest of the animal kingdom of sexually-reproducing animals that do feel strong urges to mate would’ve carried on without the human species; like it did during the time of the non-avian dinosaurs millions of years ago, and perhaps like it will millions of years from now if this planet will still bear life.)

 

So lust and love are different states. Lust is chiefly rooted in physical and sexual intimacy, whereas love is chiefly rooted in emotional, spiritual and mental intimacy. Some posit that lust is therefore about wanting to take, while love is about wanting to give. Indeed love can of course exist outside of intimate, romantic contexts too (e.g. loving a fluffy pet), whilst lust is always sexual. And some people lack any feelings of sexual attraction to others even though they may still feel love i.e. asexual people. Aromantic and aroace (aromantic asexual) people exist too. However, the states of love and lust for the same person can simultaneously co-exist, like at the start of a relationship.

 

They are different in their oxytocin release. Lust lasts for about one month to three years maximum. When we fancy someone, we view them and all they do with rose-tinted glasses on. It’s like we can only see the best in them, or at least their foibles are more easily overlooked. Even the little bad habits they do can appear endearing! (And possibly even their subtle coercive, controlling behaviours in more sinister cases.)

 

But once the lustful feelings fade, or especially if things turn sour in the relationship, those same mannerisms instantly become annoying and we can even reconstruct our past memories with them with a darker filter. You’ll know when those ‘cute’ little ‘beguiling’ things your partner does start to become grating! Lust for most generally biases towards a skin-deep attraction, whereas love requires a much deeper kind of attraction to be sustainable.

 

With lust, more androgens and dopamine are released in our brains. The former raises our libido and the latter can give the effect of us feeling addicted or obsessed with our partner. Noradrenaline/norepinephrine, which are associated with the stress response, make our hearts flutter, palms sweaty and breathing faster. But here this stress is about excitement – a readiness for something anticipated as good. Orgasms release serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and opioids. In these amounts, these make us feel pleasure and increase the feelings of bonding. In my view, knowing all this doesn’t tame the magic and wonder of love, nor the experienced reality of the tempestuous rollercoaster of heady emotions of lust!

 

Our first crush, or puppy love, is our first learning experience of lust. Good judgement can easily fail in the midst of intense lust though, as amygdala and prefrontal-cortex activity decreases. It’s perhaps thus a risk to marry someone too quickly. Sometimes whom you lust for isn’t the right or best person for you in a long-term relationship but it’s difficult to see this clearly when your body is swimming in an explosive cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters. So expect some crashing realisations of incompatibility and then break-ups once you start to cease to overlook those less-than-ideal traits of the person you’re with. If it takes some time before you learn from personal experience the difference between lust and love then you may end up constantly jumping in and out from one short-term relationship to another that’s based too overwhelmingly on physical attraction – sometimes by on-off breaking-up then making-up for repeatedly finding someone untenable then giving them another go – if we’re not feeling jaded by then. Our instincts can be easily manipulated by skin-deep charms and looks. Is this cupid or the devil at work?!

 

Even though love is mostly considered a subject of the ‘heart’, and although it’s easier said than done – it’s wise to be able to take a step back and think with your ‘head’ once in a while. A sustainable love feels right for both the heart and head – to both instincts and considered sense. Yet for many of us – unless we’re lucky and one of the first people we lust for and manage to date happens to also be deeply compatible with us too – lessons in romance seemingly must be learnt the hard way! And that’s life I guess.

 

Possibly to make the mutual pair-bond happen – oxytocin rises, and trust, care and devotion grows, as the balance between lust and love shifts more towards love and monogamy. This isn’t to say what ‘ought’ to be for humans or for any other creatures, but social monogamy, or the long-term loyalty to one partner, isn’t exclusive to humans – it exists amongst wild animals in nature too; mostly with birds but also with certain species of mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and more. Polygamy works for some people and that’s fine, but for most people – wouldn’t a relationship feel less special if it weren’t exclusive?

 

In fact, if your eyes wander from your partner then it may be a sign you’re no longer deeply in love with them because oxytocin appears to makes us bond with someone at the exclusion of other potential mates. When deeply in intimate love, we have only eyes for one individual and won’t be interested in anyone else – sometimes even to the point of being quite seriously protective and/or possessive of them from competitors, and quite seriously aloof to other potential mates for oneself. One-and-one pair-bonding is evolutionarily important for raising biological children, and oxytocin is the main hormone that bonds.

 

Love can last a lifetime but don’t expect the lust-driven, madly deeply, passionate kind of feelings to last for more than a few years. A normal relationship will, or should, enter a companionship kind of state. It’s still intimate but it’s a state that’s more sustainable for raising children and a family. Rapport increases and couples will tune into each other, and although lust has cooled now, compassion develops as long as we continue to touch, empathise, care, devote loyally and feel safe together.

 

But never take this love for granted – continue to try new things from time to time, maintain a strong support system, share values, be fair, kind, and possibly maintain your ‘positive illusions’ about each other (a ‘love blindness’ to their minor flaws). Communicate constantly – keep listening, with intention, to your partner’s needs, honour their boundaries, and share your vulnerable feelings while giving your partner space to share theirs. Love needs to be continually conscientiously worked at by both partners mutually and roughly equally. If it’s not worked at then the bond will gradually fail. If one thinks that ‘the stars’ will decide the longevity of the relationship then desire will naturally drop since a drop in investment will result in a drop in the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters associated with love.

 

Post No.: 0432 explored ways to keep a romantic relationship feeling fresh!

 

So love and the relationship needs to be continually nurtured because it’s not unconditional – it’s conditional upon the effort put into it. Maybe, in terms of successfully propagating one’s genes (or really a random 50% of one’s genes each time) onto the next generation – pair-bonds only really need to last until a child has been successfully raised until they themselves have children of their own, thus it matters little from an oversimplistic ‘selfish gene’ perspective if couples do split up, or even develop diseases that are hereditary, and die, afterwards. However, there can be evolutionary benefits for pair-bonds to last long after that – after all, couples can have multiple children until they want no more, and then after they want no more, there are many advantages to staying together as a couple and a family (e.g. to help look after any biological grandchildren).

 

Therefore constantly renew and cultivate your love and don’t take it or anything of each other for granted as if ‘it’ll naturally last forever’ without conscious work. So many mid-term to long-term couples forget to continually share positive emotions with each other on a daily basis, to spend time to synchronise at a deeper level, and to invest in each other. Love is a renewable resource so top it up every day by reaching out for a hug, sharing a laugh, giving loving eye contact, physically spending time together and talking in real-time. Seek opportunities for cooperative silliness, give non-verbal signs of oneness, make reasons to touch and/or be in sync, and do new, exciting or light-hearted things together (dancing or canoeing is better than watching a movie or going out for dinner). Turn unlikely moments into a shared history, tease, flirt, joke, laugh, create intimate, tender moments, take time to appreciate moments of mutual awe together, say thank yous, deescalate conflicts and ultimately make sure the positive moments always vastly outnumber the negative moments. Woof!

 

There are many parallels between international diplomacy and maintaining a strong personal relationship – such as the relationship needs ongoing work rather than thinking that one-off gestures or agreements are enough, ensuring that the dialogue continues rather than boycotting or stonewalling each other, maintaining one’s cool despite the hour of the day, listening to alternative views, reaching compromises, expressing empathy, patience, and understanding that delaying and buying time might be the best tactic before anyone does something rash and regretful. And although it’s often said that fighting is the result of the failure of diplomacy, it doesn’t mean that the chance for diplomacy to work is ever over, even if the fighting has begun. Even if the parties agree to disagree – any misunderstandings will be reduced and our appreciation of the other party’s point of view will be enhanced.

 

Although it inevitably involves a little bit of compromise, true love is not about compromise; any more than eating is about consuming some burnt meals now and again. It’s about acceptance, security, harmony and a commitment to removing feelings of judgement, so that a strong family, or just a lasting pair-bond, unit can be built upon it.

 

Woof!

 

Comment on this post by replying to this tweet:

 

Share this post