Unfortunately the result of oxytocin release in men is not only to make them feel less attached after sex than the woman, but often even completely DE-tached. So all of a sudden we have the scientific reason why ‘HE’ is suddenly too busy to see or even call you, ladies, and maybe even avoid you, after a one-night stand. Even more unfortunately, in true mirror-image, women are flooded with all sorts of other chemicals in addition to oxytocin – well we always were more complicated, according to men, magazines and our mothers… PEA or Phenylethylamine, and other chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin also surge in a woman’s bloodstream after sex, often resulting in deeply-felt attachment - and being desperate for more affection. The cuddle syndrome: oh dear!
So if men and women’s reactions are so different after sex, how and when do sex and love co-exist – or in fact when does sex play a positive part in engendering love? The answer lies in yet other clever little chemicals: endorphins. Hey, this design package is really good; I wonder who ever thought it up? (That is a rhetorical question…)
Over time, the emotional bond of sharing and caring ensures that endorphins – the chemicals responsible for long-term bonding - are also released to complement that little varmint and trouble maker, oxytocin.
So let’s answer those questions we started with.
Q: How do we - men and women, that is - fall in love?
A: Over time and with reciprocal sharing and caring, with a bit of help from our best friends, the empathetic endorphins.
Q: What role does sex play in falling in love?
A: Not the major one… it’s a bit part at best – and a supplementary role.
Now all this is great, but why did the man and woman appear to swap roles in my tale? It was the woman who was detached and spreading it around and the guy who was infatuated. It brings us to that final supplementary question:
Q: Do men and women think and respond sexually all that differently after all?
A: Well, yes in a straightforward physical way, but add in a bit of time and effort and it’s interesting that when surveyed the main type of response from a guy when asked how important sex was to him was this,
‘A guy wants to feel like he’s significant to a woman and that she likes him so much that he is special enough to share something as intimate as sex with him.’ (Chapter 11 - The Strategy: Single and don’t want to be?)
We don’t always play out our ‘roles’ as people assume we will. Men are sensitive and emotional too. Women can be hard-hearted and put up barricades when they want. I didn’t tell you initially that the lady in question was in ‘break-up denial’ and thought that playing the field was the way to avoid heartache but sadly ended up on her own as both guys got fed up in the end. Rather points to the way forward for all of us perhaps?