Sexual fantasies are something we rarely discuss, even among good friends. Our deepest sexual thoughts are often considered too weird, perverse, or just plain wrong to be shared amongst polite company; fantasizing might indicate there is something wrong with our relationships, or worse, ourselves. But research indicates that having sexual fantasies is an absolutely normal, if not necessary, part of being a sexual being. It's not having them that is aberrant.
On May 18, neuroscientist Lucy Brown appeared on the Today show revealing her new brain scan that can decipher whether someone is in love with their spouse. To test this, she scanned the brain of A.J. Jacobs, an editor-at-large at Esquire. Three different brain systems were scanned that measured lust, romance and attachment, and it is the combination of these feelings, Brown asserts, that form love. For each scan Jacobs looked at different pictures of his wife in order to measure his different feelings for her. According to Brown, we feel lust for those we're attracted to, which can be anyone, and is the basis of reproduction. Romance is what draws us into a relationship with a specific person and when love is first felt. Attachment is how committed a person is to raising a family with their spouse. When scanning Jacobs, it was found that he still had a strong attraction to his wife, but felt very little romance toward her. His feelings of attachment mirorred his feelings of lust. These results illustrate that the first intense feelings of love and romance had dissolved but that he still was attracted to her and felt a strong desire to raise their family together. Read: Decoding Love: Forget Romance, Embrace Science
This is what we've known from the get-go: that the pill is good for people who want to avoid babies and menstrual cramps. This is what we've learned in the years since: that the pill is not so good for people who are scared of developing blood clots and dying of a stroke. But this is what you might be surprised to hear: that the pill can play a role in everything from how we lose our hair to what we choose to eat. Below, a list of eight facts you might never have come across about the pill, courtesy of LiveScience and our own YourTango archives.
Men and women evolved different brains over millions of years, because of necessity. Men chased down food for their families and provided protection. Women cared for the young and old, and provided a nurturing environment. Because of these different roles, the sexes evolved to process information differently, think in radically different ways, expect different things, and have different perceptions, beliefs and behaviors. In the last forty years, as the gender roles in our society have been blurred, both males and females have become more and more confused as to what is normal behavior. We expect our partners to be able to read our minds and think as we think. Unfortunately, we are just not wired that way. Reprinted from the book Sex on the Brain by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Copyright © 2007 by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Published by Harmony Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
A new study published in the March issue of the Review of General Psychology found that a surprisingly high number of long-term couples, including some who had been married over 20 years, reported that they still felt deeply in love with their partners. The researchers draw a distinction between romantic love and passionate love. "Romantic love," the researchers say, "has the same intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry as passionate love has, but without the obsession. Passionate love, on the other hand, includes feelings of uncertainty and anxiety." Well, if that’s the case, I’ll take romance over passion any day. According to the researchers, there are some "tricks" to making that romantic kind of love endure for the long-term.
What is it exactly about receiving a bouquet of flowers that's so heartwarming? For practical purposes, the already decaying plants will wither into an eyesore within a week of reception. Yet, research shows gifting flowers—moreso than things like candles or fruit baskets—to be a surefire way to improve someone's mood. So, which came first: the flowers or the mood-altering trance they hold on us?
Anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love by Understanding Your Personality Type, says that understanding your personality type can help you navigate the dating waters. Using genetics and neurochemistry Fisher identified four types: about Explorer, Builder, Negotiator and Director. Which are you?
Female sexuality isn't well understood, even by scientists: examining the biology of arousal. Meredith Chivers uses evolutionary biology to explain why women's bodies and minds are turned on by different things. Lisa Diamond believes that women's sexuality is much more flexible than is generally understood, and that women are more turned on by emotional intimacy. Marta Meana works on the theory that female lust hinges on narcissism—that is, being desired. Are any of them right? No one knows.
When my shrink told me I seek out men like my father, I thought she just meant men who are psychologically similar! But it turns out scientists have discovered both men and women are physically attracted to partners who resemble their opposite-sex parent. The "sexual imprinting" study performed by the University of Pecs in Hungary examined 52 families of married couples and notes similar facial characteristics among wives and mothers-in-law, as well as husbands and fathers-in-law; the men had similar noses and eyes, whereas the women had similar lips and jaws. Score one for the Oedipus complex theory.
As much as we poke, prod and dissect them, relationships are not, nor ever will be, an exact science. Yet a group of YouTube-happy, lovelorn men have joined forces online in order to promote their own scientific theory on love, which they call "True Forced Loneliness." TFL is a condition affecting innocent souls longing for love who have been socially rejected and thereby prevented from ever finding a wife, boyfriend, what have you.