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Oxytocin, Monogamy, and Abstinence Before Marriage

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:46 pm    Post subject: Oxytocin, Monogamy, and Abstinence Before Marriage Reply with quote

Those of us in swinging have long known that sex is very much a bonding process. Psychosexual therapist Paula Hall explains that the reason is oxytocin. It's the "bonding chemical" that is released during sex, and the amount released increases with the quality and quantity of the sex: more orgasms equal more oxytocin and, therefore, more of a sense of closeness. Better loving through chemistry.

Dr Eric Keroack, who was appointed by President Bush as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, is one of the promoters of the “theory” of oxytocin depletion: “Emotional pain causes our bodies to produce an elevated level of endorphins which in turn lowers the level of oxytocin. Therefore, relationship failure leads to pain which leads to elevated endorphins which leads to lower oxytocin, the result of which is a lower ability to bond. Many in this increased state of emotional pain and lower oxytocin seek sex as a substitute for love, which inevitably leads to another failed relationship, and so on, the cycle continues...People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual.” His conclusion from this is that everyone should abstain from sex before marriage, an argument many in the abstinence-only education movement are now using.

A variation of this is the Dr. Miriam Grossman idea that a woman who allows an endless parade of men through her bedroom is putting her mental health at risk. This is because of an oxytocin attachment disorder. She claims it is the key to depression and the major cause of emotional disturbance in young women. She is author of the book "Unprotected" and is a psychiatrist at UCLA's student health clinic. I wonder if she tells all women with symptoms of depression to just stop sleeping around?

Another variation is promoted by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse. Her theory, the underpinning of which is that it seems to make sense based on God's plan for us, is that "Oxytocin is instrumental in regulating the sex drive in both males and females –– it creates a natural feedback loop so that the more sex a couple has, the more they want. Sex with the right person (read husband/wife) produces a psychochemical cocktail that can yield absolute, unconditional and uninhibited love for each other –– orgasm causes levels of oxytocin to increase three to five times above normal. The warning is equally simple: to casually “hook up” is to risk short-circuiting all future relationships. The chemical reaction that takes place during orgasm prepares the body and heart for a relationship. When the relationship does not develop, the person’s bonding ability and ability to trust is undermined. Further, the stress of an uncommitted mating produces the same effect. In short, promiscuity can destroy the long-range potential for sex. "

Of course, the same arguments could be made to tell people to simply forget about divorce, as the stress from that is much greater than the breakup when you are dating. It also assumes that are breakups are equally devastating psychologically- in reality, almost very breakup is accompanied with a sense of relief for at least one of the two parties.

I just don't see how, based on what they are saying, that regular relationships and more oxytocin might not just make you better at bonding. Any actual science on that?
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