Archive for sex drive

Making Sense of Love

In her Ted Talk ‘Why we love’ (September 2006) Helen Fisher describes the Darwinian purpose of love. Love ensures the survival of the species! It ‘pulls two people together strongly enough to begin to rear babies as a team’.

She suggests the ‘pull’ of love combines three biological drives.

Firstly, there is the sex-drive – which ‘evolved to get you out there, looking for a range of partners’. It comes with the excitement of the physical attraction, the flirtation, the lust, the urge for erotic physical gratification and orgasm. Satisfaction releases a spike of the hormone dopamine and we feel GOOD.

Secondly, there is romantic love – the most powerful of the drives – which comes with compelling biological rewards. The area of the brain most activated by falling in love is the same one that is activated by cocaine. There is a craving to be with this person and, when we are, we experience a rush from constantly elevated levels of dopamine. We feel GREAT.

It is not just about the body. It is about minds and hearts. We feel valued, appreciated, understood and accepted – and feel flooded with love in return. We revel in the similarities and dismiss the differences. Love is blind!

We are elated and excited and feel we can take on the world together and, as Ted Hughes says,
‘I think we were built to be/We’re like two feet/We need each other to get ahead’

The emotional bonds deepen and strengthen. We feel caring and protective and concerned for the wellbeing of this other person. The closeness and connection creates such a sense of emotional security that a rush of oxytocin is released. We feel EVEN BETTER.

Fisher thinks that attachment is the third drive. It evolves to enable us to remain together as long-term partners and deal with the challenge of ‘tolerating this other human being’ over time. Differences need acknowledging and negotiating. Compromise needs generosity. As trust grows, and we can picture sharing a future together, we can decide to make the commitment to have a family.

However, unfortunately, these drives can operate separately from one another and we can suddenly find ourselves walking to different rhythms!
Fisher says, ‘You can feel deep attachment to a long-term partner at the same time that you feel intense romantic love for somebody else, and at the same time feel sexually attracted to someone else again’.

The counsellors in Coupleworks work with couples who struggle with the conflict caused by the pulls of these different drives. Understanding how the brain works allows us to consider and manage our unconscious impulses. We can then make choices consciously and clearly – and deal honestly and openly with the consequences.

Kathy Rees

Trends from the Sex Survey by the Observer

“The British are losing their sex drive” headlines the Observer newspaper following their recent sex survey. Perhaps a surprising result is that the average British adult has sex only four times a month compared to the figure of seven times a month in the 2008 survey. What’s more a third of the population does not have sex at all in a typical month.

There are, of course, debates about what is happening in our society that is bringing about these changes: the recession and the pressures of it, the continuing changing roles of men and women in relationships, online pornography, the popularity of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, the rising use of digital technology, to name but a few.

Some other interesting results from the survey

• 57% said trust was the most important component of a relationship followed by 26% saying conversation/communication and 2% sex.
• 63% of people are satisfied with their sex lives compared to 76% in 2008.
• 33% considered themselves to have above average prowess as a lover, compared to 55% in 2008.
• More than half of Britons 56% have watched pornography on the Internet occasionally, with 15% admitting to watching regularly.
• 43% of people read or thumbed through ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
• 36% admit to having had sex with a work colleague, a rise from 26% in 2008

You can read the full survey online here

Before the results of the survey were published I and two other therapists were interviewed about what we felt were the key trends going on at the moment. You can read a full account of what we said here

Perhaps the biggest question most people face, whether it is about their sex drive, the size of their penis or their sexual performance is ‘Am I normal?’. At Coupleworks we specialise in working with individuals and couples, helping them to work through some of the difficult relationship and sexual issues that most people face in their lives at some stage.

Sarah Fletcher