September 8, 2008
This past Sunday the New York Times featured the article New Love: A Short Shelf Life. I was intrigued by this excerpt:
There are evolutionary, physiological and practical reasons passionate love is unlikely to endure for long. If we obsessed, endlessly, about our partners and had sex with them multiple times a day — every day — we would not be very productive at work or attentive to our children, our friends or our health. (To quote a line from the 2004 film “Before Sunset,” about two former lovers who chance to meet again after a decade, if passion did not fade, “we would end up doing nothing at all with our lives.” ) Indeed, the condition of being in love has a lot in common with the state of addiction and narcissism; if unabated, it will eventually exact a toll.
WHY, then, is the natural shift from passionate to companionate love often such a letdown? Because, although we may not realize it, we are biologically hard-wired to crave variety. Variety and novelty affect the brain in much the same way that drugs do — that is, they trigger activity that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, as do pharmacological highs.
Evolutionary biologists believe that sexual variety is adaptive, and that it evolved to prevent incest and inbreeding in ancestral environments. The idea is that when our spouse becomes as familiar to us as a sibling — when we’ve become family — we cease to be sexually attracted to each other.
…We may love our partners deeply, idolize them, and even be willing to die for them, but these feelings rarely translate into long-term passion. And studies show that in long-term relationships, women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex, and to lose it sooner. Why? Because women’s idea of passionate sex depends far more centrally on novelty than does men’s.
This runs counter to what we normally hear from evolutionary biologists. Does anyone have insights or thoughts to share?
August 8, 2012
I think this actually makes sense. A certain subset of people from both genders are going to be wired for variety. In the case of men, this preference for variety will manifest itself as a preference for harems or one-night-stands. In contrast, women who prefer variety are going to do so under serial monogamy. So, any man who enters a long-term-relationship is not likely to be wired for variety, and will likely not require novelty, even after two years. In contrast, women who're wired for variety might still enter long-term-relationships, only to find themselves seeking novelty two years down the road.
Most Users Ever Online: 437
Currently Browsing this Page:
Guest Posters: 0
Administrators: Susan Walsh (152)