Super-stimulants create abnormally large influxes of dopamine to our reward centers. This desensitizes and deactivates dopamine receptors, which allow us to actually feel the pleasure, or “reward” itself, rather than the feelings of desire and craving that dopamine causes. Most people know about drug addicts who need a bigger fix each time, but this shows how the principle applies to all stimulus. In relevance to this blog, porn and the excessive practice of “edging” or “surfing” close to orgasm, can also lead to this sort of numbness.
Love is a beautiful, dangerous, inspiring, and complicated kick in the ass. I’m in open relationships. In the past I was non-consensually non-monogamous… aka I cheated, a lot. In the past five years or so, I’ve been learning how to communicate honestly, which included being more truthful to myself. That might be the hardest part — knowing what you want.
Every month or so, I go to a group meeting with my friends and lovers, and listen to what others have to say about love. Last night, we shared these two lists, which I’m completely fascinated by. I thought I’d put them here, in case they’re any use to any of you — sometimes I get questions about being poly, though issues around open relationships (time management is a big one) pertain to anyone regardless of our relationship style.
Six Basic Needs
We each have a desire to meet our basic needs; how we meet them is up to us. Will it be sustainable? Attainable? Destructive? Healthy?
1. Certainty – relates to security and safety
3. Connection / Love
5. Contribution (to something larger than ourselves, to community, etc)
6. Growth (personal growth, self-actualization)
Everyone has a different threshold for where this need is met. Ultimately, it’s about how the need gets met.
… an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President … The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around an experimental government farm. When [Mrs. Coolidge] came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” Upon being told, President asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” President: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”
The reward circuits in our brains register more dopamine for novel sexual experiences. This is how we evolved to spread our genes more effectively. We should probably try to adapt our relationships to our biology, not the other way around.