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LOVE AFFAIRS

What has your first heartbreak taught you?

Contributing writer Eunice Roman recalls that “growing up in a family of practicing Christians, I was always taught that a man was for a woman and vice versa, no gray areas, no room for explanations.” But then she learned that she is not the type of person to deny herself pleasures that she finds simple, like being attracted to someone regardless of gender.

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As a 23 year old female with very little to show for in the department of love and relationships, reflecting on my first encounter with the L words—Love and Lesbianism, in case that isn’t made clear… which it isn’t — is a bit frustrating. And perhaps juvenile.

But on a not-even-the-tiniest-bit-special Saturday night such as this one, I find myself (unusually) sober and reliving my past, and how I fell in love for the first time. And how I didn’t stop falling until rock bottom cushioned my blow and scraped my knees and elbows raw. Honestly, I wanted to write down an article worth reading. As an aspiring writer, what I’m told is to write what you know.

I want to write about a girl who I knew, and who helped me know myself.

To spare you the details of our non love story, I’ll just say that we met at grade 5 in an international school in Saudi Arabia. We were two sheltered girls stuffed in an all girl’s section, in a city so closed even wind had a hard time penetrating  the vicinity at times. Because of all the sandstorms.

I hated her the first time I met her. Now, you don’t know me, but you should know that I don’t just say “hate” every time I get the chance to. I’ll say it about ginger tea or when I’m given 10 cents for change, but not easily when in reference to a person.

She was too noisy, too vibrant, too blindingly colorful for the monochrome world I had been surrounded with. Little did I know that this Crayola box was about to color me out of my mind later in my life. Which I will now skip to; freshmen year.

I had taken an interest in music and by some twist of faith—and perhaps also by my own volition—I was put into a rock and roll band with her. I was the vocalist, she was the drummer, and everyone else in the band began to blur in the background the more band practices came, the more time I spent with her in her house with her family, the later it got in the night and it was just her and me waiting for my dad to pick me up. She was suddenly high on the totem pole, the focus of all my attention. It was between the lame jokes and failed drum lessons (courtesy of her) that I slowly began to feel that drop which started from how high I suddenly set her up on a pedestal, all the way down to the bottom of the pits. It began as an orb of warmth, pea-sized and barely visible within the pit of my stomach, slowly growing the more I fed it with the sound of her laughter or those times I’d see her nearly trip and fall on her face yet she always managed to catch herself last minute and I thought she was some sort of super human.

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Sophomore year, high school: being oblivious became a mundane affair. And though I had this reputation for being the friend that showed love through the cold shoulder and evading all sorts of affection, for the first time when she asked to kiss me goodnight that one faithful night during camping, I said yes. I even reciprocated. The best part was seeing that glow in her cheeks when I did.

Growing up in a family of practicing Christians, I was always taught that a man was for a woman and vice versa, no gray areas, no room for explanations. Before her, I only had one little crush on a girl in our class when I first moved to the school, but I chalked it up as nothing more than an experimental phase of my life. Because who doesn’t go through experimental phases at age 10?

Despite this knowledge and the idea of Satan making room for me in hell, I saw nothing wrong with the way I felt. I doubted myself in the beginning, not because I was having such feelings for the same sex, but more because I knew for a fact that she was the enemy. Gradually, as though Rumplestiltskin had grabbed a handful of my hate and turned it to gold, finding reasons to hate her further was like grasping at straws.

What was crazy about this was that I was sure that she felt the same. This wasn’t an overnight analogy. It was a culmination of comparisons, of hidden touches that were just for us and no one else, of weird notes and looks passed in the middle of class, in calling each other best friends and smiling right after because it had an underlying tone of ambiguity.

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One faithful phone call was all it took to tear all of it to shreds. I was at home, probably on the computer, when she called with questions about homework, and then stayed with stupid questions about life and us being friends forever. Somehow, the conversation took some very flirtatious turns and I was feeling spikes of electricity at the thought of her on the other end, even just the thought of her hand being exactly where mine was on my landline. And when confession o’ clock struck, she refused to make anything official and basically said, “I like you too, but I’m not gay.” When I asked her what she thought to do about that, she said she’d wait until her feelings faded. And that’s when I hung up because it was my cue to cry. Suddenly the orb of light turned into a monstrous sun burning up my insides.

It has been 10 years since that night. We still see each other sometimes and I think I’ll catch a glimpse of that goofy 14 year old girl who used to write me cards for Valentine’s Day and call me hers, but it’s all tucked safely within the shadow of the dimples framing her smile. Over the years, the most important thing that I have learned about that night is that I don’t regret it. Though I lost the private jokes and the handholding, I also gained perspective. And I found out that I was capable of loving someone in such a way, and that I should be careful the next time I do.

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I’ve learned that love, like most people say, is not what hurts. Rejection hurts and so does the steely cold blade of betrayal against your backbone and being told that what you feel isn’t enough to change anything, but love is what helps you back up on your feet. This may not mean finding love with someone else, but loving yourself too much to prolong your demise.

I’ve learned that I am not the type of person to deny myself pleasures that I find simple, like being attracted to someone regardless of gender.

And that orb of light she colored so brightly is still here somewhere, always testing me to find someone more deserving of not just love, but who I would gratefully accept all that pain all over again from.

Eunice is a self-proclaimed creative writer whose philosophy about writing doesn't stretch too far from "write drunk, edit sober". She idolizes many authors and dreams of either being them or with them in some capacity. This dreamer was born in the Philippines, raised in Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and then went back to the Philippines to learn the ways of the world, a.k.a. commuting and haggling. "And yes, I am great at both," she says.

LOVE AFFAIRS

Bad break-ups may not trigger weight gain from emotional eating

It has been well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. A study says this isn’t really true.

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That pint of ice cream after a nasty breakup may not do as much damage as you think. Despite the emotional turmoil, people on average do not report gaining weight after a relationship dissolution, according to new research.

The study, which included researchers from Penn State, were investigating the German concept of “kummerspeck” — excess weight gain due to emotional eating — which literally translates to “grief bacon.”

Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, said that while hoarding food after a breakup may have made sense for humans thousands of years ago, modern humans may have grown out of the habit.

“Food was much scarcer in the ancestral environment, so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made gathering food much harder,” Harrison said. “It may have made sense if our ancestors hoarded food after a breakup. But our research showed that while it’s possible people may drown their sorrows in ice cream for a day or two, modern humans do not tend to gain weight after a breakup.”

According to the researchers, it has been well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. Because breakups can be stressful and emotional, it could potentially trigger emotional eating.

Additionally, ancient relationship dynamics may have made packing on the pounds after a breakup evolutionary advantageous.

“Modern women of course have jobs and access to resources now, but back then, it was likely that women were smaller and needed more protection and help with resources,” Harrison said. “If their partner left or abandoned them, they would be in trouble. And the same could have gone for men. With food not as plentiful in the ancestral world, it may have made sense for people to gorge to pack on the pounds.”

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Harrison also noted that the existence of the word “kummerspeck” itself suggested that the phenomenon existed.

The researchers completed two studies to test the theory that people may be more likely to gain weight after a relationship breakup. In the first one, the researchers recruited 581 people to complete an online survey about whether they had recently gone through a breakup and whether they gained or lost weight within a year of that breakup.

Most of the participants — 62.7 percent — reported no weight change. According to Harrison, she and the other researchers were surprised by this result and decided to perform an additional study.

For the second study, the researchers recruited 261 new participants to take a different, more extensive survey than the one used in the first study. The new survey asked whether participants had ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term relationship, and whether they gained or lost weight as a result. The survey also asked about participants’ attitudes toward their ex-partner, how committed the relationship was, who initiated the breakup, whether the participants tended to eat emotionally, and how much participants enjoy food in general.

While all participants reported experiencing a break up at some point in their lives, the majority of participants — 65.13 percent — reported no change in weight after relationship dissolution.

“We were surprised that in both studies, which included large community samples, we found no evidence of ‘kummerspeck’,” Harrison said. “The only thing we found was in the second study, women who already had a proclivity for emotional eating did gain weight after a relationship breakup. But it wasn’t common.”

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Harrison added that the results — recently published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium — may have clinical implications.

“It could be helpful information for clinicians or counselors with patients who tend to eat emotionally,” Harrison said. “If your client is going through a breakup and already engages in emotional eating, this may be a time where they need some extra support.”

Victoria Warner, a Penn State Harrisburg graduate student, was the lead author of this study. Samantha Horn from Penn State Harrisburg and Susan Hughes from Albright College also participated in this work.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Be fierce, not forlorn: Bouncing back from a bad breakup

You don’t have to feign a complete recovery. If you need time to mourn, even a really crappy relationship, then give yourself time to do it. You have your own pace, so long as you’re working at it, you’re on the way to a healthier future and a wiser, more confident view of future relationships, too.

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We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the sudden end to a seemingly perfect relationship, the long untangling of a messy pairing doomed to fail, or the righteous indignation that comes after infidelity, breakups can hit hard. Worst of all, they can hurt you in ways that can take a long time to heal without the right self-care.

If an ex seemingly won’t let you move on, then you need to be firm, stand your ground, and cut your ties, even if you didn’t want the relationship to end in the first place.
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Here, we’re going to look at ways you can make sure you’re not stuck wallowing and get back to the you that you want to be.

Cut the cord

“We can still be friends.” It’s something many of us will say or hear after a painful breakup and it’s almost always a bad idea. If an ex seemingly won’t let you move on, then you need to be firm, stand your ground, and cut your ties, even if you didn’t want the relationship to end in the first place. You’re not going to be able to move on if you’re still spending time and energy on maintaining some sort of relationship after the breakup.

Say “Bye, Felicia”

Every relationship needs some closure for us to be able to focus our energies elsewhere. Rarely do you get that closure in the breakup. The suddenness of it, the emotionality of it all, can make it hard to actually reflect on it. That’s why you should, instead, consider writing a letter to your ex. Take the time to put your thoughts in place, think about all the things you wanted to say, and say them. Then burn it. What’s important is that you got the chance to say them, not whatever they might have thought when hearing them.

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Work on yourself

It’s all “me, myself, and I” after a breakup. Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and your positive support group can be helpful, but proactively spending time on yourself in a way you may have been unable to can be greatly rewarding. Getting into some new workouts, chasing a professional goal, or simply updating your style can help you refocus your efforts somewhere other than a relationship. Achieving something for you and yourself alone will give you plenty more reasons to be confident again.

Date yourself, too

Want to see if you still got it or simply want a little fun after getting out of a heavy relationship? Fine. However, following a breakup with another immediate attempt to start a relationship rarely goes well. Spend time on self-care, on friendships around you, and on indulging a little in ways you haven’t been able to. Take some time to yourself and give the scars of the relationship some time to heal so that they don’t sabotage your future potential for happiness.

You don’t have to feign a complete recovery. If you need time to mourn, even a really crappy relationship, then give yourself time to do it. You have your own pace, so long as you’re working at it, you’re on the way to a healthier future and a wiser, more confident view of future relationships, too.


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Love Guides

How you can add fresh excitement to your relationship

It is important that you take the state of your physical relationship into consideration, as letting things slide in this department can result in other areas and aspects of your relationship being affected.

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When it comes to relationships, it can be very difficult to keep things magical and fresh all the time. While your physical relationship may have been really exciting to begin with, once you have other commitments to think about, things can start to slide. Most people are busy with commitments such as work, family, and financial worries, which can all take their toll on your physical relationship.

It is important that you take the state of your physical relationship into consideration, as letting things slide in this department can result in other areas and aspects of your relationship being affected. The good news is that there are simple methods you can use to add fresh excitement to your love life, and if you are open-minded you can have great fun at the same time. In this article, we will look at some of these methods.

Methods You Can Use

Are you and your partner open-minded and up for some adventure and excitement in the bedroom? If so, using adult toys could be the perfect way to try new and exciting experiences together. You may be one of those people who has never used these products before, and you may find yourself wondering ‘what are anal beads?’ and other products you are unfamiliar with. Well, the good news is that there are so many adult toy products available these days, you are certain to find something that you and your partner can experiment with in the bedroom.

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Another thing that the two of you may find exciting and thrilling is to act out your fantasies in the bedroom. Just because your partner has never mentioned anything about fantasies to you before, this doesn’t mean they don’t have any.

Likewise, you may harbor your own fantasies but have never mentioned them to your partner. Well, now is the time to stop being coy and communicate with your partner about your fantasies. You can then enjoy reliving these in the bedroom by dressing up sexily, creating scenarios, and more.

There are couples who feel far more at ease when they are not at home, such as while away on vacation. Well, you can’t go on a vacation every time you want to get intimate. However, one thing you can do is book a couple of nights away somewhere from time to time so you can get away from it all, feel less stress, and feel more relaxed. You can enjoy spending some quality time together by doing this, and you can use some of that time to get things moving in the bedroom department.

Making an Effort Makes a Difference

When you make this type of effort and open up your mind, you can both look forward to exciting new experiences as well as a more satisfying physical relationship. This is something that can then have a positive impact on your overall relationship so it is well worth making time to work on your love life. 

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Signs whether your partner is cheating on you

According to research, 20-26% of married people have admitted to having an extramarital affair that involved sex. At least 40% of married people admit to emotional infidelity, and almost 100% of married couples have admitted to having thought about cheating.

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Cheating, also called infidelity or adultery, involves one partner or both going against their vows regarding emotional and sexual exclusivity. Depending on your personal boundaries in your relationship, some of the things that could be considered cheating are:

  • Having sexual contact with someone else other than your partner,
  • Discussing matters of a sexual nature with someone other than your partner,
  • Giving gifts to someone other than your partner, and/or
  • Having romantic chats (calls and texts) with someone else behind your partner’s back.

According to research, 20-26% of married people have admitted to having an extramarital affair that involved sex. At least 40% of married people admit to emotional infidelity, and almost 100% of married couples have admitted to having thought about cheating. This shows that cheating among couples is becoming more common than maybe we like to think, radically changing the meaning of faithfulness and honesty in marriages.

Coping with cheating or believing your partner is cheating is a nightmare in many romantic relationships. Cheating is disastrous and can destroy even the best relationships. Besides, the effects of cheating are severe heartbreaks and hopelessness. Some relationship coaches add that cheating may lead to low self-esteem and feelings of betrayal.

With such effects, there are some everyday factors that can predict whether your spouse will cheat on you.

Level of Education

A recent study shows that women who are more educated than their husbands were twice as likely to engage in sexual infidelity. Furthermore, ladies are more prone having extramarital affairs with men who are more educated than their husbands.

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Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners

The higher the number of sexual partners one has had in the past, the more likely he/she will cheat. A high number of sexual partners indicates that the person is not likely to settle into a long-term relationship.

Revenge

Many people cheat as a way of getting revenge on their unfaithful partner who had previously cheated on them.

To help look after yourself,you can sign up to happymatches.com and find a faithful partner who’ll treasure your faithfulness and trust. Often, revenge in relationships turns into never-ending conflict.

Age  

Relationship experts cite that women are more likely to cheat when they are younger. On the other hand, the likelihood of men cheating increases with age,as they are generally more attracted to younger partners.

State of the Relationship

Is your partner satisfied in his/her relationship? Women who are dissatisfied in their relationship have a higher chance of cheating as a way of avoiding stress and finding happiness. Moreover, cheating can be a way of influencing a divorce or a breakup.

Reasons Why People Cheat in Relationships

Some of the common reasons why people cheat are:

Opportunity

You are more likely to cheat with people who you spend a lot of time with. Spending lots of time with someone who isn’t your partner influences you to share some of your most intimate feelings with them.

Peer Pressure

This mostly applies to men. A considerable number of men consider cheating on their partners as something to brag about and be proud of. This has tempted several men to cheat on their spouse so that they can fit in with the “squad.”

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LOVE AFFAIRS

More than one in 10 want to be in an open relationship

Researchers found that people engaging in and preferring open relationships tended to be slightly younger. Men were also more likely to have reported being in an open relationship and to identify open as their ideal relationship type. Relationship satisfaction didn’t differ significantly between individuals in monogamous and open relationships.

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An open heart?

A sizable number of adults are either in or would like to be in an open relationship. This is one of the key findings from a research from the University of British Columbia, and which was published in the Journal of Sex Research.

The study was conducted in Canada, and is the first outside of the US to assess the prevalence of open relationships using a representative sample.

Researchers analyzing data from a nationally representative survey of about 2,000 Canadian adults found that 4% of those in relationships reported being in an open relationship, while 20% reported having been in an open relationship in the past. Meanwhile, more than one in ten (12%) reported that open relationships were their “ideal relationship type.”

“Our findings suggest that more people would like to be in an open relationship than already are, possibly because of the stigma associated with these types of relationships and the difficulty of broaching this subject with partners,” said Nichole Fairbrother, the study’s lead author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychiatry. “Even with the stigma, however, it still appears that a sizable number of Canadian adults are either in or would like to be in an open relationship.”

Relationship satisfaction didn’t differ significantly between individuals in monogamous and open relationships.
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Open relationships are those in which individuals agree to participate in sexual, emotional and romantic interactions with more than one partner. Examples include polyamory (engaging in multiple romantic relationships) and swinging (engaging in multiple sexual relationships outside of a relationship, alone or together, with minimal or no emotional or romantic involvement).

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For the study, the researchers had market research firm Ipsos administer an online questionnaire to a representative sample of about 2,000 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 94. Nearly equal numbers of men and women responded to the survey. Fifty-five per cent of respondents were married or living with a romantic partner, while 31% were single, 10% were separated or divorced and nearly 4% were widowed.

Among the key findings, the researchers found that people engaging in and preferring open relationships tended to be slightly younger. Men were also more likely to have reported being in an open relationship and to identify open as their ideal relationship type. Relationship satisfaction didn’t differ significantly between individuals in monogamous and open relationships. Rather, having a match between one’s actual and preferred relationship type was associated with greater relationship satisfaction, the researchers found.

As for why greater numbers of men tend to prefer open to monogamous relationships, the researchers suggest it could be partially due to the greater prevalence of open relationships among same-sex male couples. They say more research is needed to fully understand the factors behind men preferring open relationships more than women.

Fairbrother said the findings have clinical implications for mental health providers, especially for those who provide couples therapy.

“Given that a significant minority of respondents say they prefer open relationships, it may be useful for mental health providers to consider ways of making it easier for couples to talk about their relationship preferences in therapy,” she said.

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The researchers also collected survey answers from hundreds of UBC and Ryerson University students to analyze the characteristics of people who prefer different relationship configurations. They are analyzing this data now.

Men were more likely to have reported being in an open relationship and to identify open as their ideal relationship type.
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The study was co-authored by Trevor Hart, a psychology professor and director of the HIV prevention lab at Ryerson University, and Malcolm Fairbrother, a sociologist at Umeå University in Sweden. It was supported by a Ryerson University faculty of arts new initiatives award, awarded to Hart.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Study says sex helps initiate romantic relationships between potential partners

Sexual desire may play a causally important role in the development of relationships. It’s the magnetism that holds partners together long enough for an attachment bond to form.

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A budding relationship or just a one-night stand? The difference may not be immediately obvious, least of all to those directly involved. However, sex helps initiate romantic relationships between potential partners.

This is according to a new study, “Fueled by desire: Sexual activation facilitates the enactment of relationship-initiating behaviors” by Gurit E. Birnbaum, Moran Mizrahi and Harry T. Reis, and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

The team of psychologists from the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the University of Rochester’s Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology conclude that sexual desire may play a major role not only in attracting potential partners to each other, but also in encouraging the formation of an attachment between them.

“Sex may set the stage for deepening the emotional connection between strangers,” says the study’s lead author Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC Herzliya. “This holds true for both men and women. Sex motivates human beings to connect, regardless of gender.”

The study was – however, and worth noting – limited to heterosexual relationships.

Still, according to Birnbaum, some believe that men are more likely than women to initiate relationships when sexually aroused, but when one focuses on more subtle relationship-initiating strategies, such as providing help, this pattern does not hold true: in fact, both men and women try to connect with potential partners when sexually aroused.

In four interrelated studies, participants were introduced to a new acquaintance of the opposite sex in a face-to-face encounter. The researchers demonstrate that sexual desire triggers behaviors that can promote emotional bonding during these encounters.

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“Although sexual urges and emotional attachments are distinct feelings, evolutionary and social processes likely have rendered humans particularly prone to becoming romantically attached to partners to whom they are sexually attracted,” says co-author Harry Reis, a professor of psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester.

In the first study, the researchers looked at whether sexual desire for a new acquaintance would be associated with non-verbal cues signaling relationship interest. These so-called immediacy behaviors are displayed in the synchronization of movements, close physical proximity, and frequent eye contact with a study insider who worked with the scientists. The study participants, all of whom identified as single and heterosexual, were recruited at a university in central Israel.

Study 1 included 36 women and 22 men who lip-synched to pre-recorded music with an attractive, opposite-sex study insider. Afterwards, participants rated their desire for the insider, whom they believed to be another participant. The scientists found that the greater the participant’s desire for the insider, the greater their immediacy behaviors towards, and synchronization with, the insider.

Study 2 replicated the finding with 38 women and 42 men who were asked to slow dance with an attractive, opposite-sex insider, whom they believed to be a study participant. Again, the researchers found a direct association between synchronization of body movement and desire for the insider.

Study 3 included 42 women and 42 men and established a causal connection between activating the sexual behavior system and behaviors that help initiate relationships. In order to activate the sexual system, the researchers used a subliminal priming technique in which they flashed an erotic, non-pornographic image for 30 milliseconds on a screen, which participants were not aware of seeing. Next, participants interacted with a second study participant–essentially a potential partner–discussing interpersonal dilemmas while being videotaped. Afterwards judges rated the participants’ behaviors that conveyed responsiveness and caring. The scientists found the activation of the sexual system also resulted in behaviors that suggested caring about a potential partner’s well-being–an established signal for interest in a relationship.

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Study 4 included 50 women and 50 men. Half the group watched an erotic, non-pornographic video scene from the movie The Boy Next Door. The other half watched a neutral video of rainforests in South America. Next, study participants were assigned an attractive opposite-sex insider and told to complete a verbal reasoning task. The insider pretended to get stuck on the third question and asked the participant for help. The researchers found that those participants who had watched the erotic movie scene were quicker to help, invested more time, and were perceived as more helpful, than the neutral video control group.

What then could explain the role of sex in fostering partnerships? Human sexual behavior evolved to ensure reproduction. As such, sex and producing offspring don’t depend on forming an attachment between partners. However, the prolonged helplessness of human children promoted the development of mechanisms that keep sexual partners bonded to each other so that they can jointly care for their offspring, says Birnbaum, whose collaboration with Reis spans 20 years, dating back to her postdoc days at the University of Rochester.

“Throughout human history, parents’ bonding greatly increased the children’s survival chances,” she says.

Prior neuroimaging research has shown that similar brain regions (the caudate, insula, and putamen) are activated when a person experiences either sexual desire or romantic love. The researchers surmise that this pattern hints at a neurological pathway that causes sexual activation–the neural processes that underlie a sexual response–to affect emotional bonding.

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They conclude that experiencing sexual desire between previously unacquainted strangers may help facilitate behaviors that cultivate personal closeness and bonding.

“Sexual desire may play a causally important role in the development of relationships,” says Birnbaum. “It’s the magnetism that holds partners together long enough for an attachment bond to form.”

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