If you didn't read part one of this from Tuesday, then nothing in this post is going to make a bit of sense to you. Please back up and read Tuesday's Post before delving into this one.
All done catching up? Good.
Now to the bad news (2 things) about the chemical oxytocin as it applies to the romantic relationships our kids are exploring. I promise that we'll look at the ridiculously good news on Friday.
BIOLOGY: The Addictive Power of Romantic Relationships (part 2)
The Bad News of Oxytocin – Sex Makes You Stupid
I have heard it said that “sex makes you stupid,” and I think that’s exactly right. While good sex in marriage will help you to stay crazy in love with your spouse, sexual activity outside of marriage has the potential to make you crazy in love with a complete bozo. It’s why two young people who seem to have nothing in common and who you rarely see getting along very well can’t seem to break up. They are confusing lust with love and oxytocin is effectively serving as the fuel that’s powering their stupidity.
In my work with hundreds of teenagers in dating relationships, one reality that stands out more than anything else is that sexual intimacy masks relationship flaws. Two young people can be in a relationship that EVERYBODY in their lives can see is dysfunctional, yet they keep coming back to one another. Even if their sexual activity is relatively benign (passionate kissing, for example) there is a biological component at work beneath the surface of their relationship. Just as an addict keeps going back to the drug that he knows is ultimately not good for him, couples who are “hooked” on one another consistently overlook the troubling parts of their relationship and stay together regardless. This can last indefinitely or until one of them finally hits a wall (or notices someone else) and ends the relationship.
More Bad News – Oxytocin Abuse Takes It’s Toll
There are long term-effects of serial dating – moving from relationship to relationship through the teen and young adult years. Those who find themselves forming emotional, sexual, and biological connections in a long series of relationships in their developmental years will find that oxytocin begins to lose its effectiveness, it’s connective power. Just as a drug addict needs more and more of a substance to get the same buzz, an individual trying to find a meaningful relationship will eventually find that they cannot produce enough oxytocin to effectively help them to bond with their partner. Few people, particularly teenagers, ever consider this reality.
Think of it like duct tape. If I stick a piece of duct tape to a wall and then peel it off a few months later, it will have lost some of its “stickiness.” Some of the glue will likely still be on the wall. If I stick that same piece to a different wall, it’s not going to stick as well. Peel it off again and put it somewhere else and it will be even less sticky. Repeat this process enough times and it’s eventually not going to stick to anything. Consider this as it relates to a young person cycling through relationship after relationship on their way to marriage.
Joanna Hyatt, director of Reality Check, a sexual and relational health education program that promotes sexual integrity, puts it this way: “Studies have shown if you have multiple physical relationships that then break up, you damage your ability to form a long-term commitment. You train your brain to only do short-term. Those people who are having sex outside of marriage but still want to have a solid, successful marriage someday, are making it that much harder for themselves.”
Too many parents think they are helping their kids out by encouraging them to “play the field” or to “sow their wild oats” before they eventually settle down and get married. Their logic is that this will help them to “get it out of their systems” before they make a long-term commitment. The reality is, however, that they are actually crippling their kids’ ability have an abundant and fulfilling marriage.
*Tune in tomorrow for the good news of oxytocin. It truly is remarkable...