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Monday, March 8, 2010

Free Love Not So Free

Since our pre-teen years we have been taught that it is wrong to "sleep around". We are admonished about the immorality of treating another human being purely as a sexual object. We are confronted with dire warnings of unwanted pregnancies and sexual diseases, some of which are potentially fatal. Yet, most people ignore these "free love" criticisms. The ethical prohibitions are brushed aside as arbitrary and subjective. The threats of pregnancy and disease are circumvented through birth control devices, such as condoms.

But what if free love wasn't so free? What if science was to discover that sexual "freedom" is capable of altering our brain's hardware with respect to emotions?

In his recently released book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, Dr. Joe McIlhaney of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, TX, argues that recent studies suggest sleeping around when you are younger can ruin the happiness of your marriage years later.

"'When women are skin-to-skin with a man, their brain secretes oxytocin that causes them to bond emotionally to that man. Men secrete a hormone called vasopressin when they're having that kind of intimate behavior. And that hormone has even been called 'monogamy hormone' for men. And it bonds them to the woman,' McIlhaney explained."

So powerful is this oxytocin says McIlhaney that just a "20-second hug can cause a female to become bonded to a male."

Sexual promiscuity is a problem because it rips away at that bonding until eventually the oxytocin and vasopressin are ineffective at forming the bond. McIlhaney compares it to the constant tearing apart of velcro. Constantly pull apart velcro and eventually it will cease to adhere. "The brain actually gets molded to not accept that deep emotional level that's so important for marriage."

Fascinating . . . and disturbing.

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