The Cocktail of Attraction

By understanding your body and how hormones play out in different relationship cycles, you can master how chemistry and attraction affects the quality of your sex, orgasms, and relationship dynamic.

Our hormonal system is responsible for creating rewarding sensual and spirit experiences.

And in the same vain, the act of sex can be a double-edged sword when we are navigating our emotions and desires. How can the act of lovemaking give people experiences of deep euphoric bliss and at other times, feel disjointed, empty and unfulfilled?

So what’s going on? Understanding how the body responds to different lovers and/or different styles of lovemaking in the same partnership is like understanding what ingredients go into your favourite cocktail or recipe.

As with any great recipe, knowing the key ingredients helps reproduce yummy, hearty experiences that leave you satisfied time and time again.

Hormones – the cocktail of arousal

Our brain plays a key role in arousal and pleasure. Beyond fantasy, it releases a cocktail of hormones into the body when stimulation is initiated. And men have a different cocktail formula to women. 

Women release higher levels of Oxytocin when aroused. This is the cuddling/love binding hormone. This hormone interacts powerfully with a women’s desire to be cuddled, responded to after lovemaking and to feel safe in the sexual relationship created. Oxytocin also allows the euphoric feeling to exist.

Men release Dopamine at higher rates as well as testosterone. Dopamine is known as the reward or pleasure hormone. It is released when an external stimulus defines pleasure as a reward in our body. For example, parents use rewards with children. Teaching them that good behaviour is rewarded they learn to identify a treat as the reward. In essence, it is dopamine that creates that interaction. Transfer this into adult sexual activity, and sex can be identified as a reward (thus can become addictive to men a lot easier than in women). 

Dopamine also runs the risk of being the novelty driver in our life – literally. This is not gender exclusive. Recall a time where you had a goal to buy something you desired. For me, it was my first car. I felt euphoric and a high sense of achievement, and yet, months later, the euphoric response wore off. I was out trying to achieve something else. Humanity thrive in pleasure reward response. It is healthy as a balanced approach. Where it can lead to strife is when the reward system becomes addictive, and you think the novelty of your partner has worn off.

Kisspeptin is the kissing hormone. When released, it adds to feel good feelings coursing through the body. The lips have 100 times more nerve ending than the fingertips. kissing stimulates the pleasure pathways and it makes for deeper satisfying lovemaking than when little to no kissing takes place.

At the peak of orgasm, oxytocin in women is at its highest. Which is why many women love to keep cuddling and feel connected after lovemaking.

Men experience a peak in dopamine. The reward pleasure response in the brain has been fulfilled, and as dopamine peaks come down, a sleepiness results. Which is why many men can naturally roll over and go to sleep after ejaculating.

Men and women experience different biological reactions after orgasm. Which can lead to frustration where there is a mismatch of expectations after intimacy.

It is not uncommon for long term partnerships to experience mismatched libidos. I see it regularly with the couples that reach out for intimacy coaching sessions. Over time, one partner is less interested in intimacy and the other feels like they are begging for it.

Or, similarly, people who experience a relationship lose attraction and magnetism at a certain time point (say 6 months) over and over again. It can feel frustrating, especially when the relationship ticks many boxes in satisfaction, except a mismatched libido.

Why does the novelty wear off?

Staying in status quo and in a pattern of intimacy can lead to boredom and a dilution of the hormonal response in the body.

In the latter example, abandoning the relationship at a certain time point is more of a reason of not wanting to go deeper in trust. There is a level of protection or guard for the individual.

The brains’ wiring responds to Oxytocin as the love binding hormone, and once you bind in relationship, the trigger can become less strong as the relationship seems like “it has been fulfilled”.

If dopamine is released by other reward pleasure responses (sex addiction, food, drugs, TV), then sex becomes less palatable. The craving is being met elsewhere. And sex feels unpalatable.

Instead of thinking the relationship is over, or there are years of therapy needed – there is help at hand.

When you introduce loving, softer connected lovemaking and intimacy, the body begins to feel satiated as oxytocin is high in both men and women. As opposed to quick fast thrusting sex regularly, or where there is sex with no love, dopamine is at the forefront.

It takes communication and practices to keep this level of openness and connection thriving. Massages, kissing, loving touch, communication and cuddling after lovemaking are ways to keep the magnetism and attraction high. Ask for what you desire adds to the security of the relationship, which adds to a higher pleasure response.

Open to a fuller spectrum of cultivating a loving relationship, people are joining us for deeply satisfying experiences at our workshops and retreats. You can find a spectrum of experiences at helenzee.com.