the chemicals between us

It’s hard and embarrassing to admit that I skipped a main part of Patti Stanger’s advice. I have been, for better or worse, physically intimate with a casual “friend” for the past three years. This friend came along at a time that I needed him, and I will admit that we have more in common than perhaps any person I’ve met before or since. In my list of things I want and need, his good qualities rank right at the very top. He is hilarious, smart, and at times I can pinpoint his true concern for my general welfare that made me feel understood and appreciated in a way I could never, ever imagine.

But his bad qualities outnumber his good qualities. I have never trusted him; I know that I am little more than a notch in the bedpost, so to speak. In the ever evolving door of women, I was lucky that he even remembered my name, I think. The lies I have uncovered are sickening, but the lies I haven’t been able to crack are probably worse. The nights of misery this relationship has caused are really disappointing. I ultimately have no one to blame but myself–simply for tolerating this and letting myself be in this situation!

Certainly in the last year I have distanced myself mentally as well as physically, and there is nothing regular about our schedule of meetings but nonetheless I have done things from time to time that I shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter that as the years have gone on the romance has been less and less. I’m finally ready to admit that something Patti has written is unequivocally right.

It is impossible to move on from a physical relationship, no matter how casual and how infrequent the trysts. In a nutshell, Oxytocin is a chemical in your brain that bonds you to a person you are physically touching, sometimes sexually, sometimes in a mother-child relationship. It’s known as the cuddle hormone, as it is released following birth and during breastfeeding, bonding mother with child, and yes, during orgasm. That last one is the kicker. It means it’s possible for a woman to bond to a man who can make her climax no matter HOW crappy that guy may treat her. Patti Stanger even cites her own mishaps in dating as a result of oxytocin bonding. Oxytocin plays on the trust vs. fear debate that humans wrestle with mentally. In both the mother-child and woman-lover moments that release the hormone, trust is built and fear is lowered, and it is believed that it is Oxytocin that lowers the fearful reactions in the human body, thereby building up trusting emotions.

It truly does sound like witchcraft, doesn’t it? You’ve got this mysterious hormone that ruins lives. However, if you look at it in a very simple way it makes sense. After climax, you generally feel content, warm, cuddly…maybe even secure and safe, right? At the very least, you should be happy. Now, eliminate the oxytocin factor. Just look at it in black and white–your body is happy and satisfied, and someone specifically helped you reach this state. Bodies crave this feeling. Of COURSE you’re going to associate the feeling with the person, and when your body craves that state, it’s going to crave what last put it in the state of euphoria thereby making you desire a big piece of the asshole who got you there. Patti is right. Oxytocin is ruining lives, and you’ll never shake the person until you shake the activity.

Patti puts her foot down in the first half of the book and demands you drop your oxytocin bonds that are bad (i.e. any bond that isn’t with your children) if you’re going to fully give yourself to someone new. But beyond this, she reminds you to be careful who you are intimate with after you’ve gotten rid of old relationships, because this Oxytocin is powerful stuff. One Oxytocin release (i.e. one sexual encounter!) can create a bond that is impossibly strong. It’s a transmittable disease, actually. Gross.

In the past few months The Friend has announced he’s moving out of town, and though he has assured me our friendship is true and we will keep in touch, I can’t help but acknowledge that it is an appropriate end to an era. Tonight I said farewell to The Friend and to the adult nature of that relationship, knowing that with physical distance, mental distance will also be possible. And thus the breaking of the Oxytocin bond begins.

Of course, I have a flare for drama and had to see him one last time to give him a special gift, a framed magazine featuring a sporting event we both attended together that has gone down in the annuals of local lore. And lo and behold, The Friend brought me a gift as well. A beautiful ring with five stones , each a different color, that I left at his house two years ago.

But the ring isn’t mine. How poetic. The ring belongs to someone else he had at his place. Someone else stayed there, someone else left jewelry. I accepted the ring graciously, hugged him goodbye and closed the door. I closed the door on a lot of things.

As I sit here typing, the ring is on my right hand, sliding around because it’s several sizes larger than what my five and a half ring finger could accommodate. I think this weekend I will take the ring and have it re-sized to fit my hand. I think I’ll wear the ugly, five stoned ring on my right hand ring finger for awhile to remind myself that I am worth a lot. That I deserve a lot. That I can never play with fire again. That I want happiness–the kind of happiness that comes when your thoughts, word and actions are all composed of the same truth.



5 thoughts on “the chemicals between us

  1. I’m learning that sometimes it helps to have that person physically cut out of your life in order to cut the physical bond you had with them. In my case, part of me is always going to hate that I had that relationship with that person, but being cut off from them turned out to be exactly what I needed. And what that person saw as a way of punishing me wasn’t actually punishment at all.

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