Afterglow refers to “the look of contentment on a person’s face after great sex,” at least according to the Urban Dictionary. In other words, the basic idea here is that sex can sometimes be so good that it has lingering effects on our happiness that others can quite literally see. Despite the popularity of this colloquial term, it’s not something that scientists have studied, which begs the question of whether there is really something to the idea of sexual afterglow and, if so, how long it lasts. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science offers some insights.Read More
One of the keys to a healthy, long-term relationship is maintaining physical intimacy. I’m not just talking about sex, though—for many reasons, non-sexual physical intimacy is just as important. For one thing, touch is a form of communication. It can reveal everything from your partner’s current mood state to their stress level. In addition, touch stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone involved in feelings of bondedness. Touch can therefore bring you closer to your partner both physically and psychologically.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know:
“Why are straight guys into breasts? Does it stem from them having been breastfed as children?”
Great question! I’ve heard this Freudian sort of explanation before (i.e., men’s fondness for breasts stems from having been nourished by their mothers’ breasts as infants); however, I don’t really buy it, nor do most of the other psychologists I know. I mean, if it were true, wouldn’t we expect that women and gay men would be just as sexually interested in breasts?Read More
The hormone oxytocin is often referred to in the popular media as the “love hormone” or “cuddle drug” because research has shown that it plays an important role in human bonding. For instance, experimental studies have demonstrated that participants are more trusting of other people during social interactions after being given a nasal spray with oxytocin compared to a placebo . In an attempt to capitalize on this and other such discoveries, several companies have started selling oxytocin-based products that are advertised to have a wide range of applications, from giving you an edge in the world of business to having more or better sex. The basic premise is that if you can enhance oxytocin levels in the people around you, they will develop more trust in you, thereby allowing you to get what you want sexually or otherwise. But do these products really work as promised?Read More
“Though we often associate love with the heart, the true magic can be seen inside the brain.”
This fascinating video by ASAP Science explores the neurobiology behind love. It turns out that when we’re in love, our brains activate the same pleasure centers as when we take drugs like cocaine, thereby resulting in a psychological “high.” Specifically, when we are around the person we love, our brains release a number of chemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin, which generate sexual desire and that feeling of being bonded with another person. At the same time, our brains release lower levels of serotonin. Given that low serotonin is linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this could help to explain why people in love often report having obsessive thoughts about their partner.
Check out the video below to learn more about what happens to our brains when we’re in love.