What happens to the brain while in love?

Have you ever drifted into a dreamy thought of someone you recently met? You can’t explain why, but they just pop into your head. You feel a surge of joy, a slight queasiness in your stomach, and your face lights up with each playful thought of your new mate. A rush of neurochemicals stimulates this euphoric behavior.

Is this stage of love fleeting or can long-term committed relationships uphold blissful adoration?

The Stages of Modern Relationships

Whether you identify yourself as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual, there are various stages to each relationship. According to research, during the initial meeting, it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you want to move to dating and/or sex and not always in that particular order. During this lustful stage, testosterone and estrogen drive your behavior.

As your attraction deepens and you decide to become sexually exclusive or not, your stress response stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters; adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin.

Throughout this stage, your stress response is activated. Blood levels increase with adrenaline and cortisol, hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. The secretion of adrenaline and cortisol provide that rush of energy, increase in heart rate, sweaty palms, and dry mouth when you suddenly think of or startlingly bump into your new attraction.

Dopamine

The neurotransmitter, dopamine is increased with ‘love struck’ mates. Dopamine stimulates an intense rush of pleasure, triggering desire and reward. A brain on cocaine has the same effect.

“couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship” ~ Helen Fisher

Serotonin

Serotonin plays a key role in this early stage of love. Low levels of serotonin explain those constant thoughts of your lover. According to Dr. Marazziti from the University of Pisa, blood samples of couples that claimed to be madly in love for less than six months were comparable to the blood samples of patients who have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Furthermore, newly love-struck couples often idealize their partner, magnify their assets and overlook flaws.

“It’s very common to think they have a relationship that is closer and more special than anyone else’s.” ~ Ellen Berscheid

Oxytocin

Next, a couple decides upon exclusivity, engagement, living together or marrying. The attachment of the twosome instigates the powerful hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin is released during childbirth and creates the bond between a mother and her child. The chemical is also secreted by both of the sexes during cuddling, hugging, and sex.

Oxytocin is important because couples that exhibit high doses of oxytocin have a strong bond and attachment that can withstand the ups and downs of life. For the release of oxytocin, it takes between 19 and 23 seconds. Thus to ensure your couplehood survives the test of time; hug, cuddle and have sex regularly.

Vasopressin

Finally, vasopressin sets the stage for long-term committed couples. The hormone is released after sex and like oxytocin creates stable bonding with your partner. Vasopressin also creates the actions of devotion and protection.

The stages of a relationship change as do the release of chemicals in the brain. The surge of dopamine in the initial lustful state creates a rush of pleasure that stimulates, even more, desire and reward. Adrenaline causes the physical reaction of sweaty palms, racing heart, and dry-mouth.

Serotonin creates those compulsive, idealizing thoughts of your partner and oxytocin makes for strong bonds. Finally, vasopressin deepens the connection and generates long-lasting love.

Therefore it is possible to love and to be in love with your partner ‘til death to us part.’ Give your loved one a 30-second hug every day to ensure your love lasts.

If your bond is broken, your trust shattered, or your connection lost, couples counseling can help to mend bonds, build trust and connection again. Call (424) 258-5416 or email april@aprilwrighttherapy.com and let’s get started.

The Secret of Love (Spoiler Alert)

journey by Deepak Chopra, MD

The Internet has taken up the slack from print media by offering tips on love and relationships, which pop up on home pages, in tweets and in news teasers many times a day. If the secret to lasting romance could be shared like a recipe for cinnamon buns, our problems would be over. But love isn’t a fact, formula, or definable in words.

Love is a process, perhaps the most mysterious one in human psychology. No one knows what creates love as a powerful bond that is so full of meaning. If romance was only a heady brew of hormones, genetic inheritance and sex drive, all we’d need is better data to explain it. But love is transporting. It carries us beyond our everyday selves and makes reality shine with an inner light. The reverse can also happen. We crash to earth when the wear and tear of relationships makes love fade.

The process of love is kept alive by evolving and not getting stuck. Infatuation is an early stage of the process. You bond with another person as if by alchemy, but in time the ego returns with the claims of “I, me, and mine.” At that point love must change. Two people must negotiate how much to share, how much to surrender and how much to stand their ground. It would be tragic if romance faded into everyday familiarity, but it doesn’t have to.

Beyond the stage of two egos negotiating for their own interests, there is deepening love. It doesn’t try to turn the present into the past. A married couple of twenty years isn’t still infatuated with one other. So what keeps the process alive? For me, the answer was revealed by reading a startling sentence from the Upanishads, which are like a textbook of spiritual understanding. The sentence says, “You do not love a spouse for the sake of the spouse but for the sake of the self.”

At first glance this seems like a horrible sentiment: We all love on a personal basis and we expect to be loved the same way, for ourselves. But if “self” means your everyday personality, there is much that isn’t very lovable about each of us and as a marriage or relationship unfolds, there’s a guarantee that our partners will see those unlovable things more clearly. Even a knight in shining armor might want to save more than one damsel, and even saint must use deodorant once in a while.

In the world’s wisdom tradition, “love” and “self” are both universal. They exist beyond the individual personality. The secret of love is to expand beyond the personal. When people say that they want unconditional love, they often imply that they want to be loved despite their shortcomings, issues and quirks. But that’s nearly impossible if love remains at the personal level. At a certain point, if you begin to see love itself as your goal, universal love is more powerful and secure than personal love.

The poet Rabindranath Tagore described the spiritual side of love in a single expression” “Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.” The gift of human awareness is that we can locate the source of creation in ourselves. By going deeper into the self, asking “Who am I?” without settling for a superficial answer, the ego-personality fades. A sense of the true self begins to dawn, and it is this self that exists in contact with love as the only reality.

The journey becomes more fascinating if someone else travels with you. Life isn’t about abstractions; it’s about experience. If you have a beloved who stands for the feeling of love, bonding, and affection, your journey has a focus that can’t be supplied merely by thinking. The experiences that love bring include surrender, devotion, selflessness, giving, gratitude, appreciation, kindness and bliss. So if the phrase “universal love” seems daunting or improbable to you, break it down into these smaller experiences. Pursue them, and you will be traveling in the direction of your source, where the true self and true love merge.

That’s where my spoiler alert comes in. Announcing the secret of love cuts short the actual experience. It doesn’t always help to know what’s coming, because you might fall into exaggerated expectations and fall short. It’s better and more realistic to become aware that love is now your personal project. Show kindness and gratitude. Speak about what your beloved means to you. Every step on this journey works on behalf of the two of you but also on behalf of the self that unites you at the deepest level.

Interests and Behaviors in Sexuality

Sexuality ContinuesSexuality between consenting adults is a natural and healthy experience and expression of sexual involvement.  It is important to view sexuality positively; respecting and accepting  diverse values and beliefs.  Individuals, communities, and society reap great benefits when  attitudes of tolerance and acceptance of sexual preference is openly discussed.  Internal and external peace are exuberant and social connection harmonizes.

Attractions, desires, fantasies, and life choices vary from person to person and understanding the fluidity of the life cycle and personal choices can unite us.

Sexual preference transforms in various forms such as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, fluid, and queer.  There are also several types of sexual activity and classifications; for instance sexual intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation, S&M, bondage, and tantric.    These identities are valid and completely normal.  It is just as typical to be attracted to both genders, engage in heterosexual and homosexual activity as it is to be attracted to just one gender.  It’s a matter of genetics, personality, personal choice, and can even change over time.  It is fluid and evolves as we change throughout our lifetime.  It is an individual predilection and genetic make-up that cannot be affected by the influence of others.

Sexual identity naturally changes as our drive and desire transforms as much as humans logically change over time.  It is dependent on our psyche, life experiences, self exploration, belief systems and personal acceptance.  What attracts us and arouses us is extremely variable. At various stages in one’s life, a person may identify as heterosexual, only to get to a point later in life where they can acknowledge that they are also attracted to members of their own gender. At that point, they may decide to identify as bisexual.

Similarly, someone who has identified as gay might discover that they are attracted to someone of another sex, and their self-identification may change because of their experience. It is common and not strange or uncanny to change sexual identity.  Sexual attraction is a personal endeavor and cannot be converted or influenced by anyone else.  Biology, physiology, and psychology components make it difficult to change an individual’s sexuality.  Gay or lesbian sexual orientations cannot be transformed to heterosexual and vice versa.

Sexual studies have proven that people’s sexual attractions and sexual identification cannot be changed by peer or societal pressure. It is an assumption that everyone is born heterosexual, and that it takes an experience with someone who is already gay, lesbian or bisexual to “convert” a person to being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Many gay, lesbian, and bisexuals are aware that they have non-heterosexual attractions from the age of three with no adaptation or sexual experiences necessary.

Bisexuality is having the ability to find people of more than one sex attractive.  It’s the capability of being attracted sexually and/or romantically to members of more than one sex. You don’t need to have had sex with someone of the opposite sex to be a heterosexual, or to have had sex with someone of the same sex to know you are a homosexual – you just know what you like and what you find attractive. If you know that you find people of more than one sex to be eye-catching and sexy, you may call yourself bisexual, whether or not you ever have sex with partners of more than one sex.  It’s all a matter what we accept about ourselves and our willingness to express it within our community or to society. Bisexuality is also varied in terms of attractiveness.  Some people find themselves equally attracted to men and women, but many bisexuals find that they are more attracted to people of their own sex, or more attracted to people of another sex. It’s a matter of identifying what group or particular community; straight/heterosexual or queer/homosexual you can relate to most.   The attraction to one or more genders is proportioned differently for each person and can change with time as well. A person may be attracted to one sex forty percent of the time, and members of another sex sixty percent of the time when they are sixteen and then change at the age of thirty-five to seventy-five percent and twenty-five percent.   Bisexuality is not an excuse or a prerogative to have sex with whomever and whatever you want at any given opportunity.  Bisexuals are not sex fiends and just as normal in their sexual frequency as homosexuals, heterosexuals and other Trans identity.

Bisexuals may even be celibate.   Bisexuals in conjunction with any other kind sexual identity have a variety of kinds of relationships over the course of their lives; from one-night-stands to long-term, committed relationships, and they are just as likely to be responsible, loving, faithful partners as anyone else.   Bisexuality doesn’t mean you must have a male and a female partner to feel fulfilled. While some feel best in unconventional relationships where they have more than one partner of whatever sex or gender; it’s not a requirement for being bisexual.  Bisexuals have the same feelings and emotions as all humans.  Persons who consider themselves bisexual bond, fall in love, and have committed relationships.  And like everyone else, bisexuals are capable of being fulfilled or unfulfilled in their relationships dependent on the health of the relationship. Being bisexual doesn’t mean you are hiding the fact you really are gay or lesbian.  It’s still as difficult to pass or identify yourself as gay, bisexual or transgender in our society.  Heterosexuality is falsely accepted as the norm.

People of bisexual nature are not the same as individuals who consider themselves straight.  It may be confusing at times to see a person romantically involved with a person of the same sex and then a few months or years later romantically involved with a person of the opposite sex.   There shouldn’t be an automatic assumption that same-sex partners are gay and a bisexual person with an opposite-sex partner is straight.  A bisexual person doesn’t change their identity from gay or lesbian to heterosexual, they are bisexual consistently.

Having sex with a person of the same sex, doesn’t mean you are gay or bisexual.   The way you choose to identify yourself is up to you. The only person who can determine personal labels is you.

Be realistic and truthful about what that may mean for you in terms of knowing how to have safer sex with someone of the same sex as you.  Bisexuality is not the determent to spreading STI/HIV/AIDS because people of such orientation have sex with homosexuals and heterosexuals.   Sexual preference is not the culprit; unprotected sex with infected partners and passing it to an uninfected partner is the origin of the problem.  It is the responsibility of each person to be honest, conscientious and make healthy sexual choices.

Borderline Personality, Codependency, and Love Addiction

cycle of addiction

Borderline Personality tendencies, codependency, and love addiction are self-destructive behavioral patterns. Each personality seeks constant approval and love from others while abandoning themselves. Through people pleasing, compulsivity, and dependent patterns of behavior, a sense of self is lost. Relationship dynamics runs the extremes from idealization and domination to being controlled. The extremes create a false sense of safety, self-worth, and identity. This articles covers the characteristics of all three behavioral types and relates it to the cycle of addiction.

Everyone embraces some cycle of addiction, whether it be the way you towel off after a shower or mindlessly move through the grocery aisles. Regardless of the activity, the ritual involves unconscious thoughts, feelings and actions that repeats cyclically.

There are four parts to the cycle of addiction. The first stage is preoccupation, the second is the ritual, the third is acting out, and the fourth phase is feelings of guilt and shame.

Many dynamics of relationships exist but for the purpose of this article, codependency, borderline tendencies, and love addiction will be discussed with an emphasis of the cycle of addiction.

During the first stage, thoughts begin to preoccupy themselves with a lover. Persons consume the majority of their time and attention toward their imago. The imago is the image we place on our partner who mirrors our original caretakers. The psychological term for this is transference. The image feels right because it is familiar much like eating macaroni and cheese. Admiration for their partner is comfort food that feeds the attraction to excitement, chaos, and emotional intoxication.

The intense attraction is due to an unconscious drive to heal and resolve childhood wounds. This overwhelming state of infatuation is part of the first stage of addiction called preoccupation. During this phase, the love addict feels high (emotional intoxication) as parental fantasies to heal the abandonment, emptiness, and lack of self-worth are perceived to be met even if for a splitting moment. Thoughts and energy of their partner preoccupy all the love addict’s time. The majority of the day is conceiving ways to hold onto them and bring them closer so that they don’t abandon them.   Love addicts relinquish total control and power to their partner.   Any sense of spiritually becomes impaired as a grandiose persona transfers to their image.

Love addicts relation to family, friends, and personal care begin to change during the second phase of addiction. This stage is called ritual. Compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of their partner override any sense of independence.   Control completely transfers to other. Love addicts become dependent with learned helplessness and neediness. Trust and judgment projects on their partner and smashes their personal values and feelings. Love addicts give up control while abandoning themselves and becoming dependent on their lover to make personal decisions.   Over time love addicts’ careers, relationships, and personal care diminish.

Love addicts deny and refuse to open their eyes to the reality of their false, fantasy love. Similarly, codependents do not acknowledge their partner’s defensive wall, inability for real connection, and love themselves. Codependent relationships create enmeshment just as love addicts take on their partner’s morals and values and blur boundary lines. Relationships are viewed through unconsciously filtered fantasy. Relational dynamics continues between colossal cycles of intense passion and extreme anger. The sense of excitement in the emotional extremes is drunken in like an alcoholic drinks whiskey. The high of emotional intoxication deepens to obsessiveness that then is mistaken for authentic love.

The third period is acting out. Negative consequences of lost identity, irresponsible behavior, and diminishing life conditions are overlooked. Symptoms of loneliness, despair, and self-hatred continue in a downward spiral of intolerable circumstances. Self-worth bottoms and depression creeps in.

As the spiral continues downward, bottom hits with feelings of guilt and shame making up the fourth stage. Love addicts feel stuck as if they cannot cope on their own. Codependents feel they need their partner to survive just as a dependent child. Guilt, shame, internalized anger and resentment grow until the pain is too great, and the hurt is too much to bear. Finally, a glimmer of hope emerges, and awareness unfolds. Denial slowly lifts as light shines down on their partner’s defenses, emotional unavailability, controlling, and manipulating behavior. Further consciousness arises in financial and career sacrifices if they still have a job. Understanding of their isolation surfaces the notions of little contact if any with family and friends. It’s a rude awakening to the mess.

Shame and guilt stage causes love addicts to feel like failures, remain hopeless and lose sight of their discovery. Consequently, they fall deeper into depression. Denial sets in again to lighten the pain, and the cycle begins again.

Borderline personalities obsess again about their partner thinking they will save them from their misery. Codependents shift independence to dependence and as they stay in the relationship; prolonging the cycle of addiction.

Commonly borderline personalities, codependents, and love addicts develop from an alcoholic family or dysfunctional family who are narcissistic, unable to allow another to have an independent self, and cut-off emotionally. The personality types yearn for real connections and intimate relationships yet don’t know how and continue to play cat and mouse.

Childhood hurt and rage from parental abandonment, neglect, and emotional abuse leads to internalizing thoughts of being bad. The child splits the image of his desire internalizing it as bad and places a good internal object-image onto their caretakers.

If a child’s needs of nurture, mirroring of feelings and thoughts, and care lack, the child continues to split parts of themselves; internalizing they are bad, and their parents are good. This pattern is a defensive survival technique so that the child can tolerate the abuse in an environment where he is dependent.   As adults, a bad internalized image persists as a worthless and inadequate identity thus the perceived need to latch on to others for an identity. The wounded adult attracts partner’s who replicate their parents and place the externalized fantasy image of real parts onto their partner ultimately giving them all power and control.

Awareness of the similarity of borderline personalities, codependents, and love addicts can shed light and understanding of internal emotional drivers of behavior. New knowledge brings more choices and the more power and control for healthy, respectful, and loving thoughts, feelings, and actions. Understanding how one’s personal cycle of addiction originated can then begin to find ways to break the cycle and healing can begin. The goal is to feel whole (independent) while having the capacity to give and receive love.

Mother-Daughter Relationships

While searching the internet on mother-daughter relationships I was drawn to an article on, “Mother-Daughter Envy: Truth or Fable?” by Dr. Terri Apter.  The article mentions viewpoints throughout history from Helene Deutsche to Rebecca Walker and her perspective on the “Electra Syndrome” and Dr. Phyliss Chesler.

Helene Deutche obtained her doctorate in psychological medicine in a time when women rarely were granted to chance to achieve higher education.  In 1925 she wrote the first book by a psychoanalyst on women’s psychology; “The Psychology of Women’s Sexual Functions”.

The book and her work were influenced by her studies with Freud and her personal conflicts with her mother.  She felt problems are caused in women from a variance between narcissism and a mother’s love.

Like Freud, her theoretical model for female development presumes women must compensate for their lack of a penis; penis envy.  She emphasizes feminine masochism, passivity and gives a biological basis to these qualities.  Her theories seem to put the stamp of inevitability on self-denigrating female behavior and thus to justify women’s oppression throughout history.

Next in the article, Rebecca Walker’s perspective on the Electra Syndrome is explained.  The Electra Syndrome is a Freudian concept that a girl, like a boy is originally attached to the mother, however during the psychosexual developmental stage she discovers she lacks a penis and becomes libidinally attached to her father.  She imagines being impregnated by him while she becomes hostile toward her mother.  According to the theory, penis envy leads to resentment toward her mother, who is believed to have “castrated” her.” The hostility towards the mother is then later revoked for fear of losing the mother’s love, and the mother becomes internalized.

Dr. Phyliss Chesler argues double standards still exist in mental health and illness and women are often burdened with labels of gender, race, class, or sexual preference.  She is an activist for women’s rights, equality and studies women, culture and their affects upon society.

The article expresses unique viewpoints on mother-daughter envy and it brought forth memories of my own experiences with my mother.  As a child, I felt as if I could never satisfy or please my mother.  There was a constant struggle to receive love from her.

I was also jealous of the attention and dedication given to the men in her life.  She catered toward their needs, foregoing her own desires, identity and I felt like an afterthought.  She easily became angry with me; perhaps through her own lack of central identification and self-love.  Whatever the reason, I became the source where she relinquished her frustrations.   She reacted with demeaning words, uncontrollably slapping me in a circular motion, hitting me with her shoe or even throwing the drink from my hand in my face.

As I became a teenager, I grew beyond my years.  I looked like I was eighteen when I was thirteen.  I was tall and slender with full, voluptuous breasts.

My mother aimed to protect me even though I felt berated for the way I dressed.  A daughter’s public exposure and repudiation of her mother is still prominent even in these modern times.

I dressed like any other teenage girl, but well-endowed features made it appear as if I was initially dressing scantily.   As we walked down the street, drivers periodically drove by yelling cat calls.  My mother shamed me into thinking their behavior is demeaning and men yell at any woman who dresses like a slut.  She said, “It isn’t any indication that you are attractive; they look at you as a piece of meat.”  I felt I had done something wrong when in fact I was innocent.  I was naïve but I wasn’t initially going out of my way seeking attention by men.  Her reaction made me think I was the one at fault and I behaved badly.

I didn’t see it at the time but as I look back, she was envious.  She disguised the envy with displays of protectiveness, tenderness and love.  She had a strange competitiveness that led her to undermine me as almost every turn.   She feared my sexuality as she was resentful of my own pleasure, admiration and fun.  She certainly had concerns about sex and sexuality.  She conveyed the message “You are a strong, young woman but you are unaware of your vulnerability.”  It was a combination of maternal protectiveness yet jealousy of my youth and her traditional, old-fashioned values to deny and suppress female desire.   She was a big advocate not to have sex outside marriage even though she lost her virginity outside her first marriage at the age of nineteen.  She was a hypocrite in her preaching and value system.  Her actions did not follow her teachings.  As I matured, I looked at things in a more realistic manner and tried to understand what was right for me.

She did encourage masturbation and exploration of your body.  It went against her traditional value system, but a good lessoned I have learned as I explored my own sexuality as an adult.  Self-exploration brings awareness and an ability to communicate what you like when you are finally in bed with someone whom you care about.  You are then able to share your desires openly, confidently and sensually.

The article offered different perspectives on the relationships between a mother and daughter.  The dynamics can sway between a mother’s good intentions, personal regret, lack of personal identification and oblivion to her own emotional input to her daughter’s well-being.   Mothers may envy their daughters’ youth, sexuality, ambition, and freedom.

On the other hand, a daughter may feel negative emotions of envy, criticism and shame toward her mother and/ or her accomplishments.  It is difficult when conflict or condemning viewpoints exist between traditional and liberal values or variances of both.

Regardless both are detrimental to the relationship.  The mother- daughter relationship is critical and influential in both women’s lives.  It reflects and measures self-love, self-worth, acceptance and tolerance of others and respect and open mind for unique perspectives.  Their relationship is extremely impactful throughout their lifetime and affects adult relationships, intimacy and connection.  The ability to let go and forgive each other and establish your own self-worth can create the kind of relationship warranted beyond their own.

Building Blocks for a Successful Relationship from Meeting to Marriage

I came up with an eight step system for individuals looking for a long and lasting relationship.  After much personal experience, observation and research, I have discovered these steps provide a greater chance for a lifelong partner versus just a one night stand.  These steps are not ingrained in stone and there are certainly rare and wonderful cases where a one night stand can turn into a successful marriage.  However to increase your chances, I have determined these steps provide the proper criteria and mind set for marriage.

Building Blocks for a Successful Relationship from Meeting to Marriage

First Three to Six Months

1.  Meet

  • Encounter at work, school, gym, grocery store, running/ walking club, art/ writing class, workshop, or any personal interest group.

2.  Establish a Friendship

  • Treat each other as buddies.  No pressure for sex and truly get to know the person without expectations for the future or external demands.  In this type of relationship, you are permitted to be yourself and learn each other’s character, values and beliefs.

3.  Set Boundaries and Stand-up for your principles and viewpoint

  • Be willing to end the relationship if they aren’t met.   You may be surprised how the relationship turns for the better after someone takes a stance if there is something special brewing between the two of you.

Six to Nine Months

4.  Continue to build boundaries; working on polite yet assertive communication.

5.  Respect

  • Respect naturally forms if there is admiration and deference toward each other.  Appreciate signs of mutual respect such as thoughtfulness, consideration, politeness and respect of privacy.  Small considerate actions mean the most.

Nine Months to a Year

6.  Love is revealed

  • Revel in your love, tender affection and romantic desires and longing for each other.

Year to Two Years

7.  Persevere the relationship

  • Steadily persist in consistent thoughtful actions toward each other despite problems or difficulties if they exist.

8.  Marriage

  • Make a 100% Commitment.  Be willing to work and give the relationship hundred percent; through thick and thin; the good and the bad times. During difficult times, look for the positives and enjoy your spouse more each day. You may be pleasantly surprised how your spouse responds; naturally reacting nicer.  An amazing transformation will eventually occur, illuminating happier times together.
  • There is a remarkable difference between a commitment of 99% and 100%. At 100%, you are seeing your problems all the way through to their solutions. At 99% we can still find a way to take the path of least resistance…and usually do.

Monogamy

Monogamy is marriage to one person at a time or the practice of having one sexual partner. The modern world has presented so many choices and opportunities to connect and reconnect, venturing into matrix’s never conceived possible.  All the options can be overwhelming, confusing and exciting at the same time.  Is there a right or wrong anymore?

As humans evolve, we are more open-minded and willing to experiment to find the right answer as individuals not as society dictates.  History has presented the case that traditional methods may not be natural or provide the best solution for a happy couple.

The definition of monogamy strikes me as being quite hypocritical.  If you are truly ‘monogamous’ doesn’t that mean you are committed to the relationship through thick and thin; no matter the circumstances.  Thus divorce is not an option. If that is the case, divorce and affair statistics indicate the majority of humans are not monogamous.

My grandparents are a typical example of a monogamous relationship.  They married as virgins in their mid-twenties and remained together for over fifty years.  In the beginning, they shared a loving relationship, sleeping in the same bedroom, engaging in passion and giving birth to two children as my grandfather worked for AT&T his entire life and my grandmother remained home while she raised the children.  The roles were defined.  My grandmother nurtured the children, cooked all meals, and cleaned the inside of the house.

My grandfather worked during the day, washed the dishes after dinner every night and took care of the outside of the house on the weekends; mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, painting the exterior, and fixing any broken appliances.  He also ensured the American flag was positioned properly on holidays and times of mourning.  He took great pride in his country and taking good care of the flag was part of our family.

As time progressed, my grandparents moved to separate bedrooms and I really can’t recall them being affectionate toward one another.  It’s as if they just became roommates; not necessarily even friends.  I remember a lot of fighting, bickering and bantering.  They tolerated disrespectful and demeaning behavior from each other.  It was just the way it was.

My parents on the other hand lived a different lifestyle.  Since they came from difficult childhoods, they clung onto their first love, married soon thereafter, gave birth to me, divorced, and continued their quest for love as they married and divorced repeatedly.  They moved from one city to the next living the life dictated by society in hopes of fulfilling their personal voids.

My Dad is single and now searching for his fifth wife.  My Mom is on her fourth marriage and called me after one month of dating and stated, “I am getting married!  We are having the reception and wedding at Millerridge Inn in July, we are going to St. Lucia for our honeymoon, I want you to be my Maid of Honor, Carrieann is going to be my Bridesmaid and the color of the dresses are mint green; I already picked the style of the dress.

I was in shock after only dating for a month; she is getting married and knows all the details of the wedding.  I thought, did you two get to know each other or just discuss the details of the wedding for the past month.  Anyway, I have no reason to judge as long as she is happy at least for the next six years that’s all that matters.

The ‘new’ definition for monogamy should read, stay married to one person as long as the love and lust lasts and then you are free to divorce.   My parent’s history shows monogamy lasts for six years and then it is time to find a new person.  Is that really monogamous?   Is that true commitment?

Now that I have witnessed two generations of bad relationships, I’m wondering is monogamy natural.  It appears I am not the only one thinking this as I read many articles, studies and meet friends who are willing to experiment.  They set their own rules.  Some engage in full intercourse with others and some just flirt or share fantasies or dirty talk with others.  As long as the couple is open with their communication they are happy to allow their partner to interact with others.

Personally I find the later healthier than the two scenarios depicted by my grandparents and parents and couple’s who stay married but have affairs on the side.  At least the younger generation is willing to expose their personal desires and aren’t afraid of judgment or cynicism from other’s.  That takes great strength and confidence; two things I greatly admire.