Here you are again, in an oh-so familiar place. You told yourself it would be okay, that it was no big deal. That it wouldn’t affect you because you are able to separate casual and steady. So you thought to yourself, “I got this; everything is under control.” Until it’s not, and you don’t “got this” anymore.
Now here you are wondering if that’s him when your phone screen lights up. You scroll through your phone to see if he has viewed your story. As much as you try not to think of him, you do. As much as you try to control the situation and emotions, it just seems that those emotions are just a little bit stronger, and now they seem uncontrollable. You are left questioning why that, every time it seems like casual is a good idea, it somehow turns out to be a little more than you bargained for. Before you continue to seek out every conclusion possible, know there is a biological explanation for what you are experiencing.
You can contribute the way you are feeling to some vexing but necessary hormones that are important for reproduction and evolution. These hormones are the reason we feel an undeniable attraction to someone we’ve had sex with. These hormones keep us coming back for more and can, in a sense, blind us to the point where we might end up in a relationship with someone who we don’t really know much about and maybe never really wanted to date in the first place. The more we have sex with someone, the more these hormones make us feel bonded to that person, until we realize our view was obstructed. Thanks to good ol’ biology, we are momentarily blindsided by these hormones. Turns out it isn’t as simple as saying, “It’s just casual.”
This is because when we feel attracted to someone or have a sexual desire towards someone, dopamine is the main activator in the pleasure center of our brain. When we are doing things that we enjoy, dopamine is released; it produces feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. During the excitement phase of sex, the dopamine is produced and fully released at the moment of orgasm. Because orgasms give you the highest dose of natural dopamine, some scientists have compared it to the brain pattern and excitement experienced by heroin or cocaine users. Once peak occurs, prolactin takes control.
Prolactin is known as that afterglow or zzzzz moment experienced after orgasm and is also attributed to why men tend to fall asleep after sex. Prolactin can explain why, after reaching orgasm, there is sometimes a disconnect between partners, causing them to pull away from each other. It’s that peak and crash effect.
Oxytocin, on the other hand, is known as the bonding hormone. It’s released in both men and women; however, it continues to last longer in women. Oxytocin produces feelings of emotional intimacy, trust, contentment, attachment, and relaxation between people. It causes the reduction of anxiety and fear, allowing for the feelings of safety in the arms of your partner. Because women produce more of this hormone, their defences are lowered and they tend to trust people more. Therefore, they are more likely to let their guard down after sex. And because our bodies can’t distinguish whether we’re just having a casual fling or having sex with a long-term partner, oxytocin is released either way. This means that every time you have sex with that person, you are more likely to feel more and more bonded to them, which can explain why you can’t stop thinking of him, even if all you wanted was something casual.
Why is this important? With the many shifts and hormonal changes that occur during sex, it’s important to understand your body’s neurochemistry. In doing so, you can understand why you are experiencing the emotions you are feeling. By understanding your body’s biology, you can determine if it’s you who is making a conscious choice or if it’s your body that is calling the shots. This is important, because if you are trying to keep it casual, you should know that eventually, you’ll probably feel bonded to this person. It’s part of our chemistry. That way, when you start to question why you can’t stop thinking about him, you are better able to assess whether you actually want to be in a relationship with this person or if it’s just the result of pesky hormones temporarily blindsiding you.