Sex and the Doom Loop

Evolutionary biologists have established that nearly all couples at some point evolve from “passionate love” to something more mundane which they call “companionate love.” I suppose one could go out on a limb and suggest that the Doom Loop doesn’t apply only to jobs. We can throw sex into the equation as well.

But there may be more science involved where sex is concerned than with career management. Biologically, we are hard-wired to crave variety, and the brain is affected by variety and novelty in much the same way as it is by drugs. Newness and novelty trigger activity that involve the neurotransmitter dopamine, as do pharmacological highs.

So you meet your love, aren’t really “good at” all the intimate interactions, but you really “like it” and you’re motivated and excited. After awhile you really “get good at it,” too! But over time, the lack of newness slows down the dopamine (or whatever) and you start feeling a little apathetic and maybe a little bored. Is it Q3?


Is your sex life “doomed?”


How do you get back down to Q1? Some people solve that near term problem by having an affair or finding hookers where the newness and variety is present, the risks are high, and morality is low. Such actions rarely turn out satisfactorily for anyone, and the divorce rate in such circumstances is high. Others turn to therapy where couples can talk through problems and seek a variety of remedies for adding some spice into their sexual lives.

My cousin, Dr. Cindy Baum-Baicker, points out that two thirds of all couples’ conflicts are irreconcilable. As a psychologist, she tries to teach people tolerance – a “fertile tolerance” (her own term for the remedy) in which acceptance has personal and relationship growth as a byproduct. She suggests that perhaps there’s some similarity to what happens in the workplace for some of the 71% of the workforce..

Sex and the Doom Loop sounds as though it needs some research; but I’m not in a position to take on that challenge!

5 replies »

  1. I like to believe that with two willing partners, there can be ways to enliven a Q3 sex life. How about date nights and role playing and games and toys? Sharing anything new creates an oxytocin rush in your brain. Oxytocin is a bonding chemical. One of the reasons why sex is so much fun in the beginning is simply because its all new. In addition to everything else that is going on, your brains are being flooded with oxytocin which is increasing the bonding between the new couple. Go some place you’ve never gone before…. tried something you’ve never done before… I bet you’ll have fun just trying…

  2. Looking forward to partnering with you on the America in Denial book – have you read “hooked’? It’s a first class scientific analysis that because Oxytocin (and the male or female versoin) are bonding chemicals, ‘hooking up’ continuously with different people leading to the inability to bond with anyone of the opposite sex – like scotch tape that’s been taped to the wall too many times – bad news .

    And now back to “America in Denial ” ? OK? 🙂

    • “America in Denial” is on the front burner. Will be fun. Back from Morocco on Sept 10.

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