Some people smoke a cigarette after sex, some eat chocolate, and some have a drink. Don't waste your time reaching for a drug. You're already on one. It's called the cuddle drug.
What's the cuddle drug? The medical name is Oxytocin, not to be confused with the highly addictive narcotic Oxycodone, or the brand name, OxyContin. Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in both men and women, but for women, Oxytocin floods their systems immediately following orgasm. (Also during childbirth and breast feeding.)
And no, it doesn’t give you the munchies. It does make you feel attached to the person who triggered its release. It also can devastate you if that person disappears from your life.
The outcome? Oxytocin might make you think the shlub you just slept with is Mr. Right.
You'll know you are particularly vulnerable to Oxytocin if you have ever felt inexplicably attached to someone you just met and had sex with. Another clue is if you cry for hours when a one-night-stand doesn’t call back.
Ultimately, Oxytocin may be at play when your emotions far exceed the true bond of the relationship.
There's no shame in susceptibility -- it's biological. For women, it ensures nesting and propagation. However, if you are susceptible, you may need a little contemplation before your next date. I'm certainly not suggesting doing away with sex until marriage, or heaven forbid, foregoing your own orgasm for the sake of caution.
I am, however, suggesting you get to know yourself and the potential side effects of Oxytocin before jumping into bed with someone right off the bat. That way you can know all the facts before evaluating potential partners. As I said, being under the influence of Oxytocin may cloud your judgment.
For most of us, adding sex to a relationship often moves it to the next level of intimacy and connection, just as having sex with someone before you are in a relationship may bring potential pitfalls. I don't want to negate the joy of simply living in the moment and throwing caution to the wind. This works beautifully for some, but not always for those who have their eye on a relationship.
The concept of hormone-triggered attachment makes me wonder if our prudish foremothers knew something we didn't. Maybe our sexual openness and freedom doesn't always put us in the driver's seat. Maybe holding out for a little while offers unexpected advantages. I sometimes wonder if we are fooling ourselves into thinking we are in charge, when we are still bound by the effects of hormones and genetic programming.
And just so you know, men can fall prey to Oxytocin, too. There are fun studies out there testing whether or not giving men extra doses of the hormone will incite spooning rather than leaving. In case you are wondering, the jury is still out on that one.