Welcome to stren #56. Today I want to consider the relationship between love and sex. A significant source of our problems is mistaking erotic love for mature love. Love and sex have distinct qualities. They can be experienced together or separately. Together, they can be glorious and mutually enhancing. Though our language commonly associates them, like health, wealth, and happiness, they need not go together. People can be healthy, physically wealthy, and yet quite unhappy; they may have poor health, be materially limited and yet enjoy each day. Sexual attraction need not include love and vice versa. Mature love is the catalyst to the most fulfilling sex.
1. Mature love is an unconditional gift for the benefit of one or more individuals. We originate mature love in our freedom organ, our mature cerebral cortex, and transmit it from within to without. Mature love is a self-initiated intentional act.
2. Eros or sexual gratification is primarily a response to stimulation of nerve endings prewired by nature. Stimulation signals pleasure areas located in the older part of the brain to turn on and thereafter be consciously experienced and interpreted in our cerebral cortex.
Sexual urge and filial love are regulated by chemicals. They may be turned on or turned off by hormones. Sexual appetite is also learned in higher species. We have sensory receptors located primarily in the skin and concentrated in certain areas of our genitals. These receptors are connected by nerves to the oldest portion of the brain, and produce signals that switch on what I believe to be the single most common and the third most intense physical pleasure we can experience. It may be surpassed only by direct stimulation of pleasure centers localized in the brain and the sustained emotional “high” associated with certain drugs. Once this most intense pleasure is experienced, our appetite may become voracious. Behavior that is rewarded is repeated! Think how our behavior might change if babies were born instantly and orgasm came nine months later.
Sexual pleasure is quite non-discriminating towards the source of the stimulation. Our genitals lack eyes or a brain and transmit signals in response to varied sources. Mature love, while having powerful emotional ties, is more strongly influenced by the last to develop “thinking” portion of the brain, our freedom organ. And while loving actions may be acquired from role models, love creation is a more conscious “willing” act that grows with mental and emotional maturity and the development of our skill in thought control. Infatuation, somewhat like the attraction of one magnet to another, may be a mental and emotional by-product of sexual or other emotions. It does not have the same voluntary giving quality as love.
If sexual contact is interpreted negatively, like any experience, loss of appetite and distaste may follow. I have been told by many heroin addicts that when going through withdrawal they may find that orgasms are energy-draining and not at all pleasurable. We are interpretive creatures whose use of symbols powerfully influences our experience. I find it of great interest that the same area of our older, automatically regulated brain that is dedicated to pleasure is intermingled with the instinct for physical aggression. This makes sense. If we had sexual urgency but lacked the drive to pursue it, our species would become extinct.
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