Sex and Love Are Developmental

Sexual health involves a commitment to integrating your maturing sexuality into your life and relationship. At whatever age, appreciate that your sexuality is a vital aspect of your personality, ripe for learning, growth, and enhanced intimacy. This includes valuing your own passion for sex, the richness of increasing understanding of your partner’s sexual feelings, and learning to enjoy and share the entire sexual experience: intimacy, pleasure, playfulness, arousal, eroticism, intercourse, afterplay.

This developmental process is demonstrated by what anthropologist Helen Fisher and other scientists describe as the three forms of love — lust, romance, and attachment. These three basic drives influence aspects of courtship, mating (reproduction), and parenting and have differing biological mechanisms. There are similarities and differences between men and women in the role of their sex drive. The essential point is that the biopsychosocial system guarantees our species’ survival with some grace and style, although you don’t have to procreate in order to justify being sexual.

Sex Drive

The drive for sex is a powerful human motivation and healthy men and women throughout history have had a profound respect for it. Sex drive is understood as libido, lust, or the craving for sexual gratification. The drive is associated primarily with androgens (testosterone) and related brain pathways effecting motivation in both sexes.

Male sex drive is stimulated to a greater degree by visual stimuli than the female sex drive. Women are more sexually aroused by romantic words, images, and themes in films and stories. Fisher suggests that the evolutional function of this difference is for the man to find a partner to procreate, so he will size a woman up for youth, health, and her ability to bear a child. Complementarily, women size up a man by her mood integration, feelings, and memory recall. Also, novelty attracts a man by increasing dopamine, which influences sex drive. Pornographers have long understood this. Magazines like Playboy are monthly magazines, not annuals. Internet promoters are constantly changing the variety of sexual stimuli to play on this interest in novelty.

Male sex drive is focused more directly on copulation, whereas the female sex drive is embedded in a wider range of stimuli. Female sexual desire is often a responsive rather than a biological or spontaneous event, greatly influenced by subjective psychological excitement. Male sex drive is more constant, whereas the female sex drive is more variable and flexible but can be more intense.

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