Relationship Love and sex: why are they related

Love and sex: why are they related


Behind our mate choices lies an impulse that governs the entire animal kingdom, including humans: sexuality.

The love is a feeling, an emotion and conscious social involving lust, passion and bond between partners. Anthropologists, such as the popular Helen Fisher, have suggested that in human beings sexually based attractiveness has evolved into romantic or passionate love, a form of bond or union that, from an evolutionary perspective, tends to ensure the stability of the couple to guarantee the parental care of the offspring.


The brain of lovers causes physiological reactions and releases chemicals that are important to create that feeling of love. On the one hand, it induces the gonadal production of hormones, such as male androgens or female estrogens, that increase sexual desire.

In initial romantic love, the brain also produces stimulating substances, such as phenylethylamine or dopamine, inducing the state of euphoria and passion. And sexual contact and copulation produce the cerebral release of hormones, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, which contribute to the desire to stay together, that is, to the union or bond between these individuals.

In addition, the initial passion is characterized by the inhibition of brain substances, such as serotonin, which stabilize moods, or the deactivation of regions of the brain, such as the frontal cortex, involved in logic and reasoning. Perhaps that is why it has been said that love is blind.


Love and sex are different in that one can exist without the other; They work differently and depend on brain and hormonal mechanisms that, although overlapping, are largely different.

Thus, although both types of motivation, love and sexual, demand urgent satisfaction, sexual is usually satisfied with intercourse, while love can last even years.

However, love changes over time: the initial fieryness and passion give way to a more mature love, a more relaxed and consistent emotion, where the brains in love already secrete different substances, such as endorphins and enkephalins, inducing states less passionate relaxation, satisfaction and well-being.

Such substances are also more addictive in nature, making it difficult to overcome the separation or loss of a loved one.


But what are social emotions like guilt or romantic love for? Like the most basic emotions, social ones have also been favored by natural selection, as they have an adaptive value.

Evolutionary psychologist Robert Trivers says that without guilt, our temptation to lie could be greater, since while lying is beneficial in the short term, in the long run it can be very harmful.

Also, others are more likely to cooperate with us knowing that guilt reduces our tendency to lie. And if we lie and show guilt, we can also be forgiven.

We can give a similar explanation of romantic love. Also, evolutionary psychologist Robert Frank believes that this type of love has evolved to guarantee the union and cooperation between two people.

Certainly, love makes infidelity difficult and the risk of finding a better partner at any moment. And although couples do not have to stay together all their lives, love creates the impression that they do and, therefore, helps to stabilize the union. Likewise, jealousy helps prevent couples from breaking those commitments.

The American anthropologist Helen Fisher popularized the phrase “Do not make love with the person you do not want to fall in love with”, because she is convinced that copulation creates bonds and attachment between the members of the couple by releasing oxytocin and vasopressin.

But, at the same time, the greater development of the human cerebral cortex modifies instinctual behaviors and increases the relevance of stimuli and social conditioning factors.

In practice, romantic infidelity seems even more likely to lead to sexual infidelity, rather than the other way around. We can affirm, therefore, that, although different and, in a certain way, independent, love and sex are evolutionarily related, operating in practice with a high degree of coupling that originates a great mutual influence.

MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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