Chemistry Between the Sexes
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sexual chemstry  When two people have good chemistry, they usually see things in life as one. They really get along well and are usually friends long before becoming lovers. Many people have tried to identify what sexual chemistry really is.

Couples should not worry when the first flush of passion dims - scientists have identified the hormone changes which cause the switch in dating from lust to cuddles.


A team from the University of Pisa in Italy found the bodily chemistry which makes people sexually attractive to new partners lasts, at most, two years.

When couples move into a "stable relationship" phase, other hormones take over.

But one psychologist warned the hormone shift is wrongly seen as negative.

Dr Petra Boynton, of the British Psychological Society, said there was a danger people might feel they should take hormone supplements to make them feel the initial rush of lust once more.

The Italian researchers tested the levels of the hormones called neutrophins in the blood of volunteers who were rated on a passionate love scale.

Levels of these chemical messengers were much higher in those who were in the early stages of romance.

Testosterone was also found to increase in love-struck women, but to reduce in men when they are in love.

But in people who had been with their partners for between one and two years these so-called "love molecules" had gone, even though the relationship had survived.

The scientists found that the lust molecule was replaced by the so-called "cuddle hormone" - oxytocin - in couples who had been together for several years.

Oxytocin, is a chemical that induces labor and milk-production in new and pregnant mothers.

Donatella Marazziti, who led the research team, said: "If lovers swear their feelings to be ever-lasting, the hormones tell a different story."


Similar research conducted by Enzo Emanuele at the University of Pavia found that levels of a chemical messenger called nerve growth factor (NGF) increased with romantic intensity.

After one to two years, NGF levels had reduced to normal.

The researchers said: "Whether more nerve growth is needed in the early stage of romance because of all the new experiences that are engraved into the brain, or whether it has a second, as yet unknown function in the chemistry of love, remains to be explored."

Michael Gross, a bio-chemist and science writer who has studied the latest findings, said: "It shows that different hormones are present in the blood when people are acutely in love while there is no evidence of the same hormones in people who have been in a stable relationship for many years."

"In fact the love molecules can disappear as early as 12 months after a relationship has started to be replaced by another chemical glue that keeps couples together."

He added: "To any romantically inclined chemist, it should be deeply satisfying to be able to prove that chemical messengers communicate romantic feeling between humans."

"It may be the only thing that science can offer as a real-world analogy to Cupid's arrows."

But Dr Boynton said: "This feeds into a 1970s view that when you meet it's all sparky, and then it's a downward trajectory to cuddles - which is seen as a negative.

"It is suggesting that what happens first is the best bit - and that isn't true."

She added: "I'm concerned that, having identified these hormones, there will be some move to suggest replacements to recreate the early passion."

Scientists have found long-sought proof that people release potent chemical signals that can have profound effects on other people.

The research settles a 40-year debate about whether humans produce and can respond to "pheromones," molecules that are usually airborne and odorless and which, in other species, influence such physiological processes and behaviors as mate choice, the recognition of one's own family members, and the ability to "smell" the difference between friend and foe.

For three decades, relationship research psychologists have been able to pinpoint behaviors in couples that lead to successful, fulfilling and enduring relationships and conversely, behaviors that are corrosive, insidious and deleterious to the bonds of love.

Over the last dozen years, such relationship data have spurred an explosion of therapeutic approaches, relationship education courses and 911-emergency-like interventions for the divorce-bound. There is a kind of science to staying in love, many psychologists and therapists agree, concrete ways to invigorate a couple's bond and to inoculate couples against the predictable lows and endemic conflicts of long-term love.

Chemistry is the inexplicable, ineffable magic that happens when two people are profoundly attracted to each other, magnetized by each other's voice, smell, body and gestures and infused by a feeling that one has hit the equivalent of the mate lottery and stumbled upon the right fit. There are biologically borne effects when a chemistry combusts between two people: feelings of pleasure, a quickened heartbeat and euphoria, elicited by the brain's love chemicals dopamine, norepinepherine and phenylethylmine.

This is why couples stay up until dawn talking, lose their appetites and experience extraordinary bursts of energy.

Overlaying the biological chemistry is a psychological chemistry, according to one theory, that is two people matching each other's mental templates for how love was expressed and received in childhood. (We are consciously seeking someone to heal the damage done in childhood, the theory posits, but in mature love learn that only we can heal our own wounds.)

Chemistry between two people is something one "cannot contrive any more than we can contrive a genuine laugh or an orgasm," psychologist John M. Gottman, an eminent relationship researcher at the University of Washington, explains in the introduction to "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"

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