Is a cuddle better than sex?

Don't panic if the passion is gone. New research says it's hugs not hanky-panky that keeps couples together

footsies25 July, 2011 Recently, I met a few close female friends for dinner. As is the way on these occasions, the talk swiftly turned to relationships. Tellingly, the topic of marital sex — or more accurately, the lack of it — was a big issue among this group of fortysomething women, many of whom have either young children, husbands with demanding jobs or high levels of financial stress. ‘We hardly ever have sex these days,’ admitted my friend and lecturer Jo, 37.

An Uncanny Love Potion

couple kissingI went through a number of disastrous relationships. Finally, I decided, "Why date real people? Who needs the nonsense? If I have porn, I don't need anyone." So I closed myself off to the world, worked, watched TV, watched porn...and got fat. A few years ago, I took a long, hard look at myself, and decided that I could not keep living the way I was. I used to be very active and an athlete. I had basically fallen into "the pit."

A recent study assures us that romantic, sexually active, long-term relationships are possible...for a mere thirteen percent of lucky couples.

Some Like It Warm

Cover of 'Psychologies' magazine

Here's an attempt to explain the karezza-type approach to sex and bonding behaviors in a mainstream magazine in the United Kingdom.

by Mary Sharpe "SEX: Why It's Not All About Orgasms" "...She and her current partner have nicknamed the practice 'riding the wave.' "The idea is that instead of having foreplay to create a need to release, or orgasm, we have a slower, more connecting way of being intimate." Read more

Guys Who Gave Up Porn: On Sex and Romance

Today's media equates "sex positive" with zeal for orgasm. According to this formula, the more orgasms we demand, deliver or procure, the more "sex positive" we are. This makes Internet porn and sex toys, with their ability to override our normal sexual appetites so we can orgasm when we otherwise could not due to satiation, the most "sex-positive" inventions in all of human history. Or does it?

This definition of "sex positive" rests on a misunderstanding of how intense stimulation can potentially numb the pleasure response of the human brain. It also discounts the gifts of flirty exchanges, and human touch exchanged with a trusted mate. Given that affectionate touch and enduring relationships are generally positively associated with increased wellbeing, these omissions are especially unfortunate.

For reasons that lie at the heart of evolution, our brains are extremely responsive to today's super enticing versions of food and sex, such as junk food and Internet erotica. Alas, more is not better for some brains; it desensitizes them. This is why many of us are obese and/or furiously fertilizing our screens—yet feel more dissatisfied than ever. Recovering porn users describe their experiences with desensitization:

Sex and Morality: A Debate Between Competing Neurons

compassMorality lies not where we think it does

This post is about morality, but not about a particular moral agenda. It's about how your inner compass works. Whatever your moral code, if you or your loved ones occasionally do things that violate it, read on.

Moral decisions (including sexual ones) do not invoke a specific "moral sense" in the brain. They rely on a brain mechanism that influences all choices: our reward circuitry.

"Scientists at Harvard University have found that humans can make difficult moral decisions using the same brain circuits as those used in more mundane choices related to money and food.

Staying in Love Monkey-Style

tamarin monkey pairThe Lazy Way to Stay in Love pointed out that humans are pair bonders, with the unique ability to strengthen their romantic bonds at will. We do so by employing a special range of subconscious signals, or "bonding behaviors"

These behaviors (technically, attachment cues) include skin-to-skin contact, sensual kissing, gentle stroking, wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure, hugging or silent spooning, smiling with eye contact, caressing of breasts, penis holding, playful intimacy, relaxed intercourse, and so forth. Used daily, they effortlessly increase relationship satisfaction because they bypass the yakety-yak of our cerebral cortex and make a beeline for our limbic brain.

Tantric Sex for Men

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Tantric Sex for Men by Diana and Michael Richardson is a great companion to Cupid's Poisoned Arrow. The terminology is not remotely scientific, but if you're trying to master effortless lovemaking, such as karezza, it is an excellent resource, and full of practical suggestions. As Gary said,

It explores and describes a whole different way of making love. The stillness. No efforting. Simply allowing erections to rise and fall. Allowing the energy to move us. It's really about getting our fulfillment from something deeper.

Sex, Abundance and Sustainability

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Crater LikeIf you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place. This is because the mind is the governing aspect of a human life. Eliminate mental muddiness and obscurity; keep your mind crystal clear. Quiet your emotions and abide in serenity. --Hua Hu Ching (collection of Daoist wisdom) Nervous about the Dow? Try the Dao. Esoteric traditions teach that our thoughts shape our experience of reality. In today's world, where structures that once seemed granite-solid are shattering like falling icicles, what ability could be more welcome than using conscious thoughts to bring about abundance, sanity and sustainability for a change?