Cupid's Poisoned Arrow Topics

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.

Protect Your Appetite for Pleasure

Woman eating with brain lit up

New research reveals a spiral of dissatisfaction from over-stimulation.

In a recent post (Intoxicating Behaviors), I suggested that today's super-enticing fattening food and hyper-stimulating sexual videos could numb most brains' pleasure response if their owners overdo it enough. This week, new research confirmed that too much stimulation indeed progressively numbs the brains of people who engage in it, decreasing their satisfaction. It also points to a way out.

“How I Recovered from Porn-related Erectile Dysfunction”

For the most current information about this phenomenon, visit Is my erectile dysfunction (ED) related to my porn use?

A 28-year old heals his chronic copulatory impotence.

guy waiting"As Porn Goes Up, Performance Goes Down?" recounted that men were reporting erectile dysfunction in connection with Internet porn use—even in their twenties. The response was astonishing. The item has been read tens of thousands of times, and numerous heavy porn users have confirmed that they are indeed experiencing loss of erectile potency. It seems that masturbation "ain't what it used to be." Free, streaming, hyper-stimulating videos are a relatively recent, and surprisingly problematic, phenomenon.

Intoxicating Behaviors: 300 Vaginas = A Lot of Dopamine

Why Are Porn and Junk Food So Tempting?

sexy waitress with foodAlmost monthly, new research confirms that food can cause drug-like brain changes. Food and sex are known as "natural reinforcers." That is, they aren't drugs, but our brains light up for them so we reach for more without thinking.

Still, the concept that "food can cause obesity because it is like a drug" is perplexing. After all, our rather buff ancestors ate a lot, and quite evidently were enthusiastic about sex. Yet becoming dangerously hooked didn't seem to be much of a risk. Didn't their brains light up for food and sex? Yes, of course. The difference is that they weren't surrounded by superstimulating, synthetic versions of food and sex.