Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In the News: Lust Can Lead to Love

It turns out that love at first sight actually is possible — and so is a long-term relationship that begins with sex on the first date. That’s because “the same regions of the brain that control love also control sex — indicating that sexual desire can actually morph into love,” so says a recent study. Researchers reviewed brain activity of 20 people and found that both love and sexual desire activate a region of the brain called the striatum, showing a “continuum from sexual desire to love.” In another part of the brain called the insula, researchers found another overlap of sexual desire and love, indicating that in many cases “sexual desire transitions into love, and the feelings aren’t separate.”

So there you go: as Lindy West, a writer at Jezebel says, here’s proof that “love can grow out of a sweaty one-night stand.” …But just because lust can turn into love, doesn’t mean it always does or that you necessarily have better odds at achieving a long-lasting relationship if you jump into bed with someone right away. This scientific discovery doesn’t sweep away all the reasons that it may be wise to wait. And there are good reasons — reasons that don’t have everything to do preserving purity or playing by some archaic dating rules, as Jezebel’s West seems to believe. She writes: “If you do want to have sex, and he wants to have sex too, then what the fuck is stopping you? Objectively? What is it? Some made-up rules about the purity of your vagina? Please.”

Well, no, maybe what’s stopping people aren’t some made-up rules about the purity of their vaginas, but the desire to get to know someone before lust and all those chemicals released during sex cloud one’s judgment. Maybe people have religious reasons for waiting to consummate their burning passion. Maybe people want to wait until they’re sober. Or until they’ve stopped dating other people. Or until they know their date’s birthday and middle name. Maybe they want to build a relationship first and feel like the sex is a continuation of their love and not the other way around. Just as it’s perfectly fine to have sex on a first date, there are also perfectly legitimate and reasonable justifications for waiting til the second date or third date or first anniversary to have sex. And the desire to wait doesn’t automatically make one a prude or an anti-feminist. I mean, good lord, does every decision that is a decision your grandmother might approve of have to be some anti-progressive statement? The opposite of moving forward doesn’t equal making decisions that are best for you personally. No, the opposite of moving forward is mocking people’s decisions simply because they aren’t the ones you would make.

[via MSNBC and Jezebel]

25 comments… add one
  • CatsMeow July 10, 2012, 12:28 pm

    “I mean, good lord, does every decision that is a decision your grandmother might approve of have to be some anti-progressive statement?”

    No, not necessarily. But if you’re making a decision that your grandmother makes for the SAME REASONS that she was compelled to make those decisions, then yes, that could possibly be an anti-progressive statement. If you make the decision based on your grandmother’s beliefs that you’re “dirty” or “loose” or god forbid, a SLUT for having sex “too soon” – or because of the more popular belief today, that “giving it up” “too soon” couldn’t possibly lead to a LEGITIMATE relationship – then yes, that is anti-progressive.

    I think the purpose of feminism is to free us of these other beliefs and allow us to make the decisions that ARE best for ourselves, for our OWN reasons – not the ones people try to shove down our throats.

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    • Lili July 10, 2012, 12:30 pm

      Here Here Cats!

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    • Fabelle July 10, 2012, 12:46 pm

      Yeah, I agree. And to expand– a lot of the hypothetical reasons-to-wait listed here are still based in “I am a slut if I ‘give it up’ too soon.” Waiting isn’t un-feminist or anti-progessive, but certain lines of thought leading to that decision CAN be. Just like there can be a backwards logic to NOT waiting– “I can do whatever I want!” You can, but do you want to? I think people just need to try & process their own emotions in these situations, rather than relying on societal pressures/internalized guilt/articles that go back-and-forth on what action is more likely to achieve a “long-lasting” relationship.

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  • landygirl July 10, 2012, 12:30 pm

    It happened to the Go Gos.

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  • Elanie May July 10, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Wendy, you left out the first part of Lindy West’s quote, where she agrees with you!

    The whole quote:
    “(Obviously if you don’t want to have sex—if you have concerns about STIs or intimacy or you’re just not sure you like this dum-dum—then you absolutely should not have sex. The sex-having isn’t the issue. The point is that if you do want to have sex, and he wants to have sex too, then what the fuck is stopping you? Objectively? What is it? Some made-up rules about the purity of your vagina? Please.) Which got me thinking—who invented this system, who benefits from it, and who perpetuates it?”

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  • bittergaymark July 10, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Women may instantly fall in love with somebody they bang on the very first date, I suppose. But most men sure don’t.

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    • lets_be_honest July 10, 2012, 12:56 pm

      Well, its not saying its instant, its saying it can lead to love. Kinda stating the obvious though, anything can lead to love, right?

      I’ve mentioned before that my relationship began as a friendship that lead to a strictly FWB situation because I was anti-relationship until my daughter was much, much older. We all know how that turned out…

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    • Elanie May July 10, 2012, 1:01 pm

      Dan Savage’s 17 year marriage began with a one night stand. So maybe it wasn’t love at first bang, but the love grew from there. Which is what I think the study is saying.

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      • Michelle.Lea July 10, 2012, 1:14 pm

        that’s pretty much how mine started. there wasn’t love at the beginning, only lust, but it’s grown into a 6 year relationship and marriage!

    • theattack July 10, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Yeah, I firmly believe that it’s 100% impossible to LOVE someone after the first date. Sure, it can plant a seed that can grow into love, but so can anything else in the entire world.

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  • Leroy July 10, 2012, 1:36 pm

    Anti shame shamers confuse me.

    Here’s the thing. This isn’t a discovery and it doesn’t prove anything. It was a meta review of fMRI studies involving the straitum. The straitum is also involved in planning road trips and playing checkers. That doesn’t mean that either will lead to love, or sex for that matter.

    You really can not take anything printed in the popular press about neuroscience seriously. It’s like listening to toddlers talk about the world politics. Cute but ridiculous.

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    • theattack July 10, 2012, 2:40 pm

      So it’s not likely that a hot old man’s mad checker skills will make me fall instantly and madly in love with him?

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    • Rachel July 10, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Haha, my boyfriend studies neuroscience, and he is always frustrated when there is general science writing about fmri studies, because they always get it so horribly wrong.

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      • Rachel July 10, 2012, 5:04 pm

        As an atmospheric scientist, I have the same reaction to many articles about weather and climate. Like “well they technically didn’t lie…but that’s not really how it works”

      • theattack July 10, 2012, 7:42 pm

        You should totally pick apart an article like that for us and enlighten us sometime! I would be really interested in hearing about it from a scientist’s perspective.

  • Michelle.Lea July 10, 2012, 12:37 pm

    of course it’s possible! anything is possible. i think it’s completely individual, and i dont think that when you have sex necessarily correlates to when/if you break up with someone. or if you stay together. maybe it’s an indicator of if you both share the same values or not, and that can be important. but we all know that what happens at the beginning of a relationship may not be the same a few years down the road.

    and sometimes everything happens that shouldn’t, and it works out anyway.

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  • Lindsay July 10, 2012, 2:18 pm

    As others have said, this isn’t really a huge discovery. When you meet someone and sleep with them, you often know at least a few things about them and their personality, and you’re obviously somewhat attracted to them, so it’s not a stretch that you’d decide to keep seeing them.

    The problem here is that the surprise and shock that men could grow to love someone they hook up with assumes that anyone who “jumps into bed with someone” must not be looking for a relationship or must be looking for a one-night stand. That’s not always the case.

    Anyway, I’ve never seen any of these people who judge women for waiting to have sex. I think women (and men) should be free to make any choice they want without judgment, but I think it’s fairly obvious that people who don’t wait get a lot more judgment than those who do.

    I slept with the guy I’m seeing on the first date (after five hours of talking). Though I normally don’t feel too self-conscious about my decisions, it does sort of bother me that the implications here are that you’re most likely drunk or know nothing about the person.

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  • Budj July 10, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Wow…statistically speaking they are correct. Congrats…

    The thing with waiting is different for eveyrone. I am way more likely to get attached after sex…therefore I HAVE to know if someone is right for me before I dip my stick in their breadbox….otherwise it just gets fucking messy.

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    • theattack July 10, 2012, 2:55 pm

      Ah, yes… Fucking often can be messy

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    • Eve Harrison July 10, 2012, 3:02 pm

      I get comfortable with someone after having sex with them. It’s so much easier to open up to a guy after he’s seen my stretch marks and wrinkles.
      Obviously this has gotten me in trouble 😛

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  • Eve Harrison July 10, 2012, 3:00 pm

    This article painfully reminded me of a guy I liked. Of whom I had sex with. We’re both busy so I brought up us being friends, and you know what? No response.

    I can hear the MOA’s from every corner, ha ha.

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  • AliceInDairyLand July 10, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Does this mean that it can go the other way as well? Because it lights up the same area of the brain? I really hate when Jezzie tries to evaluate a scientific discovery with so much snark…. but I feel like they took the wrong angle on this one. Also I think that putting the whole quote up above shows that Lindy wasn’t really trying to bash people who want to wait… The quote needs some context.

    Don’t we always tell people that there has to be a “sexual spark” to make things work with someone? That you can love someone but if you aren’t sexually attracted then it just won’t work? Well… maybe LOVE can lead to LUST. I feel like this is an underrated phenomenon.

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  • E July 11, 2012, 12:17 am

    I agree with Wendy. While I despise the idea of shaming women over the freedom of their sexuality, I am also getting irritated with (Jezebel, mostly) people and websites that criticize women who wait. Both sides have valid points.

    That said, I get pretty annoyed with people who become upset after they fuck a guy on the first or second date and he doesn’t call them back. I keep telling them that you take a chance whenever you have sex with a person…maybe you are not sexually compatible, etc. However, if you already know and like that person you may just chalk it up to awkwardness, etc., or give it one more shot. If you don’t know that person, you probably are not going to want to try again. Also, if the partner is a random, they may just want to have sex and not even care about who the person they are having sex with is….Eh, I’ve never had to deal with that type of stuff because I’m not into casual sex, but I don’t get why other people can’t grasp it even though it seems so obvious. I’ve had two friends who have gotten angry when the guy they slept with hasn’t called them back, and I’m always WANT to say “you don’t even know him (can you know someone after one or two dates?), so he doesn’t really owe you jack shit unless you are in a relationship or have some sort of previous friendship…” Of course, I NEVER say that….but I so want to shake them and tell them if you want to have sex with a strange guy, you have no clue how it’s going to turn out….Hell, sometimes you don’t have a clue even if you are in a relationship.

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    • Marta July 11, 2012, 1:11 pm

      The women on Jezebel are angry about everything. They are so bitter I cannot imagine that they enjoy sex at all.

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