Awkwardette’s Ill-Advised Guide to Getting it On: Oxytocin, You Fickle Mistress

Have you ever had a hook-up that, while just a hook-up, had your knees shaking the next day just thinking about it? You’ll grin at yourself thinking of all the dirty things you did, and you feel the dreaded heart pangs, and you just can’t get that person off of your mind. I fucking hate that shit. I spend the next day in a long-term post-coital haze. I usually spend this time reading celebrity magazines, and I try to get a mani/pedi, and I shower like 10 times hoping that if I can just get the smell off of me I will be way less likely to remember it, and therefore be 10 times less crazy.

 

Bitch, I see your ass on Facebook chat and OkCupid local so I know your phone ain't dead, what gives?!?!?! #oxytocininducedhysteria

It never works.

You know what the number one pain in the ass is when a lady like me tries to casually date men? Attachment.

Attachment is a funny thing, because rarely do we have control over it. Rarely do we get to pick whom we are attached to. I am not going to pretend to claim that women have this higher capacity for attachment than men, because for one, the science is fuzzy, and for two, gender-based generalizations make me feel icky. What I can say for certain, is that my brain is keen as all hell on producing oxytocin and giving me a swift dose of it whenever I sleep with someone, which makes the whole slutting around thing way less awesome. I do indeed have a higher capacity for attachment than the men I sleep with.

What’s responsible for this madness? It might be this little thing you may have heard of called oxytocin.

Oxytoxcin is often nicknamed the “cuddle chemical.” I know, right? According to Katy Sukel (1), it’s a polypeptide hormone produced in the hypothalamus. It acts like a neurotransmitter and is basically responsible for a whole lot of stuff involving the female reproduction system, although men produce it as well. Oxytocin production is triggered by a number of things. Cuddling, looking at a baby, and according to Sukel, even micro social interactions like Twitter can give you an oxytocin boost. Oxytocin is also that motherfucker that is a huge part of the reason we are capable of “pair-bonding” (or as I experience it these days, that can’t pull yourself away from your cell phone while waiting for that douchewipe”  to text you back feeling).

Let’s make up a scenario. I will meet a guy. He seems physically attractive, but not even my “type.” There are serious things that I find unattractive in this man, but he is Attractive Enough. His personality leaves something to be desired, but like we said–attractive enough. Since we’re being all science-y, he probably has some nice smelling pheromones, right?

Oxytocin: What an asshole.

Anyway, I sleep with this guy. Sex isn’t even that good, but I apparently got hot enough for my brain to be flooded with annoying sex hormones. Who can’t I get off my mind for the next two weeks? Mr. OkayLookingNotThatInterestingMediocreSex. All I want to do is bang this guy again, but this guy and I had an arrangement of casualness, and it’s not happening fast enough for my oxytocin-raddled brain to handle it.

Often times, the only thing that cures it is sleeping with someone else who is just as unexciting.

So, imagine how powerful oxytocin really is when you genuinely like a person, and perhaps even get off with them. This is how people end up falling in love. It’s quite beautiful, except for when you really don’t want to fall in love.

The problem with this scenario is no one is at fault. My sexual partners cannot be faulted for sleeping with me when things were clearly casual, and I was honestly, completely, totally genuinely presenting it as such. I cannot be faulted when biological shit goes on in my brain making everything involving this person anything but casual.

I want to hear Neil Tyson Degrasse's take on Celine's "The Power of Love"

So what the hell is a girl to do? Has science figured out a way to hold back this obnoxious neuromodulator from getting in the way of momma gettin’ her sugar? It seems like a terrible idea even if they have, because for all that it’s shitty for, it’s responsible for some other really amazing things. Oxytocin is also why I am not a narcissistic, pathological sociopath. It’s why I’ve been lucky enough to love those I have loved with ferocity. It’s, according to a study by Marazzitti, et al. (2), “The Power of Love” incarnate. Apparently, positive social interaction when wounded triggers oxytocin production that actually helps you heal faster. All you need is love, indeed.

Except I don’t need love. Love, in the romantic sense, is the last thing I need, but I want to get off. How do I avoid this shitshow called emotions?

I mean, the answer is quite simple in that there is no answer, and I obviously don’t want to avoid emotions altogether. Emotions are half the fun when you hook up with someone you actually like, so there’s always that. And I leave you with this final study to remind us of how great emotions are, and how wonderful human interaction and all that crap can be when it’s not in the way of harmless, casual, sexy-times. So says Huey, et al.:

 

”  Related to, but not to be confused with, douchebag, douche or douchenozzle. Douchewipe is the action of wiping oneself after douching. In other words, not even significant enough to be a douche, but more of an afterthought. And yes, this is the person you are waiting to call you back.

References:

1. Sukel, Katy. Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships. (2012). New York, NY: Free Press.
2. Cited in Gouin, J.P., Carter, S., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Glaser, R., Malarkey, W.B., Loving, T.J., Stowell, J., and Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. (2010). “Marital Behavior, Oxytocin, Vaspressin, and Wound Healing.” Psychneuroendocrinology 35(7), 1082-1090.

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awkwardette

Michelle M. aka awkwardette is a multi-disciplinarian. She moonlights as an activist while earning her big bucks making the internet easier to use. She also writes about pop music on PopMinx.com and aspires to be Amelia Fletcher when she grows up. She prefers listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain when doin' it.

14 thoughts on “Awkwardette’s Ill-Advised Guide to Getting it On: Oxytocin, You Fickle Mistress”

  1. I love this so much, I finally un-lurked myself!

    Seriously though, oxytocin is a dangerous beast. I’ve gotten lots of mental exercise trying to squish  unsolicited mushy thoughts about guys who I have no honest feelings for. I’ve never had too much of a problem with it after one night with a guy, but boy did that dang hormone give me trouble when I had a friend with benefits earlier this year. The sex was excellent, but the guy was not my type at all and I wasn’t even remotely interested in him romantically. Yet like clockwork, after sex I would find myself getting googly-eyed and thinking that maybe I was wrong, that maybe I would like it if he liked me. Ugh. Damn you, oxytocin, FWB’s are for reliable booty calls, not for staring wistfully at my phone hoping for texts!

    1. I feel honored to lure you out of lurkiness!

      And frenchfry, you have no idea how much I know what you mean. I have mentally planned weddings with people who I don’t even think I would be a date to someone else’s wedding with, let alone actually be married to.

  2. If all you want to do is bang the guy again, as you say, and not walk him up the aisle to make cute ickle babies with him, then you’re on a winner. Just act like a guy (or like me *cough, cough*) and treat your memories and feelings about him as fuel for the great Orgasm Challenge (flying solo, I mean). There’s a lot of pleasure to be had in reliving, and imaginatively improving, past conquests—and if he really was a douchebag there’s no guilt attached at all to objectifying him for your personal gratification ….

    1. That is totally an awesome sentiment in theory, but would never work for me in practice. I actually do tend to masturbate way more during these oxytocin induced crazes, and it actually often leaves me feeling worse. It’s a complicated thing, my lady parts.

  3. I am very amused by this article.  I was letting out many unflattering snorts while reading it.  And I want to use the phrase oxytocin induced hysteria in a convo soon.

    I hate the feeling when you know you’re being crazy but you just can’t freakin’ help it and you wouldn’t be so crazy if he would just call you back!  Ugh,  it was terrible. Oxytocin induced hysteria blows.

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