Dating and physical chemistry

You're single and content and suddenly ambushed by an intense, intoxicating connection with someone you've just met.Intense sexual "chemistry" is a high like no other. When does intense chemistry lead to the mother lode and when does it become a death spiral?

You're simply each other's physical "type" and lack, or don't bother finding out about, any other kind of compatibility. Blatant cues come from messages about attractiveness from your culture, popular media, family and peers that you receive all your life. The first people and things that generated a strong arousal response in you when you were a child leave sensory imprints that are triggered when similar ones show up in your adult life.

You didn't necessarily identify the sensations as sexual when you were a kid, just pleasurable - the thick curly hair of a family friend that brushed your cheek when she hugged you, or the perfume and green eyes of a flirtatious cousin who tickled you.

Sometimes imprints coincide with sexual awakening such as when a kid views porn for the first time (and the average American does see porn before puberty these days).

The size, shape or ethnicity of the explicit object of desire gets seared into memory. You get hooked on repeated highs of impersonal sex with a particular physical type (masturbatory or with a partner), which hinder you from finding real intimacy in a long-term love relationship.

You had one unforgettable high chemistry sexual experience with a near stranger and you can't get it out of your head.

Lovemaking in any serious relationship now falls short of this impossible-to-repeat standard so you keep breaking up with people who could be excellent mates, but can't compete with your brightly lit sexual memory.Replaying the memory in high-def feeds and embellishes it.Extreme imprints that begin like this partially explain some paraphilias such as fetishes and voyeurism. The ebbs and flows of long-term passionate love start to seem too anemic by comparison and true closeness feels claustrophobic or like too much work.If you and your partner both recognize the intense spark of chemistry as a pure lust thing, you might pursue a brief sexual encounter and part ways once you've had your fill of each other, carrying sweet memories and no expectations. Online dating sites have made finding quick matches with physical "types" easy and tempting.A book called The Centerfold Syndrome captures this caveat well, though it was written before the Internet changed the dating and porn landscape drastically.Marnia Robinson's blog presents a fascinating look at the ramifications of getting hooked on the highs of intense chemistry. A single mind-blowing encounter becomes your new (impossible) sexual benchmark.