Catching feelings: the new contagion

Modern women have been stamped with the stereotype of being likely to fall in love with person they have sex with, and acting on those feelings in any way is socially unacceptable.

According to the American Psychological Association, promiscuity among women has become more common and socially acceptable due to a series of sexual revolutions dating back to the 1920s. With influences from new waves of feminism to new modes of contraception, women and society have become increasingly more open minded about female sexuality.

With these increasing amounts of casual sex, women are now facing the emotional consequences of sleeping around with less familiar partners, as well as dealing with the stigma of being “that clingy girl” if they develop feelings for someone they were intimately involved with.

While most girls aren’t looking to fall in love with the drunken guy from the bar they went home with, biology can sometimes work against them.

During sex, and more so if there is an orgasm involved, women release a hormone called oxytocin. According to Dr. Arun Ghosh who specializes in sexual health at the Spire Liverpool Hospital in the United Kingdom, when women have sex or have an orgasm with a partner, the oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle” hormone”) releases, allowing women to feel a bond and trust toward the partner they are with. This occurs because it is a primal instinct that causes women to want to stay with their mate to raise a child, because strangely enough that was the original intention for sex (who knew!).

Men, however, have been found to release more dopamine, the hormone linked to happiness, pleasure and even addiction. This can explain why men are less known to “catch feelings” with a girl they have sex with and also why men more likely to become sex addicts, with only 10-12 percent of sexual recovery patients being women, according to the Sexual Recovery Institute.

In the cave man days, these hormones did a great job of increasing the size of the human race, however it is less useful today among young adults who are simply trying to have a good time.

It seems to have become a running joke that if a guy sleeps with a certain girl, she will refuse to leave his apartment and will begin planning their wedding for the following spring.

This stereotype could lead to men deciding not to sleep with the same woman twice out of the fear that she will become attached or women feeling hesitant to text the man the next day so as to avoid the “clingy girl” stereotype. Another unforeseen consequence of this attachment is the fear of pursuing a woman after sex and being the one to get attached, thereby emasculating themselves by assuming the “female” stereotype.

While there may be some girls out there who are guilty of such eager thinking, the rest of the female population has had to suffer the embarrassing effects of this stereotype.

Though there is science to explain this stereotype, it isn’t something that holds true for all women who partake in casual sex.

“I think it’s so false,” first year international studies major Makala Rhodes said. “If you tell a girl the truth she won’t expect any more. [Boys] have this huge fear that [girls] get attached, and that makes boys think that they’re just that good . . .”

For some women, this is an important lesson to learn. This biology has the potential to affect their ability to involve themselves in casual relationships. It could be beneficial for women realize that these feelings may just be their body reacting to the sexual experience and for men to realize that some women may not be able to help wanting to form a bond with them.

Most importantly, men should know that not all women want to create a connection with a one-night stand, and the women who do aren’t crazy or clingy, they are simply more responsive to their natural instincts.

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