Jump to content

3 drives: sex, romance, attachment


NullVector
 Share

Recommended Posts

Has anyone else here seen/read any of Helen Fisher's talks/books? I've been listening to a few talks and podcasts by her this morning. I like that she regards romance and sex as very distinct and separable 'drives' and is finding a basis for that in brain data (incidentally, she also thinks that the romance drive is more powerful than the sex drive, which I would agree with). But I'm particularly intrigued by this idea of the brain having evolved three distinct modules/systems of circuits and neuro-chemisty for experiencing three (not two, as with the split attraction model) distinct 'drives':

 

1. Sex drive (lust)

2. Romantic love drive (limerance)

3. Attachment drive (for a long term partnership/companionship 'team').

 

This seems to me like a very helpful way to categorise things. It strikes me that aromantics might be missing some key bits of brain circuitry or neuro-chemical responsiveness for 2. but could still have all this for 1. (in the case of sexual aromantics) and/or 3. (in the case of aromantics in or seeking QPRs). Actually, when I've read descriptions of QPRs, they've basically struck me as sounding a lot like long term married couples, where the romance (limerance) has long since fizzled out, but there is a deep affection and companionship remaining that took many years to build. I think I'd be entirely capable of being in a 3 type of relationship (although not necessairily with an exclusive partner) : it's just that most people (allos) would expect (and need?) to get to 3 only via both 1 and 2? (I definitly have the brain circuitry for 1, lol, and I think also 3, but 2. apparently got left out of my brain somehow).

 

The drives could also feed into one another: 'casual' sex partners going on to develop romantic attraction to each other (1 feeding into 2 - an example mentioned in one of the talks) or demisexuals developing sexual attraction as a result of a deep attachment (3 feeding into 1) are a couple of examples that spring to mind. Missing 2 out from the feedback loops entirely could make aro brains (and relationships) function and develop in quite unique and interesting ways, no? Helen Fisher and team should put some aros in an MRI machine for their next study :D

 

Thoughts?

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, NullVector said:

Has anyone else here seen/read any of Helen Fisher's talks/books? I've been listening to a few talks and podcasts by her this morning. I like that she regards romance and sex as very distinct and separable 'drives' and is finding a basis for that in brain data (incidentally, she also thinks that the romance drive is more powerful than the sex drive, which I would agree with). But I'm particularly intrigued by this idea of the brain having evolved three distinct modules/systems of circuits and neuro-chemisty for experiencing three (not two, as with the split attraction model) distinct 'drives':

 

1. Sex drive (lust)

2. Romantic love drive (limerance)

3. Attachment drive (for a long term partnership/companionship 'team').

I think this is trying to use too few "dimensions". Since it does not account sensual or aesthetic attractions.

 

1 hour ago, NullVector said:

This seems to me like a very helpful way to categorise things. It strikes me that aromantics might be missing some key bits of brain circuitry or neuro-chemical responsiveness for 2. but could still have all this for 1. (in the case of sexual aromantics) and/or 3. (in the case of aromantics in or seeking QPRs). Actually, when I've read descriptions of QPRs, they've basically struck me as sounding a lot like long term married couples, where the romance (limerance) has long since fizzled out, but there is a deep affection and companionship remaining that took many years to build. I think I'd be entirely capable of being in a 3 type of relationship (although not necessairily with an exclusive partner) : it's just that most people (allos) would expect (and need?) to get to 3 only via both 1 and 2? (I definitly have the brain circuitry for 1, lol, and I think also 3, but 2. apparently got left out of my brain somehow).

The most obvious issue is that romance stands out as modern. It's also spread from Europe far too quickly to be anything other than a social meme.
Where as 1 is "eros" and 3 is philia and/or pragma.

There's also the way in which some people have a distinct preference for a singular companion, others for a team/group/tribe, still others who seek companionship in whatever form might be socially acceptable.

It might also be interesting to know if aromantics show neuro-chemical responses which alloromantics lack. (Ditto for asexuals and allosexuals).
 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow :o that video is wonderful and amazing, it really goes through a LOT of information in a great and effective way. She stays focused on her three drives too! Really, it was a relief to see this, thank you :)

 

 

 

I find it intriguing and interesting that she states that a drive is not an emotion. I don't see why it can't be. I suppose I'd be ok to say it's a different type of emotion but IMO it's certainly an emotional experience.

 

I am not really sure how well this plays into attractions though. I can see both limerance and attachment playing into romanticism, and I can see limerance playing into sexuality as well. not that these are necessarily true for everyone. I can also see people being generally a sexual person without much of a lusting experience - so, while generally speaking, I think it makes sense to claim that lust plays into sexual attraction and limerance plays into romantic attraction and attachment plays into bonding - I don't think these three are going to be universally precise predictors for orientation.

 

but, thinking about what she's said is going to really help me understand my orientation better :)

 

 

 

(later edit:)

yes, the more I think about it, the more it can't be necessarily congruent with orientation. here are some questions I've wondered so far -

 

  • does limerence necessarily always play into only romance? can't it play into sexuality too? and certainly it can play into our obsession with things that aren't even a human person!
  • does lust necessarily play into sexual attraction? I imagine for aces who experience this sex drive, it is just their libido. self-satisfactory.
  • what happens during sex where no obsessive drive is felt? sex which is "great" and "wanted" but essentially "without lust" - are these other drives? are they just lust expressing a different way? or is it some other dopamine system she hasn't identified, working independently of lust?
  • what is the evolutionary explanation for homo orientations?
  • is attachment a romantic thing only? I suspect not! can't it be though? attachment by my assumption, could be romantic, and could be platonic. attachment is bonding! couldn't you be attached to a sexual partner without feeling romantic, in theory?
  • is limerence even romantic necessarily? She did after all mention someone writing a poem about how obsessed he was with his bedroll. I certainly can feel quite obsessed with my daydreams - do I get limerence response with my daydreams? or - is attachment to people reserved for limerence, and there's actually a separate independent dopamine system that might seem similar?
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@cute kitty Meow! Mewo! Wow, you ask a lot of questions - I like it! :)

 

3 hours ago, cute kitty Meow! Mewo! said:

I find it intriguing and interesting that she states that a drive is not an emotion. I don't see why it can't be. I suppose I'd be ok to say it's a different type of emotion but IMO it's certainly an emotional experience.

I think the way she's looking at it is as the drive being the underlying cognitive machinery or process (the motor, as she puts it in the talk) that results in the experience of certain neurological states (emotions) in response to certain stimuli (like observing a beloved person, or hearing a certain song on the radio, for example). So the drive is everything that makes the emotional experience happen, rather than the emotion itself, if that makes sense. Probably the book(s) would go into way more details about neurotransmitters and receptors and hormones and such forth. Also, bear in mind I'm not a neuroscientist - not even close :P

 

3 hours ago, cute kitty Meow! Mewo! said:

does limerence necessarily always play into only romance? can't it play into sexuality too? and certainly it can play into our obsession with things that aren't even a human person!

That's interesting. I guess I've always thought of it as applying to romantic infatuation towards a person rather than pure sexual mesmerisation or fascination with a thing (like, say, a particularly neat equation from theoretical physics xD). I've had what I now call 'sexual crushes' in the past, where I would get obsessed over a particular person, but not in a way I'd categorize as limerent. I would daydream up many variations on the theme of their general sexiness(:$) but certainly not imagine our perfect future together forever, or anything like that. I think limerence comes with distinct expectations of personal redemption and salvation built up (artificially and unrealistically) around it - see for example this description from Alain De Botton's book The Course Of Love:

Quote

He has never felt anything remotely like this before. The sensation overwhelms him from the first. It isn't dependent on words, which they will never exchange. It is as if he has in some way always known her, as if she holds out an answer to his very existence, and, especially, to a zone of confused pain inside him.

 

The above is totally alien to me (and actually a bit horrifying xD). I've honestly never experienced anything like it and find the description super hard to relate to. I mean, how can a person you don't even know (have never in fact even spoken to!) possibly save you and hold the key to your very existence O.o (yeah, I'm aware that it's totally missing the point to try and rationalize it!) I guess it's these 'personal redemption and salvation' aspects of limerence that can make people willing to kill and die for romance, accounts for much of the possessiveness and jealousy (they were put on this earth to save ME not YOU!)  and makes it a stronger drive than the sex drive (which was briefly touched on in the talk I linked).

 

3 hours ago, cute kitty Meow! Mewo! said:

couldn't you be attached to a sexual partner without feeling romantic, in theory?

Yeah, I think  so. And that would probably be typical for sexual aros. For instance, I'd expect to feel a warmth and affection towards a sexual partner similar to what I'd feel towards a close friend, but without any typical limerence aspects manifesting. But I don't know for sure.

 

3 hours ago, cute kitty Meow! Mewo! said:

or - is attachment to people reserved for limerence, and there's actually a separate independent dopamine system that might seem similar?

Well, I think the way Helen Fisher was categorising things, limerence and attachment would be regulated by two separate (but inter-related) brain systems, one for a romance drive and one for an attachment drive. For most people the romance drive would 'tee up' the attachment drive to then progressively take over in the context of long-term monogomous pair-bonding relationships for childrearing in humans. With evolution having selected for various drives for satisfying different functions associated with mating behaviours (as she described it,the sexual drive to cast a wide net for initial attraction, the romance drive to focus that attraction to a particular mate and then the attachment drive to set something less volatile up for subsequent childrearing). But aros would not follow that typical pattern! I don't know about 'separate dopamine system' - we would probably need to read the book(s) as well to get more details around that sort of thing, beyond what was just outlined in the talks

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, NullVector said:

For most people the romance drive would 'tee up' the attachment drive to then progressively take over in the context of long-term monogomous pair-bonding relationships for childrearing in humans.

Though IMHO romantic attraction doesn't necessarily vanish, it seems to only get reduced to a saner level.

 

Even from the simple “fertilization” standpoint, romance seems to be important; it takes comparatively quite a high number of intercourse for humans to conceive, like a 100 times! Just imagine if every male, if he had sex 100 times, it was with 30 different women. O.o STD levels would skyrocket. Even if in the human species zero male investment for offspring would be the norm, we would probably have some romantic behavior.

 

Kind of strange in modern times this “instinct”. Usually people gonna have unprotected sex in a romantic relationship after a certain time, when they start to “trust” their partners. Asking your partner to have an STD test before starting unprotected sex? That's not what romance looks like…

We know how well this instinct works if you read all the depressing stories when the myth “Only promiscuous people contract STDs” gets shattered.

Stereotypical aromantic sex life (or rather the worst stereotypes of it) seems dangerous. But then you are simply not pressured to trust your partner in a casual (very broadly) situation.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 7:10 AM, NullVector said:

Has anyone else here seen/read any of Helen Fisher's talks/books? I've been listening to a few talks and podcasts by her this morning. I like that she regards romance and sex as very distinct and separable 'drives' and is finding a basis for that in brain data (incidentally, she also thinks that the romance drive is more powerful than the sex drive, which I would agree with). But I'm particularly intrigued by this idea of the brain having evolved three distinct modules/systems of circuits and neuro-chemisty for experiencing three (not two, as with the split attraction model) distinct 'drives':

 

1. Sex drive (lust)

2. Romantic love drive (limerance)

3. Attachment drive (for a long term partnership/companionship 'team').

 

This seems to me like a very helpful way to categorise things. It strikes me that aromantics might be missing some key bits of brain circuitry or neuro-chemical responsiveness for 2. but could still have all this for 1. (in the case of sexual aromantics) and/or 3. (in the case of aromantics in or seeking QPRs). Actually, when I've read descriptions of QPRs, they've basically struck me as sounding a lot like long term married couples, where the romance (limerance) has long since fizzled out, but there is a deep affection and companionship remaining that took many years to build. I think I'd be entirely capable of being in a 3 type of relationship (although not necessairily with an exclusive partner) : it's just that most people (allos) would expect (and need?) to get to 3 only via both 1 and 2? (I definitly have the brain circuitry for 1, lol, and I think also 3, but 2. apparently got left out of my brain somehow).

 

The drives could also feed into one another: 'casual' sex partners going on to develop romantic attraction to each other (1 feeding into 2 - an example mentioned in one of the talks) or demisexuals developing sexual attraction as a result of a deep attachment (3 feeding into 1) are a couple of examples that spring to mind. Missing 2 out from the feedback loops entirely could make aro brains (and relationships) function and develop in quite unique and interesting ways, no? Helen Fisher and team should put some aros in an MRI machine for their next study :D

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks for posting these links!  I am really excited to explore this 3 drives model. 

 

I listened to a ted talk of hers about brain chemistry and romantic attraction, and had a sort of "aha"moment when she mentioned the chemical vasopressin's role in romantic attraction.  I have a medical condition (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) in which abnormal levels of vasopressin probably play a role.  Fluid regulation is a real struggle for my body.  It blew me away to see vasopressin is involved in attraction.  

 

I'm super curious, now.  Any other aromantics around here who also have a medical condition such as POTS, diabetes insipidus, low blood pressure, low blood volume, etc? 

 

I've been aro/ace my whole life, whereas the POTS is a more recent development, but I'm still really curious about this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...