Controlling Passion

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)

Are bisexuals slaves to their passions?  Before we answer that question, we need to take another look at the nature of passion.  New information seems to be arriving daily, good solid scientific information about human neurology.

We are just beginning to understand the full power of the passion that comes from the old brain which operates on sensations and near instantaneous perceptions. These perceptions are formed by basic circuitry involving the hind brain, mid brain, and the hypothalamus and amygdala in the fore-brain. When a sensation comes in, we have about one tenth of a second to form a perception. Based on this perception, we simply ignore; we engage the Reticular System of fight, flight or freeze, or we enter the Limbic System which is the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification.

So what happens in the Limbic System when it comes to sexual gratification? It takes less than a second to perceive someone as attractive, and to enter into the first phase of arousal.  For most of us, this might mean mild interest, or for others, like us bisexuals with a heightened sexual sensitivity, we may already be engaging our hormones and releasing dopamine for hot pursuit. It is not until this stage that the frontal cortex kicks in.  The administration section simply re-evaluates on the basis of past experience and either gives the red light to cease and desist, or the green light to fully engage. The time for this decision-making is still somewhere in the range of just one to two seconds.

For most people this is an amber light which means proceed with caution, but for bisexuals, especially when in pursuit of a same sex encounter, we are already operating on full green. At this point the whole brain is functioning with full dopamine overload in pursuit of the opiates we feel from our dopamine, and testosterone/estrogen rush. This creates anxiety and the release of  the neuromodulator, cortisone, which prevents a change in the brain chemistry until the goal is achieved. There is no motivation for re-evaluation. We are hell-bent for orgasm.  This is passion at its basic old brain animal level.  But it is very real.

Which brings us to the second level of passion.  How do we build in a runaway lane for our out-of-control, fully-loaded semi on a downhill run?   The way to do that is to re-engage the neuromodulator, oxytocin, which results in increased serotonin and the reduction of dopamine. Wholistic Health Expert, Nancy Lee Bentley, provides us with some insight on how the dopamine/serotonin balance affects passion:

“Serotonin may actually be involved in the “love versus sex” divide. When serotonin is low, (and dopamine is high) researchers say, it also tends to increase sex drive; whereas higher serotonin levels are also associated with an increase in oxytocin, the so-called “love” hormone. This seems to reflect women’s preference for more bonding, cuddling and lovemaking versus men’s noted penchant for straight physical sex. Ample amounts of serotonin make for more “loving” feelings.”[1]

Contrary to popular opinion, men, especially bisexual men, also create the love-making hormone. It brings about a change in our perceptions and refocuses our intent on concern and pleasure for our partners rather than on orgasm itself.  We can start the process through intimate touch like an intense hug. This increases serotonin which in turn produces a sense of well being that reduces the anxiety brought on by cortisone. The administration section of the brain in now able to function again and re-evaluate on the basis of the greater good – the oxytocin/serotonin feeling of intimacy.

Whenever you are in pursuit of sex with a man or a woman learn to see the person as a potential soul mate rather than just a sex object. Seek intimate connection through non-sexual touch and experience the beginnings of a deeper level of passion. Learn to relax and enjoy intimate contact while it happens. If this passion leads to sexual intercourse, we can engage in the glow of oxytocin and serotonin and the endorphin afterglow that follows, free of stress and anxiety. We form neural pathways connecting these experiences to the pleasure mechanism of our brain. We refer to these connections as bonds, human to human bonds, that urge us on to deeper connection rather than just the dopamine rush  and withdrawal that leads to regret and possible shame.

When we learn to control the passion, I believe we begin to enjoy the journey, mutually and fully. We now employ sexual passion to lead us to intimate passion that can become the ultimate reward in our brain systems. This may or may not lead to sexual gratification because the goal is not the passion of the dopamine rush, but the glow of intimacy. This passion involves not only the genitals but also the heart. In other words, we have to use our sexuality to pursue the greater passion of intimacy that can lead to the greater pleasure of making love rather than just having sex.

Can these bonds with lovers exist within a monogamous (marriage or partnership) relationship? That is the question of the ages. More on that next week.


[1] Bentley, Nancy Lee. How Serotonin Affects Your Sex Drive. May 2014.