recent, Sex, Social Science

Sex, Love, and Knowing the Difference

We all remember the first time we fell in love. No matter how strong or independent or free you thought you were, all at once, you became powerless in the face of feelings that, to others, seemed obsessive and irrational.

When you’re in that state, everything reminds you of the one you love. They become the center of your world. Friends say your face lights up when you talk about them. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat. The thought of being without them feels like losing a part of yourself.

There are biological reasons that explain why the experience of being in love feels so overwhelming. These emotions serve an evolutionary purpose. Specifically, they allow two people to bond in a way that increases the likelihood they’ll procreate and maintain an environment in which the resulting offspring survive.

Neurobiologists know that love usually occurs in three phases: lust, attraction and attachment. In the first phase, lust, sex hormones create physiological arousal; in the second phase, attraction, dopamine creates intense feelings associated with the object of one’s desire (often tipping into something that resembles real addiction); and in the third phase, attachment, occurring in established couples, oxytocin and vasopressin (the “cuddle hormones”) facilitate the long-term bonding required to raise children over a time span of years or decades.

Romantic love is an intangible state of mind. But we are coming to understand it more clearly through techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging. FMRI, as it’s known, measures brain activity by examining changes in blood flow and oxygenation. These studies typically have involved researchers showing study participants pictures of their lovers, and then contrasting the observed brain activity with the activity observed when the study subjects are shown pictures of friends of the same sex and a similar age.

One of the first fMRI studies in the field found a distinct network of brain regions associated with being, as described by the researchers, “truly, deeply, and madly in love.” These regions included the insula and anterior cingulate cortex, which are associated, respectively, with feelings of desire and happiness. Other regions included those linked to sexual arousal, such as the hypothalamus and amygdala.

A tendency to overlook a partner’s faults, a common side effect of love, has been thought to be the result of decreased activation in frontal brain regions, which otherwise lead us to exercise caution. Another study offered preliminary evidence that activation in brain regions associated with relationship satisfaction predicted whether or not a couple would still be together several years later.

As with any type of brain-imaging study, there are skeptics. How closely does viewing pictures of your beloved—while you’re positioned in an MRI scanner—simulate the affection experienced in everyday life? More research needs to be done. But even the information we already have is enough to help people improve their chances of finding love and relationship success.

A recent study suggested that love often presents itself as an extension of sexual desire. (In sexological terms, desire refers to wanting to engage sexually with someone for the short-term, as opposed to engaging emotionally on a long-term basis, as when in love.) But that doesn’t mean that love and sex are one and the same—even if, as noted above, research shows an overlap between love and lust.

Two people can have wild, passionate sex without sharing deep feelings (or even liking each other). Similarly, a couple may be head-over-heels in love, but not sexually compatible. But sex is arguably better when feelings are involved (unless, of course, someone fears intimacy). And during my time as an academic sex researcher, I’ve seen myriad cases in which problems emerged when one of these ingredients was missing. Individuals who had been married for decades, and who often still loved each other, for instance, would abruptly end their marriage because their sexual needs weren’t being met.

Myths abound. In some cases, sex and love would be conflated in a person’s mind to the point that they believed that their desire for someone besides their spouse meant they weren’t with the right person. Others believed that having sex with someone would cause that person to fall in love with them.

The available evidence suggests that humans probably aren’t monogamous by nature. But before anyone gets upset by that, let me clarify: As someone who is monogamous, I’m not saying that monogamy is impossible or wrong, or that cheating is justified. But our basic nature does help explain why, even in happy, loving relationships, it isn’t uncommon—if we are honest with ourselves—to feel some form of desire for those who aren’t our committed partners.

It shocks me how little some couples communicate about these issues. I still find myself at a loss for words whenever I hear that a couple avoided talking about their sex life or their sexual preferences before getting married. Being in love won’t protect two people from becoming sexually dissatisfied over the long haul, or guarantee that they will magically figure things out when it becomes obvious their sexual drives are mismatched. Relationships without sexual intimacy are a relatively common but seldom discussed phenomenon.

A 2017 study published in the British Journal of Medicine, surveying 11,500 British adults, found that 15% of men and 34% of women reported a lack of interest in sex. Among women in particular, being in a relationship for longer than one year, or living with a partner, was statistically associated with a drop in sexual interest. This result has been replicated in other studies. Overall, the data show that relationship duration negatively predicts women’s sexual desire, while male desire tends to remain relatively steady.

I recommend that sexually active people who are dating discuss their expectations regarding how often they’ll be having sex, the kind of sex they’ll be having, and whether they expect their partner to be monogamous (as will typically, but not always, be the case). Such conversations will save couples much confusion and heartache down the road. As someone who has studied paraphilias (unusual sexual preferences), I’d also suggest talking about any kinks you may have. These sexual preferences tend to remain constant over time, particularly among men.

Although discussing the technical details of your sex life probably sounds like it will kill the mood and destroy your sense of spontaneity, you owe it to your partner and to yourself—especially if you plan to get married. You’ll be surprised to find the ways in which such discussions will lead you to have better, more fulfilling sex—and maybe even love each other that much more.


Debra W. Soh holds a Ph.D. in sexual neuroscience research from York University and writes about the science and politics of sex. Follow her at @DrDebraSoh.

173 Comments

  1. Sasha says

    As I understood it the release of Dopamine gives a short term pleasurable “hit” while Seratonin is longer lasting and builds over time to give a long lasting pleasure. Hence…love.

    Is this now not true??

    • Jim from BC says

      Seretonin generally has less to do with pleasure than attention/wakefulness. When it comes to sex seretonin generally interferes with sexual arousal especially the physical components of arousal, that’s why seretonergic anti depressants tend to cause erectile/sexual dysfunction.

      • Jeremiah says

        That’s true of serotonin reuptake inhibitors but a drug that straight up releases massives amounts of serotonin like MDMA causes massive amounts of pleasure. Its a less self centered pleasure than the dopamine release of cocaine, but it’s still very much extreme pleasure not just attention and wakefulness.

        • Jeremiah says

          The first time you try real MDMA it pretty much takes your breathe away by how absokutely perfect it’s possible to fill. Cocaine makes you feel really good but theres an edgy anxious side too it thats just not there with MDMA. At least until the crash, but that’s why you should have a few miligrams of xanax ready to gently ease the landing.

          • Jeremiah says

            Feel*

            Why is there no edit button here?

          • Hutch says

            The first time you do real MDMA you may experience the very strong realisation that your entire perception of happiness can be chemically altered at will. It can leave you wondering about your own biomechanical limits.

  2. JWakko says

    I love you(r work) Debra, even if I’m dissatisfied with the amount of sex we are having.

    Seriously, informative article. Thanks.

    • Pault says

      its a good thing you’re making an effort to talk about it…

  3. Morgan Foster says

    “I recommend that sexually active people who are dating discuss their expectations regarding how often they’ll be having sex, the kind of sex they’ll be having …”

    I’m trying to picture a man telling his partner – perhaps over a romantic dinner – that he has an expectation of a certain number of blow jobs after the wedding and for the next 40 years, on a regular basis.

    The author must know what she’s talking about, but my personal experience suggests that this conversation seldom leads to a satisfactory long-term outcome for the man.

    • Mark says

      Morgan,

      I actually had this discussion with my girlfriend last week. In my experience, it often takes the form of an initial joke, which leads to a semi-serious conversation, from which a proper conversation is eventually had.

      Tact is key.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @Mark

        Good for you. But, um … report back in 5 years and let us know how that worked out? 🙂

        • Stephanie says

          Mark and Morgan, a good strategy is to give as much head as you want to get. It’ll create the desire for reciprocity.

          • Morgan Foster says

            “a good strategy is to give as much head as you want to get. It’ll create the desire for reciprocity.”

            Would it surprise you to know that many women consider that to be too great a price to pay?

          • William says

            That’s generally probably true, but the only issue is women vary massively in their sex drive and what they want sexually compared to men. I had a LTR with a girl who didnt even like clit stimulation. Not even with a vibrator that she was controlling. She only got off through digital G spot stimulation and sex in certain positions.

            Ive been with girls who cum as easily as your average 18 year old guy and two girls who took forever to even make themselves cum even with a vibrator.

          • Pault says

            the general principal of reciprocity and making the effort to be “GGG” for your partner is what all people should focus on, male, female, trans, CISnormative or otherwise. its 2019 nobody got time for a lazy dude or a pillow princess…

    • E. Olson says

      I suspect this can all be done most efficiently at the same time as the signing of the prenuptial agreement, or perhaps better yet be part of the prenuptial agreement. Sex 4+ times per week of a contractually specified type and length gives a higher divorce settlement vs. less sex or less quality sex.

      The potential awkwardness of this discussion/negotiation will of course be reduced by the practice of affirmative consent during early romantic/sexual encounters:

      Male: Your hair looks fabulous, would you mind if I smell it?
      Female: Nice of you to notice, and be my guest.
      Male: Is it ok if I hold your hand during the movie?
      Female: Certainly my dear, as long as you buy me the extra large popcorn.
      Male: That was a wonderful evening, how about a good night kiss?
      Female: What kind of woman do you think I am, are you some sort of pervert?
      Male: Does that mean a blow job is out of the question?
      Female: I’m calling the police.

      • Itzik Basman says

        ….Sex 4+ times per week of a contractually specified type and length gives a higher divorce settlement vs. less sex or less quality sex…

        Contract of adhesion?

        • Jeremiah says

          I’m assuming he was being sarcastic but if he wasnt how the hell does he expect to prove whether or not they had sex 4 times a week to a divorce court?

          • Here’s your chance to develop a niche app, which logs the date and stores photographs of the couple doing it.

      • Jeremiah says

        I’m hoping this is sarcasm cause otherwise your one weird dude. Even if it is sarcasm it’s not remotely a fair response to what the author wrote. Its not remotely unrealistic to just have an open conversation about your sex life and how you feel about it.

        • Pault says

          well it is if you have internalized years of self loathing as well as a misogynistic resentment of women (some of whom may even deserve it, who knows)… i am saying a prayer for ol boy and his hog, i hope things get better for them both real soon…

          psa to the incels: the feeld and 3fun apps are free… act normal, be nice, good luck

    • Angela says

      You dont have to get that specific off the bat. My spouse and I discussed the amount of times we wanted to try and make time for intimacy each week. He has a lowered sex drive because of anti depressants he takes so it’s really me who wanted to put down the expectation that at the very least we’d try and have sexual intimacy twice a week.

      When he’s not automatically in the mood we watch some pork togather and that does the trick. I’m somewhat sexually attracted to women too so it’s not like it’s a chore for me. I even take him to strip clubs on special occasions lol. SSRIs can really kill libido so if your partner has to take one youve really got to work hard to keep the spark going.

      Now id guess a lot of women arent as sexually adventurous as me so if youre a man with a spouse with a lower sex drive you might want to start with more traditionally romanatic things like a nice romantic meal with wine and a sensual back massage. Also this is kind of anecdotal but my sexual desire for my husband definetely spikes when I see him really bonding with our toddler son.

        • Etiamsi omnes says

          Watching pork, provided it is very fresh, also doesn’t expose you to some of the odors described infra.

      • Angela says

        Id also add during the day look at for signs whether your partner is just not in a good mood. If that’s the case it’s better to just save your advances for the next night.

    • Mikhail Littlemeyer says

      Before my wife and I had sex or got married, we had a discussion during which my expectations with regard to sex based on my sexual desires and needs etc were layed out. This included the fact that I need sex at least once every day and that my feeling is that either of us should be able to get it however we want it, whenever we want it, amongst other things. Because some basic ground rules/expectations were layed down in the beginning, and she agreed, making us sexually compatible, it’s been smooth sailing for sixteen years. So this did work for us.

    • Pault says

      keep trying – source a happily married man

      p.s. extra monogamy is a thing and it works great for sane couples…

  4. Chad Chen says

    Perhaps Debra can enlighten us about the biological reasons for the atrocious odors given off by human sex organs, particularly in females. What evolutionary purpose could that possibly serve?

    • Andrew says

      A natural method of birth control. 🙂

    • Stephanie says

      Chad, if you don’t like the way women smell, it means you are not attracted to women. If men smell better to you, I’d suggesting sticking with them.

      • Chad Chen says

        Stephanie: In case no one told you, there are few men who like female genital odor. Maybe that’s why they don’t call you after the first date.

        The French invented the bidet to help address the problem, and there are female deodorant sprays on the market.

        Your comment is equivalent to a man refusing to use Right Guard and telling women there is something wrong with them if they don’t like his aroma.

        • V 2.0 says

          I (really, really) like the way a post gym man smells. Also…are your saying you put Right Guard on your genitals??? :O

        • Stephanie says

          I love my husband’s natural smell, and he loves mine. It’s a essential indicator of attraction… Covering it up is unnatural and nothing more than a band-aid.

          There’s no need to get defensive. Nothing wrong with preferring men. Go where your nose leads.

          • Chad Chen says

            Nothing wrong with being married to a tactful man. Most men are chivalrous to a fault, although sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s in it for them.

          • Pault says

            pretty sure that dude is a troll, or just has had a very limited (& unfortunate) range of exposure to the fairer sex… agreed and same here when it comes to my spouse and i having pretty much always liked/strangely not minded one another’s B.O,, from the beginning…

          • Pault says

            its easy to spot the “overly woke SJW parody” posts, but these ones, i genuinely dont know if this is a real life Incel or someone who’s just mesing with us…

      • William M says

        Yeah all I can guess is this dude has only been with one or two fat girls with bad hygiene and he’s extrapolating that to normal girls.

    • Jeremiah says

      I dont know what rachet pussy you’ve been eating but ive never had that expierence going down on a girl. Then again ive only been with relatively fit girls under 25. When you and your 50 year old wife have gotten fat and let yourselfs go the smell down there is probably more of an issue.

    • William M says

      Dude I don’t no whether you’ve just had bad luck or ive just had good luck, but I’ve literally never had that issue with a girl.

      The only thing even close was going down on a long term partner right after the gym and even then it was just a basic salty sweat type deal not some pungent awfulness. Now im not claiming to have been with a million girls but ive been with more than a few and never had this issue pop up.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      @Chen. Jesus China,
      Asian women’s bodies don’t stink. Especially you know where.
      Are you sure you are Chinese?
      Have you ever even sucked a Chinese lady’s toes? It is the greatest candy known to man.

      (Head slaps)

      • Chad Chen says

        I’m guessing you don’t have a keen sense of smell. You might want a doctor to check you out.

  5. Sound advice. It’s a solid piece of common sense wisdom backed up with scientific studies and expertise.

    “A closed mouth don’t get fed.”, is a colloquialism that applies to many different interpersonal situations. Ironing out your needs, sexual and otherwise can feel like a conflict waiting to derail a relationship, but if your partner doesn’t cut and run (if they do you dodged a bullet) the dividends from the conversation pay exponentially throughout the relationship.

    Thanks Debra, nice work.

  6. Jean Levant says

    “Neurobiologists know that love usually occurs in three phases: lust, attraction and attachment.”
    So neurobiologists have a poor understandig of human behaviour in general and male human behaviour in particular. But I hope it’s your own flaw, Debrah. It seems to me that you are conflating, as usual and in perfect contradiction with your own headline, real love with any form of sexual activity. I can’t speak for your female brain but I can speak for mine : when in love with a girl, the first thing I feel is certainly not “lust” as you state with all the authority of your big grade. No, I feel a blend of seduction, admiration, respect and desire to protect the loved one and by the way it’s true for all other sorts of real love, even for a child of a pet. In the first case, sexual desire or lust is the last thing to come. And looking around me, I don’t feel other men are very different (with some exceptions to be sure, the sort with which you make terrible headlines).
    But no surprise to me at all. That’s the modern stance : all (male) men are unconscious rapists when seeing a (sweet) girl only prevented doing it by a thin coat of cultural varnish or fear of consequences. I say no and no. Lust and even more rape is the last thing, not the first, coming in a male brain when in love, which was your point and your headline.
    I hope for the sake of your brains that it’s not you who has chosen the headline.

    • Jairo Melchor says

      @Jean Levant

      “Neurobiologists know that love usually occurs in three phases: lust, attraction and attachment.”

      There’s a very important key word that you omitted that changes entirely the way you see that phrase: “Usually”

      Usually, it happens that way, the lust may not be as a big erection as you may think it means but could be an arousal for characteristics of the partner of interest, like looking at their hair, maybe the way they act/mannerisms, among other stuff. Needless to say, the phrase never says “Love in men…”, it just talks about love (which obviously includes common behavior in both men and women).

      Your entire conclusion is irrelevant to the piece and that’s you projecting your own insecurities (granted, i can see where they come from), so you shouldn’t assume any intention out of stating facts or possible hypothesis about human behavior. Debra Soh is one of the last person that would imply anything bad of men, she’s against SJW’s you know?

      • Jean Levant says

        I have to strongly disagree, Jairo, Debrah specifically talks about love (whatever the object of this love could be), not sex. Love can be the starter of sex in some cases. Or not. And it’s never the other way around. So all your arguments are irrelevant. In the special case (not so special by the way) when a boy loves a girl, her hair and her ways, as you mention, are not about lust but attraction which is another thing. But I’m very conscious that the accurate meaning of words, in the postmodern world that is yours, is in serious danger.
        I repeat for you: lust is not the primal feeling of men (and women I hope) when they are in love : it’s tenderness, admiration, attraction, respect, desire of protecting the loved one. Lust comes always after. Or never.
        If it’s just about sex, yes, lust is the main driver.
        But it seems to me that all this piece was about the difference between love and sex.

        • neoteny says

          attraction which is another thing

          No, it isn’t. Lust is a kind of attraction: sexual attraction.

          • Jean Levant says

            Lust is a kind of attraction : certainly. It’s not the kind of attraction I feel when I’m in love but perhaps it’s your feeling : I can’t dispute on this. In general, I think this piece is in the right line with reductionism : love is only about cells and molecules because when you open a brainbox, there are only cells and molecules. So, love must be something like this.

        • neoteny says

          the difference between love and sex

          At the beginning of paragraph 5, where the author switches from the neurochemical intro to love, she specifies the kind of love she’s going to talk about: romantic love. For economies’ sake, she leaves out the ‘romantic’ qualifier after subsequent mentions of love, but she already established that that’s the kind of love she discusses — the kind the ancient Greeks called eros as opposed to agape.

          • Jean Levant says

            So, she conflates as I said love with eros, which is not. Love can include eros or not. Erotism, I know what it is. Love is another thing. Words matter. Meaning matters. Attraction is not a synonym of lust and conversely.

        • Stephanie says

          Jean, I don’t think anyone’s initial reaction to anyone is tenderness, admiration, and respect. Those develop over time. Lust is instantaneous.

          • Jean Levant says

            You’re right in your first sentence but it’s not my point. I precisely said that when you’re in love with another person (who certainly is not anyone), lust is not your prime feeling, as the author claims (which is a bit insulting). And contrary to you, from my experience, I’d say, maybe sadly, it is lust that develops over time, not the “romantic” feelings. That said, my view on the subject is not more correct although not less true than yours. Love is like faith : not a subject for the scientific methodology. Scientists should better study sex which is about cells, molecules, nerves, stimuli and so on.

          • Stephanie says

            Jean, she did not say that lust is the “prime” feeling, only that it tends to be the first feeling. It sounds like your relationships have developed some time after meeting, out of friendships or work relationships, which is an exception to the rule. Most people know they are attracted to someone that way right away. This can be and has been studied, presumably, or Dr. Soh would not be presenting it as such here.

        • neoteny says

          she conflates as I said love with eros, which is not

          No, she does no conflation: “But that doesn’t mean that [romantic] love and sex are one and the same—even if, as noted above, research shows an overlap between [romantic] love and lust.”

      • Jeremiah says

        Don’t even bother. This dude is clearly a weirdo, and you’re right the author is probably one of the least SJW sex researchers in North America.

    • Jeremiah says

      What the hell are you talking about?
      Don’t extrapolate your clearly strange self to the average person.

  7. Peter from Oz says

    ”The available evidence suggests that humans probably aren’t monogamous by nature.”
    And yet they are monogamous. Being social is part of human nature. Being monogamous is a social adjustment. Therefroe being monogmaous is part of human nature.
    In effect this means that humans are what they are by nature.You cannot divorce nature and actuality.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Peter from Oz

      I assume she means that we have not evolved to be monogamous. That monogamy was not the norm in the hunter gatherer societies that constitute the vast majority of human history. I don’t know whether this is true or not.

    • Just Me says

      I think she means that for most, or at least many humans, remaining monogamous is a struggle, a sacrifice, a deliberate choice, and not something that is automatic, as it is for monogamous animals. Which is difficult to argue with based on the evidence.

      Most societies historically have been polygamous, and those that have required monogamy have always had lots of rule-breakers, in fact the dilemmas caused by adultery are the source of much social strife, used in literature, myths, etc.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Just Me

        I think you are probably right. But my point is a general one against evolutionary biologists and otheres who bang on about what ”nature” intended. They see to forget that what man has made has been made by creatures spawned by nature.
        It might me natural for men to have to fight their urge not to be monogamous, but it is also natural to accpet socialisation and go with monogamy, because it relives us from having to be constantly on the look out for encroaching males.
        No, on second thoughts I’m doubling down. Human nature is a compromise of socialised behaviour and individual urges. Saying that by nature men are not monogamous is only telling half the story.

    • Jeremiah says

      If “being monogamous is a social adjustment” like you say, then that’s basically the opposite of it being part of human nature.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Peter from Oz

      “Being social is part of human nature.”

      Thanks Peter. It is disturbing how the simplest facts can be overlooked if we practice overlooking them hard enough. Back in the day, the soul was everything and the body was just a sack of meat that was the soul’s temporary prison. Then the sack of meat became everything. Now ‘social construction’ is what really matters. As the Buddha said: “Could we just cut the bullshit, please?”

    • Pault says

      except we’re not actually monogamous. sure we have culturally enforced monogamy, but we dont physically practice it over the duration of our lifetimes. we try to behave as we are expected, but most of us will eventually act like the animals we are at some point.

  8. Joana George says

    “Among women in particular, being in a relationship for longer than one year, or living with a partner, was statistically associated with a drop in sexual interest.”

    If that’t true, than wouldn’t a discussion in the initial dating phase lead to men having unrealistic expectations and women feeling pressured? Having that sort of conversation doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. It’s likely to trigger the typical defensive “It’s my body! I have a right to say no!” response later on, if/when the drop in sexual interest occurs. Also, even if the woman sticks with the arrangement she might switch to disengaged sex all together.

    I’d suggest instead a conversation about how to handle potential future differences in sexual interest.

  9. E. Olson says

    A woman freshly into a long-term relationship with a man almost always has the desire to change him to correct his “flaws” including his desire to have frequent sex.

    A man freshly into a long-term relationship with a woman almost always has the hope that she will never change, particularly with regard to her physical attractiveness and enthusiasm for or at least acquiescence to frequent sex.

    Both are usually disappointed.

    And of course this interesting article also points to the wisdom of the old joke:

    What food reduces a woman’s sex drive by 90%?

    Answer: wedding cake.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      The opposite happened in my marriage. My wife has gotten a much higher libido as she gets closer to 30 than she had when she was 19 when we first started dating. I mean she was always down, but these days it’s her that’s initiating and me that’s actually turning it down because my 38 year old libido isbt what it was 15 years ago.

  10. Yeah what ever says

    The last time I had sex was january 18 years ago, over the years it has got easier. A bottle of wine and I go to sleep.

    One thing I learnt is to keep my mouth shut.

    • Chid Chan says

      I think this could account for a lot of suicide

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      Please seek counseling. If your married ideally with both a regular couples therapist and a sex therapist. If your wife wont go then please see a therapist yourself. You dont have to stay in an unhappy marriage. You really need to talk to someone about this.

    • Pault says

      “One thing I learnt is to keep my mouth shut.”

      that could be part of the problem…

      #lickitb4ustickit

  11. Jezza says

    The disparity between male hunger and female hunger is what makes sex a sellers’ market, and all women, in my experience, either consciously or unconsciously exploit it. Even the nicest of women will take pity on her man and ‘reward’ him with her body. Trouble is, she can’t fake interest forever, and the sense of rejection he feels can be most destructive of a naïve person. Is it his fault? Is there some other man in her life? Why don’t you love me like you used to do? Why do you treat me like a worn out shoe? (In the words of Hank Williams) So he drifts towards strip clubs like a fish on the hook, or seeks relief in pornography and sits hunched before his computer while the operators filch his money and promise but never deliver, or maybe he’s tempted into the world of brief homosexual encounters while his dream of true love dims daily. Are you miserable yet?

    A couple of things baffle me: Why do women spend so much time and effort on clothes and cosmetics? And why the spike in the sale of dildoes and vibrators if she doesn’t want sex? It’s a mystery. Just gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

    • Just Me says

      “Why do women spend so much time and effort on clothes and cosmetics? ”

      A common male misconception is that these are to attract men. Only indirectly.

      The more competitive females do it to keep up their self-esteem as attractive women, but many women aren’t very competitive which is why so many don’t care or give up early and let themselves go.

      • Asenath Waite says

        Just Me

        “to keep up their self-esteem as attractive women”

        Attractive to whom?

        • Harbinger says

          ….it’s about attracting the attention of other women Asenath, as part of maintaining one’s position in the female hierarchy. … ” but did you see what that woman looked like when she was in Walmart the other day….”

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Harbinger

            By being more attractive to men than the other women.

          • As Van Morrison wrote in Wild Nights; “all the girls walk by, dressed up for each other”

    • Gera says

      Jezza you make men the victims. Poor men. Self control and self respect are too hard. Next thing you know women should all be covered in burkas as they are all selling their wares too brazenly. Resentment and self pity go hand in hand, and resentment is a truly destructive emotion. Try to take control of what you can, your own eyes and emotions. Wishing you well, Gera

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      Youve either just had bad luck or your not mamibg yourself sexually attractive to the women you date. Get in shape (doesnt mean be a bodybuilder), stand up straight, be confident and assertive but also caring and romantic. I absolutely agree the bottleneck in heterosexual relationships is with women, but it’s more because most arent interested in casual sex not because theyre not interested in sex period.

      The bottleneck isnt necessarily a bad thing anyway. Thr AIDS epidemic got so bad with gay men because theres no female bottleneck to random meaningless sex. Dont get me wrong there’s tons of gay men in committed monogamous relationships, but the ones who want to sleep around can do it ridiculously easy if theyre halfway decent looking.

      • Johnny Appleseed says

        And the ridiculous ease of sleeping around when there’s no female bottleneck can cause serious emotional distress in men who want to stay monogamous, but are too easily tempted. If straight men could sleep around as easily as gay men then there would be way less truly monogamous married men. It’s a million times easier to stay monogamous when it takes a whole lot more than 20 minutes to find an attractive person who wants to screw you.

      • Pault says

        “Get in shape (doesnt mean be a bodybuilder)”

        agreed, power lifters and oly lifters are significantly stronger & women can smell the difference…

  12. Chad Chen says

    Many young men in North America are in the thrall of women. They are so brainwashed by the culture to be lap dogs that they make contemptible fools of themselves and practically beg to be exploited.

    The bowing and scraping is described as “respecting” women, but it is much more than that — reverence would be a better word. Men who behave this way are likely to end up marrying several times (women find it hard to respect them) and working until they are 75 years old, because their divorces are so costly.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      My wife basically completely supports me ( she makes over 150k a year) I work part time from home but mostly just do whatever I want during the day. She also wants to have sex even more often than I do. She takes me to strip clubs and we have a wild sex life including a couple threesomes. I’m pretty decent looking but I’m no 90s Brad Pitt or anything. All I’m saying is there are some massive exceptions to the stereotypes. If my wife is somehow trying to exploit me she’s doing an insanely bad job of it.

      The one thing I will sort of agree with you on is I never “put the pussy on a pedestal” as the saying goes and always acted confident and assertive even though financially I’m a bum without my wife lol.

  13. Grace says

    The comments above seem to disregard that women can have a higher sex drive than their male partners. That is the case for me. In a relationship of seven years, including four years of marriage, it has always been me seeking more sex and more passion. I don’t doubt his love or fidelity – he is just not very interested in sex or sensuality. I wish I had read the author’s advice years ago, or been honest and brave enough to admit to myself that it was obvious from the get-go that sex was going to be an issue. Before anyone asks, I am not overweight or unkempt!

    • Somewoman says

      Me too. I want more sex than my husband does and I don’t get the impression he is getting it from anywhere else.

      My love life has problems and I feel like I communicate them repeatedly but my husband doesn’t understand or is unwilling to really listen.

      • Jeremiah says

        Is he on an anti depressant? Those can absolutely kill libido. Other medications can cause issues too. If it’s not any meds he might want to get his testosterone levels checked. They might be abnormally low and these days theres just little patches you can wear to fix it you dont have to take shots all the time.

        • Jeremiah says

          Another thing that can help is actually planning sex out a little bit. I’m on an SSRI that really lowers my libido. If my wife just makes a move on me sometimes I just cant get in the mood. However if she makes it pretty clear she wants to get down at night during the day then I’m able to get myself in the mood easier.

      • Jeremiah says

        If meds or low T levels arent the issue then have you considered stuff like watching a little porn to get him in the mood? Sometimes it just takes a little visual stimulation to get a guy in the mood.

    • E. Olson says

      A good looking woman who wants more sex? For most men that is a fantasy they will only see when watching porn, too bad your man doesn’t appreciate what he has.

      • Peter from Oz says

        E.O.
        For some reason, I have always found it very easy to talk to women as friends. My understanding is that Grace and Somewoman’s experiences are quite normal.

        • Jeremiah says

          Anti depressants and decreasing average testosterone levels in men play a big part making this more common than it used to be. Also husband’s letting themselves go a little seems to have less effect on women’s sexual interest than a wife letting herself go a little. Presumably because of all the studies showing men’s libido is much more visually driven than women’s on average.

        • Stephanie says

          I’m told that men’s sex drives decrease as they age, and women’s increase, so the roles probably reverse fairly often in middle age.

    • Jeremiah says

      Is your husband on an anti depressant? Those can dramatically reduce male libido. Other medications can too like opiate painkillers. If medications arent an issue it’s also possible your husband has abnornmally low testosterone levels. They can easily treat that with little patches basically like nicotine patches.

      I myself am a man on an SSRI anti depressant that seriously hurts my libido. One thing that has really worked for my wife and I is sort of planning out sex. During the day she’ll make it pretty clear that she wants to get down at night and for some reason it’s much easier for me to get in the mood than if she just made a move on me out of nowhere.

      You can also always try watching a a little porn togather to spice things up. Men are often very visual when it comes to sex and for me even just watching a particularly arousing 30 second gif of porn can get me in the mood from almost 0 to 60.

      On the flipside it’s also a slight possiblity your husband’s low interest could be a side effect of a porn addiction. If your husband is masturbating frequently then it’s not a libido issue and it’s something you should probably see a sex therapist about.

      • Jeremiah says

        Another option is planning sex and then going out having a good time and getting a little drunk. Being drunk (but not really drunk) brings my libido back to where it was before I got on anti depressants. Obviously this isnt a viable long term solution to your problem, but when you’ve got a dead bedroom the hardest part is just getting it going again then it’s no so hard to maintain it.

        • Jeremiah says

          Also your situation isnt nearly as rare as some commenters seem to think. Im guessing a lot of these guys are young and cant imagine a woman wanting more sex with them. Well often times women’s libidos start peaking as men’s libidos start going down. So while it’s quite rare for a 16 year old girl to want more sex than a 16 year old boy it’s noy nearly as rare for a 40 year old wife to want more sex then her 40 year old husband.

          • Jeremiah says

            Oh finally I forgot to mention the possibility that erecticld dysfunction could be the culprit. It’s a thing sometimes even among relatively young men. Obviously there are good medicstions to treat that these days. I think you can even legally get it online these days. Ive seen commercials for a company that’s allowed to perscribe it through a quick little online consultation.

            I wish Quillette would add a freaking edit button so I wouldn’t have to write a new post every time.

  14. Asenath Waite says

    I suppose my anterior cingulate cortex must be rusted up after a couple of decades of disuse.

  15. R Henry says

    Curious that this piece makes no mention of how marriage, for many, is a sacred union, consecrated by our Creator. While few readers here may hold that view, to pretend such views don’t exist, among many contemporary Westerners, is to have an incomplete understanding.

    For those who believe marriage is sacred, and truly a lifelong commitment, talk of sexual “compatibility” seems downright silly. For such married people, the ebbs and flows of lust and sexual desire are intentionally sublimated to the more vitally important–living life as God intended, raising a righteous family, and loving our spouse as a fellow child of God–not as provider of sexual favors.

    • Somewoman says

      I don’t think it’s curious this article makes no mention of imaginary entities and their imagined preferences for human behavior.

      • R Henry says

        Anti-Religious bigotry is not new, avant-garde, or even particularly intellectually rigorous.

        • Somewoman says

          Lack of belief in god is not bigotry. It’s an accurate representation of the evidence humanity has documented and evaluated.

          • R Henry says

            Perhaps you can provide an “accurate” description of how lifeless, inanimate atoms and molecules become animate, living.

            Until you do that, I will continue believing in my “imginary” Creator.

      • Peter from Oz says

        ”I don’t think it’s curious this article makes no mention of imaginary entities and their imagined preferences for human behavior.”
        WHat a silly comment.
        ”Marriage is a honourable estate …”
        The whole basis of modern marriage is based on the Christian ethos.
        I hope you are not one of those tedious women who tell all in sundry how you are an atheist, but then go to Thailand and come back telling all in sundry how ”spiritual” the temples were and how the monks were so ”holy.” The condition is called conservatism by proxy. Most lefty women suffer from it. It seems that they truly want to be wise, but only at one remove.

    • El Uro says

      Marriage is not about sex. Marriage is about children.
      Basic woman’s instinct is not a sex, her basic instinct is a motherhood.
      Mutual adaptation of sexual behavior in marriage is a relatively easy task, although it’s very important. But much more important is to be an equally thin- or thick-skinned. This is the basic of a long and successful marriage.

      BTW, the second man instinct after sex is the call of duty. A man needs a sense of responsibility, it makes his life meaningful and this is something that women find difficult to understand.

      • Stephanie says

        EU, motherhood doesn’t entail responsibility?

        • El Uro says

          Dear Stephanie, I never doubted the responsibility of women;)

          I just wanted to say that men are not so bad. Simply, there is some difficulty in that our sense of responsibility is slightly different from yours. You read us like a book, the only problem is that you do not understand some of the chapters of this book.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      She has a PhD in sex research not Christian theology. Of course she’s not takibg the angle youre talking sbout.

    • Rational Number says

      R Henry
      May 1, 2019
      “Perhaps you can provide an “accurate” description of how lifeless, inanimate atoms and molecules become animate, living.

      Until you do that, I will continue believing in my “imginary” Creator.”

      And your creation myth is accurate ?
      Evolution makes sense. Creationism is manufactured nonsense. Education is usually the antidote to such nonsense.

      • R Henry says

        That God created the world, and the concept of evolution are not mutually exclusive.

    • Pault says

      well shes a scientist, so you’ll have to forgive her for not considering the thoughts of folks who worship the big dream daddy in the sky when she wrote her paper…

      • R Henry says

        Regardless of your personal opinions regarding your own origin and purpose on Earth, it is patently ridiculous to impugn or ignore the reality of religious faith and the deeply significant role it plays in human culture.

        Additionally, “Science” is merely a method to systematically observe reality and develop theories. “Science” has so far been ineffective for the purpose of proving or disproving the existence of a creator–as seems so many atheists are eager to accomplish.

  16. Andrew Scott says

    I frequently see statements such as this: “These emotions serve an evolutionary purpose. Specifically, they allow two people to bond in a way that increases the likelihood they’ll procreate and maintain an environment in which the resulting offspring survive.”

    Does that actually explain anything?

    From another comment:

    “Lack of belief in god is not bigotry. It’s an accurate representation of the evidence humanity has documented and evaluated.”

    Science is a particular way of accumulating knowledge. Neither any scientifically gathered evidence nor the lack of it supports or refutes belief in a creator.

    Here’s what I can state for a certainty about the “evidence humanity has documented and evaluated:” In all of our observations and experiments, molecules don’t self-organize into complex machinery that starts making copies if itself until the individual copies begin improving their systems by competing with each other. Never, ever, ever, except for never, ever. Period.

    When someone says that has happened they are expressing belief in something unconfirmed by observation or experiment. They have gone far beyond the methods of science, and their conclusion has nothing to do with science.

    (Then comes endless links to research papers describing how someone created bubbles of fat that look like cell walls or managed to connect a few amino acids together, all in carefully crafted experiments which demonstrate nothing but the ability of scientists to deliberately create something.)

    • Andrew Scott says

      I’ve heard it this way: It’s like playing 18 rounds of golf and using it as evidence that the ball can go from the first tee to the first hole, to the second tee and second hole, all the way through the 18th hole, all with no player, by means of winds and earthquakes.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Andrew Scott

      The generation of biological life from non-life hasn’t been demonstrated to occur, but it hypothetically could occur within the boundaries of the physical laws that have been demonstrated. It doesn’t require a supernatural explanation.

        • Asenath Waite says

          @R Henry

          See what? I said it hadn’t been demonstrated, nor could it be. It likely would have required an extremely long time to occur. Do you also not believe that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor? I can’t show you that evolutionary process either.

          • max says

            “Perhaps you can provide an “accurate” description of how lifeless, inanimate atoms and molecules become animate, living.”

            Life, in the magical sense that you believe in it, doesnt exist. Every atom, every molecule, every cellular structure in your “living” body is merely behaving according to the laws of physics. It isn’t a miracle that you “live”; that your heart pumps, that your body metabolizes food and oxygen. In fact, it would be a miracle if, without cause, it ceased to do so. “Life” is but a chemical chain reaction, similar to a campfire, but more complex. Since there is no magic, no soul, no divine spark in a campfire, all thats needed to “kill” it is to interrupt the chain reaction. A little dirt to block the oxygen supply, for example, and the chain reaction is halted; the fire is “dead”. And the same is true of a “living” human/animal body.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Asenath Waite

            “It likely would have required an extremely long time to occur.”

            This trope is now accepted without question thru the simple expedient that it is repeated so often than eventually opposition collapses thru exhaustion. Sorta like what Goebbels said about repeating a lie so often that it becomes the truth.

            Can I turn lead into gold if I soak it in the urine of blond haired boys? Yes, that is unquestionably how we make gold. A demonstration you say? How dare you! Are you religious or something? It would take [Carl Sagan accent] beeelions and beeelions of years [accent/] for the demonstration to complete. In the meantime we have faith.

            Only evolutionists are allowed to appeal to faith and ‘beeelions and beeelions of years’ when it comes to claims about chemistry. All other chemical claims are expect to be demonstrated, and yes, some reactions are not instantaneous but none take beeelions and beeelions of years. Furthermore reactions that are clearly in violation of entropy are not going to happen even if we give them treeelions and treeelions of years.

            This is simply an appeal to ignorance, and scientists should not do such things. The heretics Miller and Urey dared to put their faith aside and actually do some chemistry. In flagrant violation of St. Paul’s advice, they decided to “walk by sight, not by faith”. What did they find? They found that the laws of chemistry hold true. There are no miracles in chemistry 🙁 Proteins cannot form spontaneously. By comparison, believing in the virgin birth of Jesus is less of a stretch than believing in Saturday.

        • Johnny Appleseed says

          He/she clearly said it hasnt been demonstrated yet.

        • Johnny Appleseed says

          I dont agree with people unnecessarily shitting on religious people btw. I’m an equal opportunity hater when in comes to people trying to force their belief or non belief on others.

      • Andrew Scott says

        In order to say that something “hypothetically could occur” you need a hypothesis. A hypothesis is not a vague narrative that leaves out the details. You can’t say that something is hypothetically possible without saying what is hypothetically possible. What is it that you are saying is hypothetically possible? Something something ________ something _____ chemicals _______ billions of years _______.

        Please explain why someone designing something is “supernatural.”

        What you’ve achieved is a little word trick. Saying that something is “hypothetically possible” (without actually saying what it is that is) makes it sound science-y and plausible. But what you’re suggesting is that complex organization that duplicates and improves itself – all the way up to the point of building computers and writing literature – is a natural result of chemical interactions, even though nothing in all of accumulated human knowledge suggests that anything like that ever happens.

        Saying that something no one has ever observed or can even imagine is the explanation for everything isn’t science or even logic. It’s religion.

  17. Andrew Scott says

    “Life, in the magical sense that you believe in it, doesnt exist. Every atom, every molecule, every cellular structure in your “living” body is merely behaving according to the laws of physics. It isn’t a miracle that you “live”;”

    Suppose you’re right. What exactly does that change? The question isn’t how life originated. The question is how this biological process that is never known to appear where it didn’t already exist, and which creates such a realistic illusion of life that we think we’re conscious and we experience the illusion of questioning our existence, but which we won’t call “life” – how did that originate?

    Having set aside the rather trivial point that we won’t call it “life” – it’s just a chemical process of which we don’t know the origin and which we can extinguish but not initiate – let’s go back to the previous statement.

    Whatever we choose to call it, the sum total of all human observation that it or anything resembling it ever occurs in the absence of careful design and manufacturing is zero. That’s despite the fact that lots of people have been looking for it really hard.

    • Andrew Scott says

      Here’s something to note:

      Suppose I made this statement: Nothing in the history of human observation indicates that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.

      What would be the response to that? Would someone argue that technically there’s no such thing as lung cancer, it’s just molecules behaving according to the laws of physics?

      No, they would easily refute me because that statement is untrue.

      But when I make this statement: Nothing in the history of human observation indicates that complex, self-reproducing, self-improving processes result from undirected chemical reactions.

      Then the shell game starts. It’s not really life. It’s hypothetically possible except in any sense that involves having a hypothesis. What about that guy who made bubbles that slightly resemble cell walls except for all the fancy parts?

      Do you think people don’t notice?

      • max says

        We have evidence and observation of complex molecules arising spontaneously.

        What we have never seen evidence of is a god or goddess. But the fact that humans have invented and believed in thousands of gods and goddesses is evidence of a human tendency to do so; to fill in the unknowns and uncertainties with intelligent beings.

        • Andrew Scott says

          All molecules are complex. Are you talking about molecules that define the steps for their own replication in an abstract code, make copies of themselves, and then improve themselves in competition with both each other and their environment? No, we have neither evidence nor observation. More word games.

          I can fully understand why another person’s religious beliefs might sound absurd. I also concede that the specific God I believe in or more general idea of a designer does not correspond to anything we can observe.

          Where does that leave us? Life (or the convincing illusion of it – what’s the difference) exists.

          It could have been designed by someone or something which no one can claim to observe.

          Or, it we could believe that it originated as a result of some natural forces which no one can claim to observe, based on no evidence whatsoever that natural forces are capable of any such unintentional organization or execution.

          What definition of “supernatural” or “miraculous” includes the first but not the second?

          “But the fact that humans have invented and believed in thousands of gods and goddesses is evidence of a human tendency to do so; to fill in the unknowns and uncertainties with intelligent beings.”

          That’s a clever attempt to make belief in a creator sound quaint and fanciful. But apparently there’s also now a tendency to fill in unknowns and uncertainties with beliefs in other unknown forces that behave differently from anything in nature as we know it. Some call it “science,” but science is a process that builds upon what we observe. It doesn’t assume that reality behaves according to laws that we haven’t observed. That’s so far from science – sorry, you’re in my corner.

          • max says

            All thats really needed is a self-replicating molecule. From there, evolution (cumulative mistakes in replication) would be pretty expected, as we observe that today.
            Youre trying to assert that a complex molecule that self-replicates arising without a god or goddess is somehow fundamentally different than a complex molecule that doesnt self-replicate arising without a god or goddess. There’s no fundamental difference, its just a different molecule. Whats amazing is, when the day comes that we can observe that in a lab, people like you will still believe in your sky gods.

            “That’s a clever attempt to make belief in a creator sound quaint and fanciful.”

            Nothing clever about it, just stating the obvious. Ancient people hadnt figured out an explanation for the rising and falling of the tides, so they invented and believed in Poseidon. You dont have proof in front of you for a self-replicating molecule arising on its own, so you believe in whatever god or goddess you believe in. Your thinking is on the same level as theirs. Given the age you live in, the lessons of the past, the understanding that molecules as complex as amino acids can form without magic, I find their belief in magic beings to be far more understandable than yours.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Andrew Scott

            ” based on no evidence whatsoever that natural forces are capable of any such unintentional organization or execution”

            Whereas both the creationist and the evolutionist believe in something that has not been observed/demonstrated to be true, the difference is that the creationist claims no different, whereas the evolutionist somehow manages to convince herself that her views are scientific whereas they are not merely un-scientific, they are ANTI-scientific because they are a flaming rejection of the laws of chemistry. What they are in fact is proof that atheism can be a religion held on faith that is every bit the sibling of the theistic religions. Both walk by faith, not by sight. But the evolutionists adds internal contradiction and hypocrisy to their religion unavoidably.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @max

            ” Whats amazing is, when the day comes that we can observe that in a lab, people like you will still believe in your sky gods.”

            People like me (butting in here) won’t. I’d be more than happy with a scientific explanation, but alas we do not have one yet. Your faith that there must not be a creator is just a religious doctrine, which is fine so far as it goes, but it blasphemes when it supposes that it is scientific. It is ANTI-scientific.

            BTW, the Designer needn’t be a deity. Life on Earth might more believably have been seeded by some other life form. Or, as many scientists, speculate, consciousness may be a fundamental property of the universe. As you know, QM seems to almost demand it. The alternative to having one universe with a ‘god’ attached to it seems to be an infinite number of universes. Which is really simpler?

            We’re playing poker and I draw 20 royal flushes in a row. Now, you might yawn and say that in the infinity of the multiverse it is just a matter of time until someone plays 20 royal flushes in a row, so what’s the big deal? But I suggest that what you’d really do is accuse me of cheating. What would Occam say?

            “All thats really needed is a self-replicating molecule.”

            Yup, that’s all. Simple. So make one for us.

            Or maybe not so simple. The molecule will need to absorb energy and use it to make and power atomic level ‘machines’ that physically link molecules that would not otherwise combine. It must have an information system which can mutate, as well as ‘construction’ machinery to produce the products indicated by the information system — one of which products is the information system itself.

            See, even if we had a self-replicating molecule, the only way that ‘mutations’ in that molecule could be accumulated and passed down, is if the mutations are ‘written down’ some way. If my magic molecule makes copies of itself, how do we assure that the changed molecule will not simply produce the original molecule, but now produce the changed version? The production machinery must be agnostic as to what it is asked to produce. That is, it must not break when it is asked to produce a variation. Not so simple.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @max

          “We have evidence and observation of complex molecules arising spontaneously.”

          Examples please? It is true that when entropy permits it, we can have have what appears to be organization, eg. a crystal, but we never have organization and reverse entropy beyond calculably trivial and temporary exceptions. This can be analogized very simply: Put a thousand legos in a big box and shake it. Occasionally the knocking will join two blocks together, but then break them apart again quickly. Once in a blue moon three blocks will unite. Four might be reported after a thousand years of shaking. Five in a million, six in a billion. How long for a thousand? Winning the lottery 20 times in a row would be a commonplace by comparison. And of course the same energy that creates is vastly happier to destroy. Nope, life did not arise spontaneously. Alchemists might believe so, but no scientist possibly could.

          “But the fact that humans have invented and believed in thousands of gods and goddesses is evidence of a human tendency to do so”

          Yes, and one might wonder why. It seems unadaptive. It does not help us eat or reproduce. Apes show not the slightest signs of proto-religion. Supposed explanations abound, but every one of them simply begs the question ‘why?’.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Ray Andrews

            “Only evolutionists are allowed to appeal to faith and ‘beeelions and beeelions of years’ when it comes to claims about chemistry. All other chemical claims are expect to be demonstrated, and yes, some reactions are not instantaneous but none take beeelions and beeelions of years. Furthermore reactions that are clearly in violation of entropy are not going to happen even if we give them treeelions and treeelions of years.”

            Oh, I didn’t expect you to be anti-evolution based on your other comments on this site, which generally seem quite rational. Kind of disappointing. No one said anything about reactions that violate any natural physical laws. There are theoretical models that describe ways in which organic life could have developed from inorganic molecules that adhere completely to the laws of physics.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Asenath Waite

            “Oh, I didn’t expect you to be anti-evolution”

            I’m not. I’m pro-science, which means that truth claims should not be made prematurely. I hold to that rule irrespective of my religious beliefs which you do not know. I accept the facts of diversity and selection because the theoretical models for it do not violate any laws of physics or chemistry, and because they are well demonstrated in nature — we expect them to be true, and we observe them to be true. However the same cannot be said for abiogenesis, which is not demonstrated, has zero natural evidence for it, and which, as a theoretical model, is worse than alchemy.

            ” There are theoretical models that describe ways in which organic life could have developed from inorganic molecules that adhere completely to the laws of physics.”

            Marvelous. Do you have a link? The candidates I’ve seen so far are truly pathetic, but I do not foreclose on future developments and I admit to being not up to date. Who’s to say that we don’t one day have a revolution in chemistry comparable to Einstein’s revolution in physics?

        • Peter Kriens says

          I’m on your side but this is a surprisingly bad argument. We clearly do not have any link to self replicating molecules. All life is based on cells that are extremely complicated machines. On the other side we’ve got lots of paradoxes like what happened before the big bang and quantum mechanics that could easily be used as evidence that there is something more.

          I’m an agnostic and just accept that there is just a lot of stuff we have no explanation for and will hold my judgement until we do.

      • Johnny Appleseed says

        How the hell did this comment thread get this insanely far off topic? lol

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      If you’re saying that a God of some sort created the initial big bang and set the whole process of evolution in motion then that’s at least a valid hypothesis in my opinion. However if youre claiming that God literally designed humans and the concept of evolution is complete BS then that’s pretty fringe.

  18. max says

    “Whatever we choose to call it, the sum total of all human observation that it or anything resembling it ever occurs in the absence of careful design and manufacturing is zero.”

    Not true at all. What we see is complex organization arise from chaos. Snowflakes, for example, with their symmetrical organization, arising from a chaotic cloud of water molecules. Compounds spontaneously from from elements. And complex molecules arising from simpler ones.
    Complexity just happens.

    • Andrew Scott says

      I’m a reasonable person. I don’t need to see snowflakes build civilizations or even combine themselves into complex, self-reproducing machines composed of billions of highly specialized snowflakes.

      …or should I? If you’re comparing snowflakes to living cells – which you are – then snowflakes have been around for a long time and I suppose it is reasonable to expect them to have evolved somewhat. Why haven’t they evolved? What sort of pointless comparison is that?

      This goes back to exactly what I said. In response to the assertion that neither life nor anything resembling it occurs spontaneously, you confidently bring up something that doesn’t resemble life.

      I have to assume that if you had a better example you would use that instead. I find it hard to believe that someone engaged in this sort of discussion would bring forth the weakest point he could think of if he had better options.

      • max says

        “…or should I? If you’re comparing snowflakes to living cells – which you are – then snowflakes have been around for a long time and I suppose it is reasonable to expect them to have evolved somewhat. Why haven’t they evolved? What sort of pointless comparison is that?”

        Youre getting silly. You know the point was that complexity happens on its own. No god needed. Why havent snowflakes evolved? Because they dont reproduce, with errors in the reproductive process causing different traits to emerge over time. DId you really need me to explain that to you?
        Youve gotten too silly to be worth my time. Tell Poseidon I said hello.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @max

          “Youre getting silly. ”

          No sir, but you are getting emotional. You have not answered his challenge. Snowflakes are no help in explaining life whatsoever; that they cannot evolve is exactly the point. You are wise to declare victory and walk away, because if you remain in this conversation any longer you will be refuted and you know it.

      • “This goes back to exactly what I said. In response to the assertion that neither life nor anything resembling it occurs spontaneously”
        Natural selection does not work like a god, it is by minute incremental changes. The energy in one photon can instigate a change as it does in photosynthesis, instigate electron excitment within an atom. None are observable phenomenon to the eye but are known to science and no one has exclusive rights to this knowledge.
        If a god is what you need by all means but dont try and tell all others how it is, you have expressed valid points but i add im sorry, your confidence in your own knowledge shows me you are someone to be vary wary of. Science may not have aĺl the answers but thats ok it has shown us more of how the universe works than any faith based ideology so far.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @max

      “Complexity just happens.”

      No, it doesn’t. As I posted earlier, the ‘organization’ of the crystal only happens in response to an increase in entropy. A crystal is in entropic terms less organized and simpler. Entropy in fact drives everything and so claims that entropy reversed itself are problematic. Scientists should not say such things, they should keep their religions and their science separate.

  19. James A Hargreaves says

    Discussing your kinks is NOT the same as discussing your paraphilias. Arguably one could have ‘kinks’ which are actually disorders, but generally, we wouldn’t associate kinky with one.

  20. Jezza says

    @Gera. Hey, I agree with your sentiment, but people need to know the truth about the human condition if they are to avoid disappointment in life. It is a common error to assume everybody else sees what is blindingly obvious to you – that’s one of my failings-and knowledge doesn’t always aggregate with age. The truth is, and I’ll say it again, the disparity between male and female sexual urges does make it a sellers’ market. That’s a crude term that makes a loving transaction sound like a business deal but that’s not what I meant. It is the ignorance of the disparity which results in disappointment. If they are romantic and swear to love each other all their days – and really mean it – it can be a shock when the baby arrives and suddenly, unexpectedly, her light shines almost exclusively on the new arrival, bless his little cotton socks, and hubby’s left in the dark grieving for something lost. What is instinctively understood by women has to be learned by men. What is instinctively understood by men has to be learned by women. Or men and women can take each other on trust (I don’t recommend that). Just remember you can’t learn to ride a bicycle until you actually have a bicycle. And you will fall off. Be kind and cherish each other.
    At my advanced age all this is merely academic. The only horny thing about me nowadays is my toenails.

  21. Pingback: What does it mean when a community is in a state of emergency? – YFile

  22. The bulk of the comments here show why a brilliant researcher and outstanding communicator like Dr. Soh is so desperately needed!

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      Comment threads everywhere on the internet are garbage. At least with the exception of heavily moderated tight communities. As bad as some of the comments are it’s much better here than every other news type site ive been too that allows easy commenting.

      I too love Dr. Soh btw. She was great when she did the Joe Rogan podcast. If you havent seen it I highly reccomend you check it out on YouTube. I dont always agree with Joe Rogan but he does an amazing job bringing on a massive variety of people with various viewpoints and having a completely calm and civil conversation with them fot 2 to 3 hours. Considering he never shies away from controversial topics it’s a a pretty amaziny feat.

      • I’m just glad Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD, didn’t show up to share TMI.

    • Tome708 says

      The snowflakes are replicating on college campuses

  23. Tome708 says

    The snowflakes do seem to be self replicating on college campuses!

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Tome708

      Ha! Finally, some sort of evidence for abiogenesis! Not only are the snowflakes reproducing, but they are evolving as well. However there is a problem: they become less fit every generation.

  24. Pingback: “Wuv, twue wuv” « Quotulatiousness

  25. Asenath Waite says

    Depressing comments in this thread regarding evolution and the origins of life on earth. Kind of makes me reevaluate taking these commenters seriously on other topics here. Ah well.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Asenath Waite

      Or you might reevaluate your own certainties.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Ray Andrews

        I’d be open to hearing any hypotheses for the origin of life that don’t involve organic living systems developing from inorganic non-living systems and which still conform to natural physical laws. That sentence I just typed doesn’t even make sense. If life originated then what could it have originated from other than non-life? The alternative would seem to be that life has always existed. If your argument is that some sort of creator had to bring life into existence artificially, how did the creator come into existence? Unless we are getting into the realm of the supernatural, at some point life must have developed from non-life. It’s possible that life on earth was imported from some extraterrestrial source, which is another hypothesis I have heard, but in that case it still would have had to have originated on that extraterrestrial source in some manner. If you are simply saying that the precise mechanisms by which abiogenesis occurred are unclear or that the current models are inadequate, that is reasonable, but I don’t see how one can claim to be pro-science and still remain skeptical that biogenesis occurred at all. There is now life. Presumably at the time of the big bang there was no life. How do we get from point A to point B without either abiogenesis or supernatural intervention?

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Asenath Waite

          ” If your argument is that some sort of creator had to bring life into existence artificially, how did the creator come into existence?”

          As I said, if we seed life on Mars, suppose that life eventually evolved to the point of wondering where it came from. Would it be logical for the Martians to say that, since the question of where their creator came from can certainly be asked, it therefore follows that they must have evolved from inorganic matter? Surely not. The fact would be that we created them, and that would remain true irrespective of the question of where we came from.

          “but I don’t see how one can claim to be pro-science and still remain skeptical that biogenesis occurred at all”

          On the contrary, to be pro-science is to remain skeptical at all times and to demand proof of what is claimed to be true.

          “How do we get from point A to point B without either abiogenesis or supernatural intervention?”

          That’s an entirely fair question. Even if we ourselves had some creator, you’re quite right that at some point we come to: life has either always existed (which seems very unlikely given the Big Bang), or we had abiogenesis, or there is something that we can broadly call God. It’s hard to choose. I myself can’t choose, I remain open to all options until there is some descent reason to pick one or the other. But I do say that there is no a priori reason to dismiss what you call the supernatural. As I pointed out, even Quantum Mechanics anticipates the ‘supernatural’. Meanwhile chemical evolution is a dreadful suggestion given what we know about chemistry. If there are miracles in the future regarding the laws of chemistry, I look forward to reading about them.

        • Ben says

          Personally, I believe God always existed. “I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end” if you believe the bible as I do. I have a simple and non questioning faith in something omnipotent and omniscient. Not trying to convince you otherwise, but it’s where I find the most comfort and peace in my life.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      The world is filled with people who have a few strange biases or views, but who are otherwise quite rational and intelligent. Look how many college professors are experts on certain topics but fall into lockstep with extreme social justice warrior nonsense.

      • Andrew Roddy says

        We certainly seem to have a tendency to fill in gaps in our knowledge with some kind of narrative. We seem naturally uneasy with holes in our belief systems. I personally believe that the universe is made out of subatomic packets of narrative energy/potential that have, as yet, defied our, admittedly astonishing, powers of observation and deduction. They are called scealeens but only by me because I am the the only one who knows they are there. Btw scealeen is Irish for little story.

        I hope this helps.

  26. Tony says

    Well, that took all the fun out of it!

  27. Asenath Waite says

    Here’s a good open-access abiogenesis review from 2013.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3718341/

    An excerpt:

    There is good reason to think that the emergence of life on the Earth did not just involve a long string of random chemical events that fortuitously led to a simple living system. If life had emerged in such an arbitrary way, then the mechanistic question of abiogenesis would be fundamentally without explanation—a stupendously improbable chemical outcome whose likelihood of repetition would be virtually zero. However, the general view, now strongly supported by recent studies in systems chemistry, is that the process of abiogenesis was governed by underlying physico-chemical principles, and the central goal of origin of life studies should therefore be to delineate those principles. Significantly, even if the underlying principles governing the transformation of inanimate to animate were to be revealed, that would still not mean that the precise historic path could be specified.

    • Asenath Waite says

      Another article by the same authors:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3843823/

      Abstract:
      The origin of life (OOL) problem remains one of the more challenging scientific questions of all time. In this essay, we propose that following recent experimental and theoretical advances in systems chemistry, the underlying principle governing the emergence of life on the Earth can in its broadest sense be specified, and may be stated as follows: all stable (persistent) replicating systems will tend to evolve over time towards systems of greater stability. The stability kind referred to, however, is dynamic kinetic stability, and quite distinct from the traditional thermodynamic stability which conventionally dominates physical and chemical thinking. Significantly, that stability kind is generally found to be enhanced by increasing complexification, since added features in the replicating system that improve replication efficiency will be reproduced, thereby offering an explanation for the emergence of life’s extraordinary complexity. On the basis of that simple principle, a fundamental reassessment of the underlying chemistry-biology relationship is possible, one with broad ramifications. In the context of the OOL question, this novel perspective can assist in clarifying central ahistoric aspects of abiogenesis, as opposed to the many historic aspects that have probably been forever lost in the mists of time.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Asenath Waite

      Thanks that looks worth reading.

      “a stupendously improbable chemical outcome whose likelihood of repetition would be virtually zero”

      Yes. Honest scientists can admit it. You should, too.

      “was governed by underlying physico-chemical principles”

      Ok. But this postulates entirely new laws. It is entirely legitimate to go looking for new laws and I wish them godspeed. Should the day come when we have discovered ‘underlying physico-chemical principles’, whatever that might mean, then we may start developing hypotheses as to OOL. Until then to claim that abiogenesis is a scientific idea is blasphemous, it does not even qualify as a pre-hypothesis. It is a doctrinal speculation made necessary by the other doctrines of atheism. Much more respectable to claim that astrology is science. Meanwhile, those of us with open minds understand that there is zero reason to reject, a priori, the speculation that life on Earth was ‘seeded’, or even that it was created by a deity.

      The funny thing is that when one postulates some alien super-beings seeding life on Earth in the context of science fiction no one has any objection to the idea at all, in fact it’s chique to believe it. Strange, eh?

      BTW Asenath, good to start a reply with ‘@Ray Andrews’ so that I’m sure to see it. I only found the above by chance, and it was well deserving of a response.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Ray Andrews

        “Yes. Honest scientists can admit it. You should, too.”

        You take that line out of context. Pretty sure this scientist who has devoted his career to studying abiogenesis is a proponent of the concept of abiogenesis and probably doesn’t think intervention by a supernatural deity is a valid counter-hypothesis. He’s saying that the process was probably not completely random in that chemical principles which have not yet been adequately delineated likely reinforced the likelihood of successive steps of the process occurring, leading to a chain reaction of events with increasing probability.

        “Ok. But this postulates entirely new laws”

        No, it postulates new understanding of chemical principles that would decrease the arbitrariness and increase the probability of the steps necessary for abiogenesis to take place.

        “when one postulates some alien super-beings seeding life on Earth”

        Where did the alien super-beings come from? Other alien superbeings created them? Where did those alien-superbeings come from? If they are supposed to be of supernatural origin, this idea is by definition unscientific.

        “good to start a reply with”

        I was not responding to you directly with the above comments. I was putting information out there generally as several other people in this thread had also been voicing the idea that the origins of life require magical explanation.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Asenath Waite

          “No, it postulates new understanding of chemical principles that would decrease the arbitrariness and increase the probability of the steps necessary for abiogenesis to take place.”

          As you prefer. New understanding, or new laws, either way, the science of chemistry as we now have it cannot explain abiogenesis. In fact, the science as we now have it is very clear why proteins will never form spontaneously. The science as we now have it is also very robust. Apart from a desperate search for some explanation for abiogenesis, there are no unsolved problems in chemistry. It is in effect a ‘finished’ science. I myself doubt very much that there are revelations to come, but I can’t be sure about that either.

          “Where did those alien-superbeings come from?”

          Good question, but it is another question. If we one day seed life somewhere, say on Mars, we will have seeded that life, and where we came from is another issue.

          If they are supposed to be of supernatural origin, this idea is by definition unscientific.

          I didn’t say supernatural, I said super-being since, in SF, our alien creators are usually portrayed as such.

          “the origins of life require magical explanation”

          I hadn’t noticed anyone invoking magic. I put it to you that the diesel engine did not evolve spontaneously, it was designed and prototyped by Herr Doktor Rudolf Diesel. Is that magical thinking on my part? Must we reject design when we clearly see it? If so, why? If not for the Diesel engine, then why for life?

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Ray Andrews

            Sorry for the stuff I said earlier. I should not disparage anyone’s beliefs. We should all hold onto whatever meaning in life we can find. Goodness knows it is in short supply.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Asenath Waite

            Thank you My Lady. But it is very common for atheists to suppose that their beliefs are ‘scientific’ and to thus get a bit arrogant. The question of how we got here is still very open to debate. As for me, I believe we simply do not yet have anything even close to a satisfying explanation and we should not presume that we do. God(s) reek of superstition. But abiogenesis reeks of alchemy. I choose the integrity of chemistry because chemistry has proven trustworthy. You say you can turn donkey piss into cognac? That’s wonderful … please demonstrate. That’s how we do things in science, we demonstrate them.

  28. ccscientist says

    One of the dangers of casual sex is that the bonding hormones don’t care about your intentions: you can bond with someone because of sex even if not compatible or you don’t know them well. Thus you risk emotional involvement when you just thought you were having fun. I believe this risk, and thus pain, is greater for women.

  29. Will T says

    You wake up early as a preservation of the
    day.

    You hold to a light dinner, to elect a stillness
    to your mind.

    You listen without speaking as a shrine to
    their breath.

    Sex, also a reflection of your deed.

    The hedonist like a baby, needs the tireless jangling of keys to abide their lack of articulation.

    If attraction is by the 5 senses, then
    true love is an act.

    Love is something you do.

  30. Aleph from Paris says

    SEX, LOVE, AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM: “We all remember the first time we fell in love.”

    Well, all I am interested in is the next time I’ll have sex. And also with whom.

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