Beware Of Novelty As An Aphrodisiac

Marnia Robinson writes:

All of this means that much of today’s sex advice won’t work well for lovers who want to remain paired. It’s based on the dopamine-cranking “novelty-as-aphrodisiac” strategy: trying a new sex toy, watching porn, swapping partners, acting out a kinky fantasy, engaging in daring or painful sex, and so forth. Novelty and fear are certainly arousing. Yet novelty-as-aphrodisiac has drawbacks.

First, once you’ve tried something, it’s not novel anymore. To get the same thrill from it in the future, you may have to ratchet up the stimulation. That is, novelty-as-aphrodisiac is not sustainable. After you’ve pounded your brain with the excess dopamine produced by the obvious options, what do you do?

Second, too much stimulation can actually numb the brain’s pleasure response. So, instead of feeling more contented or more bonded, lovers may feel more dissatisfied than ever in between intense, novelty-induced climaxes. Until you return your brains to normal sensitivity, you may look even duller to each other.

Suggestion: If you wish to sustain your pair bond as a source of contentment, first take a lesson from prairie voles: Do what you can to avoid the overstimulation that impairs bonding. This advice may be especially critical today because tempting novel mates are far more prevalent than they were as our brains evolved. (A kid in high school sees more hotties in the hall between classes than his ancestors saw in a lifetime, not to mention virtual hotties.)

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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