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A budding relationship or just a one-night stand? The difference may not be immediately obvious, least of all to those directly involved. However, sex helps initiate romantic relationships between potential partners, a new study finds. Sex motivates human beings to connect, regardless of gender. The study was limited to heterosexual relationships. According to Birnbaum, some believe that men are more likely than women to initiate relationships when sexually aroused, but when one focuses on more subtle relationship-initiating strategies, such as providing help, this pattern does not hold true: in fact, both men and women try to connect with potential partners when sexually aroused.
In four interrelated studies, participants were introduced to a new acquaintance of the opposite sex in a face-to-face encounter. The researchers demonstrate that sexual desire triggers behaviors that can promote emotional bonding during these encounters. In the first study, the researchers looked at whether sexual desire for a new acquaintance would be associated with non-verbal cues aling relationship interest. These so-called immediacy behaviors are displayed in the synchronization of movements, close physical proximity, and frequent eye contact with a study insider who worked with the scientists.
The study participants, all of whom identified as single in addition to heterosexual, were recruited at a university in central Israel. What then could explain the role of sex in fostering partnerships? Human sexual behavior evolved to ensure reproduction.
However, the prolonged helplessness of human children promoted the development of mechanisms that keep sexual partners bonded to each other so that they can tly care for their offspring, says Birnbaum, whose collaboration with Reis spans 20 years, dating back to her postdoc days at the University of Rochester. Prior neuroimaging research has shown that similar brain regions the caudate, insula, and putamen are activated when a person experiences either sexual desire or romantic love. The researchers surmise that this pattern hints at a neurological pathway that causes sexual activation—the neural processes that underlie a sexual response—to affect emotional bonding.
They conclude that experiencing sexual desire between ly unacquainted strangers may help facilitate behaviors that cultivate personal closeness and bonding. Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer to experience this site as intended. Cut to the chase: Can sex help start a relationship? January 7, In a new study, researchers demonstrate how sex and sexual desire play a major role not only in attracting potential partners to each other, but also in encouraging the formation of romantic relationships and emotional bonding.
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