Pheylethylamine, Oxytocin and infidelity

Pheylethylamine, Oxytocin and infidelity

Postby GoodHusband » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:42 am

Michelle Langley wrote a book called "Women's Infidelity". It looks like it is self published and Langley is not a physician or mental health professional. But, our couples counselor recommended it after my wife had an affair so I read the book and it's sequel. It is mostly about Langley's interviews with about 200 people that have had affairs or been through them and her thoughts on the subject.

Anyhow, here is my question. Langley says Pheylethylamine (or PEA) is the brain chemical responsible for the "crack high" associated with an affair. Haltzman says the "crack high" is due to dopamine, adrenaline and low serotonin. Langley is the only one who says Pheylethylamine is associated with affairs and infidelity from my Internet searches. So does this lady know what she is talking about? Is Pheylethylamine associated with infidelity?

Here are some of the things Langley says about PEA and infidelity:

"The brain chemical is called pheylethylamine, or PEA for short. The feeling experienced when PEA is triggered in the brain is similar to the feeling one would experience after snorting cocaine. PEA is a euphoria-inducing stimulant." [...] "Just thinking about a person can increase levels of PEA, which is why we spend so much time fantasizing about the people we are attracted to. It gives us a buzz. But, the more we’re around the person, the less capable we are of experienc- ing the high we felt in the beginning of the relationship. Our bodies build up a tolerance to PEA, much as they do to some of the drugs we smoke, snort, or ingest. Also, as with drugs, PEA is addictive." p.13

"...keep in mind that her attraction to the guy is giving her a shot of amphetamine, or to put it more accurately is increasing the rate at which her brain produces PEA. Since she’s married, she feels like she can’t be with the guy, so she wants him even more. Striving for something or looking forward to something produces a stimulant effect in the brain. I suspect she’s constantly looking forward to seeing the guy. Because she’s living in a state of fear, her fight-or-flight response is regularly triggered, giving her ongoing adrenaline rushes." pp.94-95

She quotes Theresa Crenshaw in The Alchemy of Love and Lust: How Our Sex Hormones Influence Our Relationships.
“...Abnormally high PEA levels appear more often in women than in men. They typically occur at or near ovulation. This would seem to indicate a role for PEA in our desire to mate and procreate.”

Later on in the book she says some people are more prone to cheating due to brain chemistry the same way some people are more prone to other types of addiction:
"Withdrawel is harder for some people than it is for others. The higher a person gets from PEA, the harder the crash. Just as some individuals are naturally more prone to alcoholism or substance abuse, some are more prone to love addictions. We typically view the married who don’t screw around and remain faithful as having good morals; however, due to differences in brain chemistry, some people are by nature less likely to screw around. Think of it this way: cocaine is the drug of choice for some, heroin for others." p. 184

Langley also talks about the role of oxytocin in committed relationships. She says oxytocin levels rise through time, touching and orgasm:
"To please a woman sexually, a man must be willing to devote the time needed to help her feel relaxed and comfort- able through conversation and affection prior to touching her sexually. This stimulates the release of oxytocin and helps arouse her sexually. Sexual satisfaction is achieved through arousal followed by orgasm, followed by more affection and possibly another orgasm. None of these steps requires a future commitment, but they do require a man’s time as well as his desire." [...] "Oxytocin works like a bonding agent." p. 76

She quotes Michael R. Liebowitz, The Chemistry of Love.
"Biologically, it appears that we have evolved two distinct chemical systems for romance; one basically serves to bring people together. The first is attraction. At- traction is the excitement we feel when falling in love, and is quite similar to what happens when we take a stimulant drug. The second, which helps keep people together, is attachment. Attachment has more to do with feelings of security than of excitement. It too has a number of drug analogies, although surprisingly it may have more to do with narcotics than any other drug type.”

Anyhow, Langley seems to have done a fair amount of research in both her reading on the topic and personal interviews and what she has to say is fascinating. Of particular interest is her contention that their are two parts to the mating process: attraction/excitement which is produced by PEA and is experienced in the beginning of a relationship and security/attachment which is produced by oxytocin and is experienced later in the relationship. As attachment and security waxes, excitement and attraction wanes opening the door for infidelity. Once a spouse starts to dabble in infidelity an addiction begins to form due to the drug-like nature of PEA.

I'm just wondering how accurate her analysis is of her research.
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