A current article on Playboy by Dr. Lehmiller about the effects of birth control on sexual attraction blew my mind.
In short, various studies have been conducted to validate the ovulatory shift hypothesis, which is the idea that a woman’s ovulation cycle changes her sexual attraction towards men. When at the height of ovulation and hormonal shifts, her desire for more masculine men increases ( as would her flirtation and chance of cheating) and when the cycle levels down to “normal”, her idea of a sexy guy can be different and it had nothing to do with anything anyone really did but everything to do with what her hormones did. The kicker is women on birth control don't experience this cycle flux and thus have a more stable, so to speak, attraction towards particular men. Really think about the implications of this in how we understand ourselves and the way we deal in sexual relationships.
If you thought relationships were difficult before, the involuntary activity of hormones has just thrown us a fundamental curve ball into the understanding of relationships and sexual desire even more than just "the menstrual period". It's the ovulation that dampers or enhances the attraction and chaos of emotion and action. I keep saying it because it's true: everything is centered around sexuality.
Ovulation doesn't just effect HER, the woman at "that time of the month" when men don't get it. It effects HIM, the way the guy - boyfriend, husband or lover - is sexually attractive to her and she's not even in conscious control of it. If you want to talk about a loss of control, the guys are on the bad end of the stick here. This puts both sexes into a confusing mess but for men it must be even more difficult to understand why or why she's not interested. This also has some deep implications for questionable rape cases where she found his dominance erotic a few weeks ago and now she's changed her mind. I'm not making light of rape but it does call into question the means by which her yes may have changed to a no and not clearly to him or her during the time of sex. It adds a layer of complexity which might modify the blame factor to a different footing...not necessarily making it easier but if we seek truth then we must be open to the information that propels it to the surface.
This birth control affects sexual desire information changes the spin on what we really know about ourselves and the control we have over our thoughts versus our actions affected through the interaction of hormones in our body. It literally changes the perception men and women have of each other. It begs deeper inquiry and contemplation to the fact that society prints too many regulations – moral, social and sexual – into these defining terms of what’s expected of and from us in “relationships”, “sex” and “love”.
In my mind, after researching love and sexuality through philosophical means for over 10 years, I am continually drawn to the realization that free will works best for our interpretation from point B to point C, but from point A to point B, there’s a deeper force at work. Call it hormones or call it divine, the reality is that there simply are mysteries that nudge us or force us into actions we might not have made while not under the influence of hormones. How responsible does this truly make us? These are fine lines difficult to discuss because the tendency is to simplify blame and error onto "shoulds" that naturally might not be existing but merely from the perceptual seat of one's consciousness dictating demands over involuntary bodily mechanisms.
Relationships are challenging enough and when we dismiss the real effects of hormone shifts in us, we dismiss an inconvenient truth: we are not 100% in control of how we feel or behave; we merely attain to be and society, culture and religion create and demand strict efforts despite times when biology pulls its sovereignty on its own terms. This conflict is the Human life, to be in control of what is primal within us because our primal nature can be so unpredictable and wild. To balance them, the primal and the "consciously human" is the goal. Good luck with that too. I'm still on the balance beam on that one.