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The brain-chemical high. Do normal people get it?

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20WrongsVs1 posted 10/9/2013 18:47 PM

During my A I experienced an intense phenylethylamine high, from which I've had great difficulty detoxing. A book I read about CSA victims (Sexual Healing Journey by Maltz) says the chemical rush from illicit sex can be particularly potent for CSA survivors.

When I told my IC at an early session that the feelings I had with AP were like a drug, she said, "Not like. It is a drug." Another book I'm reading indicates that my AP may have been particularly adept at stoking my brain chemicals, to "hook me" on him. (Standard disclaimer: nothing written herein is an expressed or implied excuse for my actions, which are solely mine and not associated with this station or its advertisers.)

BH hates that I got that high from AP, but he does empathize because he's experienced it from (shall we say) unconventional sexual encounters also. I will also state for the record that I recognize my addiction to that drug is dangerous, I'm working to kick it, and it was so not "worth it." We often use the terms "detox" and "withdrawal" here on SI in the A context, but I don't recall it being used to refer to garden-variety relationship break-ups. All of which is a preface to this...

Question: do normally-adjusted people ever experience that intense high, within healthy relationships?

Darkness Falls posted 10/9/2013 18:55 PM

I can't speak for anyone else but I was under the impression that most people feel a sort of brain-chemical high when in a newly-intense, newly-passionate relationship. I know I did at the beginning of almost all of my relationships and I've heard many others say the same.

However, I have no experience with CSAB issues so I don't know the science of how later sexual experiences factor in, or anything about risky sex, etc. I can only speak to my feeling what I think you're describing in the early stages of so-called "normal" relationships.

JustDesserts posted 10/9/2013 19:10 PM

Yes, felt the "highs" in pre-affair relationships, intensely so with my wife.

Yes, felt highs with xAP, with the added kick of the secret/illicit factors which my alcoholic/addict self found just peachy effing dandy. Add in my fantasy constructing active imagination, and it's no wonder I related so much to the acute withdrawal and rejection threads.

I can't speak for "normal" though. I'm not thinking I qualify.

20WrongsVs1 posted 10/9/2013 19:28 PM

Chapman in The 5 Love Languages devotes a chapter to the euphoric in-love experience that characterizes many new relationships. That's not what I'm getting at here. Or, at least personally, I don't recall having such intense highs in the early days of my previous "normal" (by which I mean societally-sanctioned healthy/conventional) relationships in a previous millennium.

Then again my A was relatively short, 3 months (mostly LD), so it never got past the shiny-new stage.

HardenMyHeart posted 10/9/2013 19:49 PM

Limerence is nothing new. It's natures way of getting us to mate and stay together just long enough to begin raising a child.

You may find the following article of interest, titled:
Limerence and the Biochemical Roots of Love Addiction

NoGoodUsername posted 10/9/2013 19:55 PM

Yes. I have always joked that women are my favorite drug.

I have gotten that high plenty of times from healthy, bonded sexual encounters. It requires some work, anticipation, to make it happen, but yes my wife can absolutely do it to me.
As far as a history of CSA, nope. None of the complications of my childhood had a thing to do with abuse.

sailorgirl posted 10/9/2013 19:59 PM

I don't think so, but I'm not really sure what kind of feeling you mean!

Complete well-being and peace? That I've felt at the highest level after childbirth . . . Also during/after long distance running.

Intense anticipation and excitement? In the early stages of teenaged-20's relationships. But it wasn't wholly a positive feeling--too obsessive, jumpy and queasy.

I have had to take narcotics for surgical pain and migraine pain. Maybe you're referring to that type of high? If so, nothing in regular life equal that. But it's followed by depression for me when it wears off, and not worth it at all!

For the record, my FOO was the Brady Bunch and I'm basically a thrill avoider. (I do like adventure sports, but not the extreme versions.) My addictions are caffeine in the morning and SI!

fWH, on the other hand, was what you might call unadjusted and toxified by FOO and abuse. I will be asking him about chemical rushes.

Jono posted 10/10/2013 06:01 AM

The dopamine/PEA highs are normal and occur in all normal relationships at inception. It is a biological design that enables new-found partners to be blinded to the faults of their mate and to establish a relationship. That high wears off after 12 to 18 months and is replaced by an oxytocin input (the kiss/cuddle hormaone) which is then present in enduring relationships.

Some people jump from relationship to relationship for that dopamine/PEA high.

During that 'high' phase the couple hopefully develop other mutual interests (like children) that bond them going forward when the hormonal high subsides.

Long term it is personality that becomes the principal factor governing relationship success and that is something that cannot accurately be established until the relationship has been underway for many months.

20WrongsVs1 posted 10/10/2013 08:17 AM

HardenMyHeart, thanks for the article! I've heard the term, but wasn't exactly certain of its meaning. This stuck out, because it's so appropriate to my question:

While some experts view limerence as a natural part of early love, others are evaluating its potential placement in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For now, the best course of action is to begin addressing unhealthy relationship patterns with a therapist.

I'd amend that to say the best course of action is to *stop* the unhealthy relationship patterns, and *stay stopped* with a therapist's help.

sailorgirl, I did feel (and I've seen others on SI say they felt) like a giddy teenager during my As, so it's like that, combined with the endorphin rush from running.

bionicgal posted 10/10/2013 16:08 PM

I pointed out to my H the other day that because he and his AP usually exercised together, that they got the double-whammy of endorphins and the dopamine/PEA highs. Pisses me off! I always knew the gym could be a dangerous place. . . (and I love a good endorphin high, but alas, I was home taking care of the youngin while they had time at the gym. Lovely, huh?)

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