Why Is Romeo Ignoring Juliet?

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Is overstimulation driving the sexes apart?

Anti-love Cupid"Young Japanese men are growing indifferent or even averse to sex, while married couples are starting to have it even less," reports The Wall Street Journal, citing a 2010 poll. The trend is escalating rapidly. More than 36% of men aged 16 to 19 have no interest in sex, more than double the 17.5 % from 2008.

Men between 20 and 24 showed a similar trend, jumping from 11.8 % to 21.5 %, while men between 45 and 49 leaped from 8.7 % to 22.1 %.

Japan isn't alone. In France, a 2008 survey found that 20 percent of younger French men had no interest in sex. American men are reporting unwanted changes too. And see Italians Suffer 'Sexual Anorexia' After Internet Porn Use.

Said the director of the Japanese survey, "Those in the younger generation seem to find it especially cumbersome dealing with others face-to-face. Basically, there is this general lack of communication taking place between men and women." While the female figures weren't as drastic, Juliets of all ages, who were either uninterested or averse to having sex, also saw an increase.

What's going on? And why are the younger folks, who have traditionally been the most eager to 'do it,' disproportionately affected? Said a man who has lived and worked in Japan for the past 18 years, "There is no way on earth that [so many] Japanese males are uninterested in sex. I don't think that could be said about any society, particularly not the porn-saturated Japanese society." Reported another observer, "Japan has lots of porn. An unholy amount, in fact, probably more than any country in Asia or Europe."

So, the issue is not whether young men are interested in orgasm. Their heavy porn use shows they are. The issue is why they aren't interested in sex with live partners. Keep in mind that porn has long been an accepted, prominent part of Japanese culture, so we can't blame sexual repression.

Could these statistics be related to the increase in intensity of stimulation available via the Internet and today's superstimulating masturbation toys? (Hi-tech Japanese masturbation-devices make our Fleshlight look like something you'd get at Dollar Tree.)

Brains not genitals

The sensation of sexual arousal ultimately arises between the ears, not the legs. Although extremeness of stimuli certainly plays a role, degree of arousal is determined by amount of, and sensitivity to, exciting neurochemicals released in a primitive part of the brain known as the reward circuitry. At base, sexual arousal is our most powerful natural high, fueled by our own endogenous neurochemicals.

The neurochemical most responsible for the compelling nature of sexual arousal (and mating) is dopamine. Dopamine stimulates our "Gotta get it!" reward circuitry with the message: "Something really good is right around the corner if I just keep going." When rats were wired so that they could tap a lever to stimulate this reward circuitry in the brain, they did nothing else. They tapped until they dropped, ignoring unweaned pups—and receptive females.

Dopamine is also behind the rush of cocaine, by the way. Cocaine blocks dopamine's reuptake, so it lingers in the brain pumping out exciting signals. Our reward circuitry obviously didn't evolve to get us high on cocaine—or gambling, alcohol, hentai, cam2cam sex, or any other substitute capable of hijacking this circuitry. It evolved because it bonded us successfully with our tribes, mates and kids. When we fall in love/lust, we literally get hooked on a mate—at least for a time.

Our ability to pair bond is completely dependent on blasts of dopamine goosing our love (reward) circuits. Yet this mechanism only works as intended if there's nothing around triggering the production of more dopamine than evolution's intended targets (tribes, mates and kids).

Alas, today's synthetic, hyperstimulation triggers more potent dopamine trips than anything our ancestors experienced. Novelty alone releases dopamine, so the simple fact that today's Internet user can always click to something new can make today's porn a more compelling stimulus than a familiar partner.

The younger the Internet user, the more exclusively he has likely relied on the supranormal stimulation of today's free, streaming, ever-novel porn—and hyperstimulating masturbation devices. Perhaps this is why younger men are showing higher rates of indifference to real mates.

Pair bonds at risk

Too much stimulation, such as Internet porn and sex toys provide can impair relationshipsCould our young Romeos (and some Juliets) be so high on their own artificially jacked-up dopamine, via these superstimulating sexual aids, that courting and real partners don't register as rewarding by comparison? Outlandish as is sounds to suggest that too much stimulation of the brain can interfere with the mammalian pair-bonding mechanism, it seems to be happening. Said American sex therapist Wendy Maltz:

With science-fiction strangeness, porn [is] competing with real-life partners, and [is] even emerging as the most important object of some clients' sexual desires.

Perhaps it's not so outlandish. Last year, when scientists jacked up dopamine in the brains of pair-bonding animals using chemical stimulation (amphetamine), the naturally monogamous animals no longer formed a preference for one partner. The artificial stimulation had hijacked their dopamine-dependent bonding machinery, leaving them just like regular (promiscuous) mammals—in which the brain circuits for lasting bonds are absent.

Normally these animals (voles) bond securely, and subsequently experience aversion to would-be home wreckers who show up looking for action. Researchers hypothesized that hyperstimulation somehow kicked in the protective aversion response immediately, forestalling pair-bond formation altogether.

Research also suggests that supranormal stimulation weakens pair bonds in humans. According to a 2007 study, mere exposure to numerous sexy female images causes a man to devalue his real-life partner. He rates her lower not only on attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence. Also, after pornography consumption, subjects of both sexes report less satisfaction with their intimate partner—including the partner's affection, appearance, sexual curiosity and performance. Also, both men and women assign increased importance to sex without emotional involvement.

Should we care that today's superstimulating sex aids are interfering with our mating program? After all, the planet's really crowded.

Here are three reasons to care:

First, too much stimulation can actually reduce our capacity for pleasure by numbing the brain's reward circuitry. This can lead to a dissatisfied quest for stronger and stronger stimuli—increasing the risk of addiction, depression, anxiety, irritability, concentration problems and so forth, as dopamine dysregulation escalates. As Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky explained in Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: "Unnaturally strong explosions of synthetic experience and sensation and pleasure evoke unnaturally strong degrees of habituation....Our tragedy is that we just become hungrier."

Second, this numbing process can also decrease sexual responsiveness. More and more men in their twenties are reporting erectile dysfunction. Experts theorize that environmental toxins, stress and poor diet are the culprits, but they're ignoring the elephant in the room. Too much stimulation (dopamine) can cause a decrease in some of the very dopamine receptors vital for healthy erections, as explained in this slide presentation Erectile Dysfunction and Porn.

Incidentally, Juliet appears to be numbing her sexual responsiveness too. A woman recently posted:

I started using a vibrator in college, thinking I was a modern, sexually-empowered woman, and couldn't believe how effectively it got the job done. Within a month, I could no longer orgasm with my boyfriend, and a few months after that, I couldn't even do it with my hand. The vibrator went in the trash, and my responsiveness eventually came back.

Third, as tribal, pair-bonding primates, we're wired to thrive on the brain chemistry produced by close, trusted companionship and warm affection. Sex toys and masturbation to porn don't deliver those same neurochemical benefits.

We profit from interdependence not just at key points of our childhood, as Freud postulated, but throughout our lives. For example, connection helps reduce cortisol, which can otherwise weaken our immune system under stress. "It's much less wear and tear on us if we have someone there to help regulate us," explains psychologist/neuroscientist James A. Coan.

The gains from connection show up in very real terms. For example, daily warm touch between couples benefits men by lowering blood pressure. HIV patients with a partner live longer and develop AIDS less rapidly. Wounds heal twice as fast with companionship, as compared with isolation. Yet the most profound gifts of close connection may be psychological. Close emotional connections are associated with lower rates of addiction and depression. They change the neural patterns and brain chemistry of those who engage in them, bolstering their sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible.

Perhaps because of its potential for health-giving attachment, intercourse has more beneficial effects on the body than masturbation. Intercourse releases neurochemicals that reduce stress better, and the benefits linger for days. In fact—with or without sex—frequent affection is normally very soothing and rewarding for pair-bonding species. However, when we're not able to feel subtle pleasures due to blunted brain sensitivity, affection seems pointless or even aversive.

Couple kissingHappily, those who stop masturbating to porn generally notice a marked improvement in their ability to socialize, flirt and perceive the attractiveness of normal potential mates.  When excessive stimulation stops, the reward circuitry again becomes sensitive to the rewards it evolved to find: friendly interaction and real mates, among others.

Not long after quitting porn I noticed increased energy, increased attention, and higher self-esteem. After a month—although it took several tries to get there—those improvements were all through the roof. A couple of months later, I was having real sex. It is nice to get aroused by little things, like a revealing blouse or just a woman's flowing, shiny hair and fragrance.

Maybe there's still hope for Romeo and Juliet.


Porn viewing messes up with a man's normal sexual drive, to the point of starting to feel disinterested with real people.

And the biggest enlightenment I've had over this was that WOMEN WERE RIGHT!

Porn is obviously male-centered, and whenever I had a woman speak about porn my reaction was: "how does she know?" as if she didnt know what she was talking about and that porn didnt take anything away from her, that it wasnt cheating one bit, and stuff like that.

But I've come to realize that porn is like safety wheels. When it becomes too present, it starts to become how men regulate their sexual drives, and it takes them into fantasies that are ever changing, having access to a seemingly unlimited amount of pictures and videos about different kinds of women and sex at our fingertips. But it also takes you away from a normal sex life, subconsciously, we don't have the same urges that a pornless man would in a normal everyday situation.

It's a subconscious process, why go for normal women when you can have access to everything, for free, quickly and in massive amounts? I think a man's sexual drive is supposed to push you to meet women, to interact with them and to respond normally to her needs and whatnot, while porn makes you think, subconsciouly, if she won't have sex with me right now, I can always go on porntube and have all the stimuli I want so she can go to hell. It is competition for women that is both unhealthy, because of course it's never has satisfying has the real thing, and unfair, because you can look at any kind of women, and any amount of them, in any way you want.

And the worst thing about porn is that you know it isn't completely satisfying. It's not the real deal and it will never come close. So you are there thinking why you don't have a healthy sex life, thinking why aren't you meeting women normally , why you're still alone and you don't even link porn with it, because you think porn is healthy, that it doesn't do any harm to you. But it's taking away your sexual drive and morphing it into something that's artificial and never satisfying.


From a woman who is running out of tears. I need advice.

NorwellWilliam 1 hour ago

Seems like most people here are just going straight to "break up with him", but I think you obviously considered that but came here for some other advice.

My opinion is, you should give him a chance. I am a psychology student and also didn't know about nofap for a long time. From my personal experience, fapping can fuck an entire relationship and I just didn't know better. When you are in a relationship and in the side still faps to porn it really messes up your brain, because even though you may love who you're with, your brain understands that you're also getting all these other hot girls in movies and that's the normal, so you just go and message other girls. It's like automatic, not even thinking about it. I was in a 3 year relationship that I messed it up and I think if I knew about nofap I wouldn't have. We both ended up cheating in the relationship and even though we tried working it out, my brain was way too messed up with everything that was going and there was a lot of drinking involved as well. When you're fapping to porn all the time all your thoughts are nebulous and it is hard to think clearly. It's just SO easy to blow up. In the end I was simply a complete asshole to her and couldn't think straight and now I not only lost a 3 year relationship but also my best friend. But maybe things happen for the best because at least for me, when I lost this friendship that was so important to me, I knew I had to change a lot of things about my life and starting nofap was one of them. Also eating healthy, working out, and now I only drink alcohol in special occasions. I do think nofap was really helpful with all this, although I haven't been in it for too long. But it seems like it is not hard to stop fapping. It is not like cigarettes that you have withdraws. It's just that when you decide to do it, you do it, and when that happens, it becomes much easier to let go of all other bad addictions. All I know is that now I feel better than I have ever felt.

So what I suggest is to tell him about nofap somehow and make sure he sees this TED talk. And give him ONE chance. I really feel if I had known about this when I was in a relationship I wouldn't have been as much of an asshole. I would've also been able to control my drinking and eat healthy and just at least keep my friendship. If you want have him read my comment. If he is still with you is because he probably wants to try to change. Maybe he just doesn't have the right information. If you want to change, nofap is a great way to start. If you do give him all the information he needs and he still chooses to be who he is, then it might just be time to move on.

I hope this helps in some way :)