Great dates, but then I lose interest. What’s my issue?

 LugNuggets asks: 

I have recently been getting back out into the dating world. Having had successful dates and also not so sucessful ones. I have been having a personal issue about my history in dating. I go out with women I am attracted to and get along with really well. However something is stopping me from being excited to see these women again.

Going out on a date with someone new is always exciting, stressful, tons of different emotions. The problem for me is that after a date successful or not, where I hook up with them or just part ways, I look back the next couple of days and something just changes. I don’t really feel like going out to see them again or following up with another date. I try to get myself excited about seeing them again especially after a successful date. However I just lose interest all together, I don’t know why, they are all women I’m sexually attracted to, I just lose interest for no reason.

I’m wondering if anyone else has these kinds of issues when it comes to relationships. I want things to work out but I just don’t feel it.

Demetrius says:

Well right off the bat I think I know what your issue is. It sounds like you’re the type of person who likes the chase more than dating. It’s actually pretty common, but I think that you’re unique in that most guys who like the chase usually lose interest after sex, not a good first date. There is some hope, so don’t worry, but you’re going to have to work it. Pursuit Dating is fun and all, but it’s not the best short-term strategy.

First, let’s talk about why you (and many others like you) are Pursuit Daters. You mentioned that going on a date with someone new is exciting and stressful to you. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but acute stress (feeling excitement and anxiety) causes the body to release CatecholaminesThe term might not be familiar to you, but that’s okay, because can google stuff and look smart. Here, I’ll just quote the NY Times on Stress and Anxiety:

“The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system also releases certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) called catecholamines , particularly those known as dopamine , norepinephrine , and epinephrine(also called adrenaline). Catecholamines activate an area inside the brain called the amygdala, which appears to trigger an emotional response to a stressful event.”

Dopamine might be a familiar term to you, and that’s because dopamine is most often associated with excitement and pleasure. You might have heard someone say “Being in love is like being on drugs” and according to several scientists the same brain chemicals,  and the same brain pathways and structures are active when in love, and when being high on crack cocaine. To put it simply, your issue is that you’re addicted to the chemical response that comes from the anxiety of first dates.

Like most addictions, it can be overcome, but you have to understand why you do what you do before you try to overcome it. The anxiety and stress of a first dates gives you a high, and once the anxiety dies down, you look for your next high. The fact that you lose interest, especially after good dates, is because a good date and good connection doesn’t necessarily release the same amount of dopamine as the stress of a first date. Now that we know why you seek out first dates (instead of second dates) , now we’ll have to figure out what you can do to try to overcome your issue. Before we move on I just want to say, I could be 100% incorrect. I’m armchair scientist-ing here and you could have a more serious mental health issue around commitment or intimacy  that you might want to see a therapist about. I encourage you to seek a second opinion or a qualified FIRST opinion from an actual professional, I’m just guessing here. Remember, I’m not a professional so it’s entirely possible I’m not right and it’s also possible that you have a bigger issue than “My brain is giving me dopamine but it’s sabotaging my desire for a second date“. I just look good in a suit and speak with authority but that does not make me an expert on the human brain, so once again, I recommend getting a professional opinion.  If we assume I’m right, let’s think of ways to trick your brain into not discouraging you from going on a second date if you click with someone.

The first thing I would recommend that you do is force yourself to go on those second dates, even if you’re not feeling all that excited about them. Right now, your body is used to the chemical response that comes from the stress of a first date, so the goal here is to try to trigger the chemical response that comes from falling in love. Dopamine get’s released when you start to full into compassionate love, but it takes a little more work than putting yourself into a stressful situation, like planning a first date. If you really want to work on getting over this issue you have, you have to work at it. I hate to tell you to chase a high, but instead of chasing the smaller high of the stress of a first date, you should try to go after the bigger high of passionate love. After that, you should try to chase the release of the “cuddle hormone” or “trust hormone“, Oxytocin. Here’s a little except on oxytocin from Wikipedia, the emphasis is mine:

“It plays a role in intimacy, sexual reproduction of both sexes, and during and after childbirth. It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor and with stimulation of the nipples following childbirth. This helps with birth, maternal bonding, and lactation. Studies have looked at oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors.

When you think of the bond between a mother and their child, how powerful is that bond in your mind? How amazing do you imagine it feels to be bonded to someone on that level? Now imagine that you went on a first date with someone, after that initial rush of dopamine you continue dating them until you eventually get the same dopamine rush you got on random first dates, then slowly your body starts releasing more and more oxytocin, which doesn’t have the same “high” as dopamine, but is still an incredibly powerful feeling. Yes, it will take a long time, but instead of chasing the short-term rush, go for the long-term “cuddle hormone” release you’ll get from being with someone longer than one date.

Good Luck Out There.

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