The usual scenario for guys connecting up is eye contact across a crowded room, or in a sauna or a street and so on. A quick glance up and down and phoarr I want more of that (sometimes the eyes don’t get past a certain bulge!).

What we see is usually the first thing that attracts us to a potential mate. Granted there are occasions when there is no immediate physical attraction and the embryo relationship starts with the enjoyment of the person’s company and conversation. But these are few and far between so will not be considered for this article.

You move to pounce. The old chat-up lines seem to work and you get on great. In the end, whether it takes that night (or in a sauna those 5 minutes) or a week, you end up in bed. Sometimes the sex is fine sometimes it’s great. But what has really happened is your cauldron of hormones has started bubbling and you begin to be drawn in to forming a relationship with this ‘god’. Hopefully, he feels the same too.

Gay relationships are really not much different from straight ones. Physical attraction brings two people together. Perhaps the bedding stage may be slower with heterosexuals. Women tend to want to get to know the guy but the end result is the same. Some relationship scientists believe there are three stages in relationship development – lust, attraction and attachment. All stages involve hormones.

The first stage – the ‘I’ve got to have him’ stage is driven mainly by testosterone. As the attraction develops and we become attracted to each other, the second stage, testosterone continues to drive things along but the hormones dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline become important. This is the period when we feel we’re ‘in love’. It’s the romantic period when the other person is in our minds most of the time. We just know they are the one.

Dopamine focuses on the neurotransmitters and is not very different to some addictive drugs such as heroin because of the feel-good high it gives, the extra energy and a reduced need for sleep. Adrenaline increases heart beat which is why we feel more excited when we see or think of our loved one. And the increase in serotonin makes us feel a bit mad and contributes to our feelings of well-being and happiness.

The third stage, attachment, sees another two hormones surface – oxytocin and vasopressin. This stage is vital if the relationship is to survive. But because of the addictive nature of the second stage, especially the production of dopamine, a lot of relationships don’t get this far. There is more contentment but less excitement. There is more intimacy but less explosions.

Oxytocin is called the cuddling hormone. As human we tend to seek out touch from others. When we cuddle or just even touch the brain releases oxytocin which makes us feel calmer and helps us bond with that person. Have you ever had a bad day and found that cuddling your lover makes you forget everything? That’s oxytocin at work.

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So is sex the glue to a successful relationship? The answer is yes and no. If by relationship you mean an exciting six months of sex fuelled coupling then yes. But the effects don’t last and to have a successful, long term relationship you need to move into the attachment stage. However, because of the availability of fresh partners and the stimulating stage of first meets a lot of relationship, gay and straight, don’t last long.

It takes work to move to the next stage and both partners need to want the slightly less exciting, but usually more fulfilling, longer term relationship. After the first six months or so, despite what is generally believed, the amount of sex declines. But something else grows and it is shared interests, mutual respect and trust, the quiet physical intimacy and emotional support that makes this next stage of a relationship so satisfying. This is the glue to long-term relationships.

This article was taken from Issue 3 of TheGayUK

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About the author: Owen Redahan
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.