TED Conversations

Zman Kietilipooskie

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Intimate contact is a social hack of a process developed through evolution.

Warning, this might ruin the mystery of intimacy!!

While thinking about Sexual Orientation I began to think about sexual acts, this brought me to signs of affection, such as kissing and hugging and other intimate acts. Any intimate act, such as hugging or kissing and obviously sex, are desired by a person because of the chemical reactions that occur in the brain as a result of the action. Some chemicals produced by kissing are:

Oxytocin, which is involved in feelings of attachment and affection between people.
Dopamine, which helps the brain process pleasure, pain and emotions.
Serotonin, which plays a big role in determining a person's mood.
Adrenaline, which is what gives you a rush when you kiss. It increases your heart rate and feeds your "fight-or-flight" response.
("Emotions," 2011)

Hugging also produces some similar effects.



In general the brain reacts this way to intimate contact.

So basically, in my opinion every time you want to hug or kiss another person (besides your significant other, or sometimes others) it is a evolutionary "hack" created by society that is based on sexual reactions in the brain. Being that originally the only goal of the brain was to reproduce. The sensation one gets from intimate contact is a good feeling designed to incourage you to do it again and to eventually mate with the person. This implies that this chemical reaction is very primitive, and can be applied to kissing anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Even if you are not even attracted to the person sexually, you still get this feeling. I also beleive that maybe the sensation you get from kissing is a result from the evolutionary incouragement for babies to drink thier mothers milk, in other words the baby doesn't understand why it needs sustenance only that it gets a good feeling when drinking it's mothers milk, and this chemical reaction is never removed from the person.



Emotions. (2011). Retrieved from http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/body-react-to

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    Mar 3 2014: .
    Yes.
    Intimate contact is a product of evolution for keeping our DNA alive.
    It is a kind of indispensable symbiotic process for keeping our DNA alive.

    The chemicals are data packages for our body information processing.
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    Feb 23 2014: I kiss the head of my son when he sleeps occasionally. Am I gay, and incestuous? Should I stop doing it?
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      Feb 23 2014: I said "So basically, in my opinion every time you want to hug or kiss another person (besides your significant other, or sometimes others) it is an evolutionary "hack" created by society that is based on sexual reactions in the brain" What I mean by this is that culture's develop perspectives on what intimacy is (I believe that originally people mistook the euphoric sexual reaction for intimacy of a different nature), in your case you are attempting to show intimacy in the way your cultures suggest you should (by kissing your son), but really as I said and as the evidence suggests this is not platonic intimacy. Platonic intimacy is not sexual and because according to the article contact in general is sexual you should save almost all physical contact for those who you desire to have a sexual relationship with. I believe that you are technically committing a gay act and also an incestuous act, but this is only because you were truly unaware of the biological implications of your actions.

      Honestly for me personally after learning this I wouldn’t kiss my son because it is a distorted view of intimacy, I would teach my son that true platonic intimacy doesn’t require physical contact, and that he should save the physical aspect for people he desires to have a sexual relationship with. But in the end it is up to you whether you want to follow culture or science.
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        Feb 27 2014: Dear Zman,

        I seriously considered your opinion: “I believe that you are technically committing a gay act and also an incestuous act, but this is only because you were truly unaware of the biological implications of your actions. I also did a little research myself including reading your referred link.”

        It appears to me that there is scant little scientific evidence in favor of your opinion. Interestingly all scholarly texts that I read about brain chemistry related to emotions talk about the preponderance of a specific chemical when a particular emotion is felt. Nowhere it is clearly stated that one chemical perpetuates a particular emotion. Moreover, a range of different emotions are related to a particular chemical – there appears to be no clear one to one correspondence between a chemical and a particular emotion. Oxytocin, the ‘bonding hormone’ is found responsible for orgasm but also for pair bonding, social recognition and anxiety. There is an equal possibility, IMHO, that I am subconsciously emoting the mammalian satisfaction of successful sexual event while I am kissing the head of my sleeping son. :)

        I discussed this with my son and we had a great time researching together! I shall prefer to teach him nothing other than keeping his antennae up and receive every signal, not anything particular.

        I hope you know that male and female brains are very different functionally (so much that many avoid the scientific findings for fear of being called ‘sexist’). This difference results in handling sexual cues fundamentally differently by men and women. A desire to have a sexual relationship may mean entirely differently by a man from that of a woman. Your opinion possibly does not take that difference into account.
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          Feb 27 2014: I am glad that you are open-minded. I can see that you mind is somewhat made up but I want you consider some specifications on my post, being that the only reason I didn't go into the things you talked is because of the limited length.
          Basically what I was trying to say was that the brain has a "shotgun blast" of chemicals that have biological goals, these goals have nothing to do with encouraging physical contact, but to encourage cohesion (between mates) and also to stay in groups. This is why I chose to make it an idea instead of a debate. This is just an idea on the implications and the effects of the chemicals in the brain. Many animals do have physical contact which is, in my opinion, a manifestation of the good feeling they get when they touch each other, not "for pair bonding, social recognition and anxiety" but a chemical that, by coincidence, encourages such behavior. I drew a line between social recognition and pair bonding with another person on this post previously, but anxiety is a bit different, in my opinion the anxiety factor is a learned behavior of relatively complex brains that encourages the support of parts in the group and the maximization of cohesion in the group (psychologically), the chemical reaction you get from a simple hug is quite surprising. The chemical could easily distract or in some ways and situations sooth the person.
          I am so glad you had this conversation with your son; the purpose of my post was to simply provide a new biological perspective on social behavior.
          And as for the male and female brain, I also was thinking of this but didn’t have the space. I believe that there is a "male" characteristic that encourages the pursuit of females. Basically the "shotguns blast" for males is somewhat stronger then that of the females. And females get an "encouraging" reaction, they are generally just less significant so as to encourage the selection of the optimum mate.
          Running out of space so psychological aspect next time
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    Feb 22 2014: let's say you're right, what then should we take away from your conversation? Would it change our behavior at all?
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      Feb 22 2014: Well, if anything it will do two things:
      1) It will show that we are sexual creatures, and we must redefine our definition of intimacy, though it contradicts many cultural definitions of intimacy.
      2) It will remind us of how culture is not always right, in fact most cultures only offer simplistic and limited perspectives on reality.
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        Feb 22 2014: well, it might change how we feel toward sex, but would it change anything we do, in sex or in life?
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          Feb 22 2014: Well personally the definition of intimacy must change, for example people kissing each other is actually a sexual act regardless of the person your kissing, so that means that people kissing others that they are not interested in sexually is still a sexual act. This is because of our ignorance of the true meaning of a kiss or even a hug; many cultures mistook the feeling of sexual euphoria as a feeling of intimacy. I guess what the meaning behind the post is that almost any contact with another person is sexual. So this scientific discovery suggests a shift in the societal definition of relationships. Being that almost any physical contact with another person is actually sexual any actual platonic relationship shouldn't involve physical contact, this is because the result of contact is not a manifestation of intimacy it is a manifestation of a primitive sexual desire that arose (In my opinion) from an evolutionary goal to get potential mates close together and reproduce. However regarding sex the only difference is that a true sexual relationship involves sexual contact, the benefit of following these suggestions is that physical intimacy is not marginalized by constant physical contact with others. But in the end people constantly ignore science and choose forms of culture over it, so I guess it depends on the person when determining how this affects the person’s life.
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        Feb 23 2014: sorry, what does that mean, "physical intimacy is not marginalized by constant physical contact with others"?
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          Feb 23 2014: Well physical contact makes the brain produce those chemicals so really if you’re constantly touching others then you’re getting used to the effects of the chemicals, so the effects of the chemicals are marginalized compared to if you choose to follow the suggestions of this discovery, which is that you should generally only physically interact with someone you want to have sex with.
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        Feb 23 2014: oh, I'm sorry, Zman, I was confused by your use of the word intimate in the conversation headline. I think intimate usually does mean directly, overtly sexual.

        Wow, I don't know, I'll really have to think about that. I've always been told it's good to show physical affection. So if you don't have a sexual partner, you should never touch anyone, like your family members?
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          Feb 23 2014: I think your just looking at this through the “box” your culture developed that intimacy requires physical contact. In my opinion mental and emotional contact should be for all actual relationships and then after you have a successful platonic relationship then you should consider having a sexual or physical relationship. So really in the instance of hugging or kissing your family members it is just a cultural perspective on intimacy, which can now be redefined through this discovery.
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        Feb 24 2014: well, how successful a platonic relationship are you talking about, Zman? Because if you take someone out on a date, even if you have sex on the first date, you will talk first before you go to bed?

        Nowadays, with birth control, people can have sex on the first date? But it still seems risky because you could get sexually transmitted disease?
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          Feb 24 2014: A relationship is a state of being connected, it takes far longer then a couple dates to establish a connection because essentially you must know the person, which can not be achieved in a small amount of time.
          I believe that everyone should be searching for their "soul mate", or a person who is best for them. In order fro one to do this one must become connected to another on a platonic level, as described above, then one must introduce sexual contact after the platonic relationship is achieved.
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        Feb 24 2014: and what are your reasons for believing this way, Zman? Like I say, now we have birth control, so you can have sex without fear of pregnancy.
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          Feb 24 2014: I believe that sex with people that you do not desire to be with as a permanent companion is ultimately just delaying you from finding your "soul mate". So really if your goal is to maximize sensation by having sex as much as you want then that is your perspective on what is important, which is, in my opinion, the choosing of quantity over quality. However if your goal is to find the best person you can possibly be with then you must be as efficient as possible and in order to be efficient then you should first get to know the person and as much about them as possible before complicating the relationship with sexual contact. After all, in a sexual relationship, the pleasure you get from physical contact is just an affirmation of the mental, emotional, and physical connection. So once you have confirmed that you have the optimum mental and emotional connection then you should introduce sexual contact. This of course means that both parties must have restraint and as I said before, the desire to find the best possible mate.
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        Feb 25 2014: how do you see homosexual sex, since it cannot lead to having children?
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          Feb 25 2014: Any Sexual Orientation can still apply to the "soul mate" concept; homosexuals are just unlucky enough to not be able to produce children. Sexual intimacy acts as a physical acknowledgement of the "bond" (which to me is a combination of physical, emotional, and mental compatibility) and also the seemingly universal sexual desire. So really the production of offspring is only a primitive desire to reproduce and raise progeny as well as a result of the acknowledgement of the "bond". The desire to raise young can be satisfied by adopting or becoming a extra parental figure in other family groups.
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        Feb 26 2014: how do you think a person knows when they've found their "soulmate"?
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          Feb 26 2014: In a seemingly infinitely complex space (our earth with billions of almost unique humans) the only real way to find your soul mate is to comparatively analyze all possible mates (those you are physically compatible with) then after they pass through the first phase they should go into the mental and emotional phase in which they compare their compatibility and then compare to past mates to decide if this person is better or worse. Usually in the realm of high compatibility, in all areas of compatibility, the couple can adapt to each other in ways to maximize cohesion, at this point I believe two people are "soul mates" but true cohesion takes a long while to achieve, that is why people must not involve sexual contact until they are sure that they actually know the persons non sexual characteristics because ultimately sex just complicates things.
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        Feb 28 2014: well, generally I believe there are great reasons to avoid premarital sex, such as the fear of pregnancy, and the fear of sexually transmitted disease. Are these what you meant when you said sex just makes things complicated?

        Whether you should avoid premarital sex because it takes time away from looking for your soulmate might be true for some people, but maybe not for all? For example, some people might not have a developed enough personality to find their soulmate, and, by dating and possibly having sex, they learn more about themselves so that they can find their soulmate. And some people might want the pleasure of sex prior to finding their soulmate.

        In your original conversation, you said: "So basically, in my opinion every time you want to hug or kiss another person (besides your significant other, or sometimes others)"...... I understand the "significant other" part, but who are you referring to in the "sometimes others" part. Do you mean a person can have more than one significant other? Or do you mean other people besides your significant other?

        If you want to talk more, you can click "edit" and add more time to your conversation, didn't you originally put two weeks on it, you can add 16 days by making it a month conversation. Do you have other topics you intend to talk about on TED conversations, I believe you're a good guy and would be a good host for other conversations.
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          Feb 28 2014: No I am saying that the sexual act complicates a relationship, and if there is no sex then people can focus on the nonphysical aspects of a potential mate (which is based on the assumption that you want to find you "soul mate" and you are willing to make sacrifices to get him/her). In my opinion a person who is not comfortable with themselves is not one who should date, after all how could a person find someone they like if they don't really like or even know themselves?
          My "So basically, in my opinion every time you want to hug or kiss another person (besides your significant other, or sometimes others)" comment was directed toward the observation that some people like to date multiple people (I don't agree but I was trying to make it universal). But also in my post I said that biased on the information, it is an illusion of intimacy to kiss or hug people other than your significant other.
          And also thanks.
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        Feb 28 2014: well, I would disagree for some people, Zman, I think one way to learn about yourself for some people would be through dating. By your understanding, I guess a junior high or middle school wouldn't have a dance where kids invite each other to go to the dance? And no more high school proms?
        What do you mean, it is an "illusion" of intimacy to kiss or hug people other than your significant other?
        I don't know, I thought your conversation was about to end, but I see it has about seven days.
        Do you have any more ideas for TED conversations?
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          Feb 28 2014: I guess to sum up our differences I would say that culture has a differing view on intimacy and its meanings compared to the biological one.
          It is an illusion because platonic intimacy should not involve sexual contact, and because people get a good feeling the think it is a sign of intimacy when it is really not.
          Yes I am currently working on a projects on love, personality, and also intelligence. But these are a little more complex than this post, so it might be a little while.
          So just look for something on intelligence in a couple of days.
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        Mar 1 2014: well, is there a typical age at which you think people would find their soulmate? But are you saying, Zman, that until then they should have no physical contact with each other at all? I don't know, that seems a little hard and cold, like a hard and cold life. So, for example, kids also should not play sports like football and basketball because they have physical contact?

        And you're also saying that after you find your soulmate you should have no physical contact with anyone else, for example, two guys should never shake hands upon meeting? Well, there definitely would be something lost there, in having physical contact with a variety of people you learn something about those other people, experience their body.

        Are there doctors who have to touch people? What about a chiropractor? But you would do away with all those professions?
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          Mar 1 2014: I guess if I were to impose a law, I would suggest that people shouldn’t touch the sex they are interested in and wait until they are comfortable with themselves before they do, unnecessarily of course.
          Well I think that basic contact is acceptable and somewhat necessary, I think that somebodies profession or sport is generally something that is only temporary contact. As for the people who have a job that includes physical interaction with you, well I guess that is just something that people must live through because there is no other way for people to do their job in those fields without touching you.
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        Mar 2 2014: I don't know, Zman, this is a very hard issue for me, because I see a lot of sense in what you're saying. But I also see a lot of sense in people touching each other affectionately. But you and I both agree that sex outside of marriage is wrong, correct, although we believe it for different reasons? So as long as people didn't have sex outside of marriage (i.e. prior to meeting their soulmate), what is wrong with them touching each other? For example, I go to pick up a girl who I've asked out. I don't know if she will turn out to be my soulmate, she might or she might not. When she opens the door on my arrival I shake hands with her. But I don't intend to have premarital sex with her. Is it wrong to shake hands with her? Or perhaps after we've been on a few dates one day we are walking and we hold hands. Is this wrong? You would say it's wrong because it confuses us, we should make the decision on whether the person is our soulmate based on our conversation with them and observing how they conduct themselves? And holding hands gets us too excited and we make the decision on whether to seek marriage with this person based on that excitement rather than our experience in conversing with them? Well, there is something to that, but, on the other hand, there is a spontaneous desire to touch with affection, I think, and, like I say, it would be a hard, cold life if you never gave in to that? So I would probably say if you have a desire to touch someone affectionately, you should. But could you not do it mindfully, realizing that you shouldn't let it cloud your judgement?
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          Mar 2 2014: If your goal is to find your "soul mate" then you should try to avoid physical contact because it is just another complex factor in the relationship which causes complications. To me shaking hands is just a cultural from of respect or acknowledgement, which is just as viable as simply saying "hello, you look, it is nice to meet you” and other subtle personality traits. But I guess some basic contact is necessary. I do however believe that the holding hands thing kind of sets you up for a fall, if you hold hands you are initiating kind of step into a physical relationship, after all it is a pretty intimate act, which shows a sort of bond or connection, which can be sexual. So again if your goal is to find your soul mate then you probably should not encourage a bond if there isn't any reason, that is, if you are not sure you want to be with them for a long period of time, possibly permanently.
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        Mar 2 2014: well, there's a lot of sense in your idea, Zman. But in practice, I think it might feel kind of cold and hard to not ever hold hands with someone. At least it would for me, maybe not for you. What if you discussed the subject with the person you were seeing, you could agree to not have sex but that holding hands was okay?

        Are you Jewish? The Talmud has some ideas on this. For example, they recommend that a man never be alone in a room with any woman other than his mother or his wife. (I'm not Jewish, but I got interested by having a lot of Jewish friends.)
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          Mar 2 2014: I guess what it comes down to is your definition of intimacy versus mine. I believe that true intimacy should develop through a platonic relationship and then possibly go into a non-platonic relationship. And you believe that in order to form a non-platonic relationship you can have sexual contact before you truly know them. I guess all I am saying is that it is easier and more efficient to hold off on the sexual contact until you truly know the person. And things like holding hands seem reasonable but I think it can just encourage the relationships sexual progression. I guess that technically under my definitions holding hands can be a reasonable form of platonic intimacy but, to me, that is where I would draw the line. That is until I actually feel like I know the person.
          I think that the Talmud is interesting, in that there is wisdom in it, but like most religious texts, I believe that you should follow the reasoning behind the words not just the words themselves.
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        Mar 7 2014: Apart from the intimacy questions, Zman, you would agree that another reason not to have sex with someone if you're not sure if they're your soulmate is the fear of pregnancy and of sexually transmitted diseases? Technically, if I make that my reason not to become intimate before I'm sure someone is my soulmate, you would be just as happy as if I refrained from intimacy for your reasons, right, because the effect is the same, in both cases you're refraining from sex but for different reasons. But your reasons are good, sex is a pretty small part of a relationship, you're more interested in discovering the character of the person you're dating. But then again, are you sure people couldn't separate the two, in other words, while they're dating the person to see if they are their soulmate, they could have sex with them but understand that their main job is to discover the person's character. I think a lot of people could keep the two separate, don't you?
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          Mar 7 2014: I really think that no matter who it is, sex can complicate the relationship on some level. And also sexes only true value is as a sign of ether a physical connection and/or a mental/emotional connection. And people may change an opinion negatively if they choose to stay with a person purely because of sex.
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        Mar 7 2014: I mean technically for some people, Zman, sex is just their form of recreation, if they weren't having sex, they would just be watching TV or listening to music, so it's not as if sex takes more of their time. Therefore, as long as they realize that they shouldn't make a decision about the other person just based on how good the sex is, what's the difference, why not have sex if the only problem is the one you're talking about, because for a lot of people it wouldn't be a problem, would it, they can separate the sex from the other aspects of the relationship.
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          Mar 7 2014: My view is based on the opinion that quality is better then quantity. If you are constantly having sex then you are just marginalizing the value of the physical contact. So really, in order to get the maximum out of sex you should limit the purely recreational sex in order to make it more special and less bland. Also if you have good sex with someone that will just distort you view of how you and the person can function in the long run.