What Can You Learn From Feeding Your Dog That Translates Into Having A Great Sex Life?


Graphic by Margarita Korol

Written by Dr. Philip Belove. Dr. Belove, is an author, public speaker, workshop leader and psychologist. Philip received his M.A. from the Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago, and his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Philip’s fascination is with how relationships work. He has taught swing, tango and communication and is a consulting psychologist with GBLA, a management consulting firm. For more writing by Dr. Belove, see Our Response to the Jewrotica.org Contest about “Hot” Rabbi Couples

Foreplay begins with longing, a mental state. Before the first touch, even before eye contact, there is longing.

This is not a new idea. The Song of Songs is maybe 2500 years old, and when you read it, you sense that the lovers really get off on thinking about “next time.”

Eroticism is very much about longing.

For example, there’s the story of Rabbi Shefa Gold and Rachmiel O’Regan, one of the couples in our book, Rabbis In Love. (See Rabbis In Love.com).

Rabbi Shefa wrote “In the Fever of Love,” her translation of the Song of Songs, after they got together. That probably says something about how their relationship unfolded. In their interview they talk about how, when they first met, Shefa was so busy she couldn’t schedule a second meeting for three months, but when they ran into each other by accident only a month or so later they hugged with such intensity that their companions said, “Who was that!?”

“It was like being in the Star Trek beam,” said Rachmiel. Their unconscious minds were already in the longing. One of the themes of their story is “Do not awaken love until it is ripe.”

The ancient text says that the longing is part of the fun. Contemporary neuroscience agrees. When ancient wisdom literature and modern science come to the same conclusions, there is a good chance that they are both onto something. What they are on to has something to do with cocaine.

Do I have your attention?

According to an article in Scientific American, cocaine (and, while we’re at it, amphetamine) targets a section of your brain called the striatum and causes it to release dopamine. Dopamine is what makes you feel charged with happiness and a little, or extremely, giddy. Dopamine produces the pleasure of anticipation. Dopamine makes you go, “Wow. Oh Boy, oh boy,” and lick your chops.

The pleasure of confidently expecting something is usually greater than the pleasure of finally getting it. It’s been proven. Robert Sapolsky talked about this. (The graduation speech he gave at Stanford in 2009 is on YouTube.) Some monkeys performed a task in a lab and were rewarded when they did it right. Brain implants monitored their dopamine levels. The peak in dopamine level was between when the task was completed and before the reward.

You can see this yourself when you feed your dog. When you open the can of food the dog wiggles and smiles. That’s the dopamine charge. Once the food is down on the ground in front of him, the levels of dopamine drop, he quiets down and eats.

Another Rabbinical couple in the book, Leibish and Deena Hundert practice Niddah. No touching for two weeks surrounding the woman’s menstruation time. When they finally do get together, as Deena put it, “It’s like the wedding night times a hundred.”

Dopamine fine-tunes your sensibilities. It helps you enjoy and notice all the very interesting and satisfying things that can happen along the way to…well, we could say, “your goal,” but instead lets say, “the end of that particular sequence.” Physical foreplay is very lovely just in and of itself. So is mental foreplay. The more you savor every little step, the more you encourage dopamine production. It’s lovely when these cycles go round and round.

There is another aspect to this sexual expectation. You’re motivated to maximize your pleasure and to do this you sort through the relationship. You do a bit of house cleaning. Rabbi Leibish said is the emotional equivalent of the ritual cleansing bath. By the time the big night arrives, there has been a lot of dialogue. A lot of the reconciliation, which could have be distracting in bed, has been settled. (As you know, sometimes make-up sex is the best!)

There is a peace with what is about to happen, a foundation of acceptance. You say to yourself, “Okay, enough of that inner work for now. Let’s take a Sabbath and enjoy this time.” This deal that you make with yourself makes it possible to accept and savor so much more of what happens once the physical foreplay starts.

In Rabbis in Love we heard how several of the Rabbi couples worked with this dynamic rather deliberately. They made it a point to sanctify certain times for lovemaking. Looking forward to lovemaking becomes another reason for looking forward to the coming Sabbath. One couple spoke about their quiet approach to these moments, of how they would be sitting in bed after the house was quiet, talking and talking before finally making love.

And finally, let me quote another one of my favorite wisdom texts.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
~A.A. Milne

Dr. Belove is an author, public speaker, workshop leader and psychologist. Dr. Belove received an M.A. from Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago, and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His fascination is with how relationships work.