February 25, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller
Imagine there was a drug you could take to enhance your relationship or deepen your connection with your partner. Or a drug that could get rid of romantic jealousy. Or a drug that could help you move on faster after a traumatic breakup. This isn’t science fiction—these drugs are out there, and they just might be the future of falling in and out of love.
For this episode of the Sex and Psychology Podcast, I interviewed Brian Earp, who is the Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy at Yale University and The Hastings Center. He is also a Research Fellow in the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford and author of the incredible book Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships.
We had an absolutely fascinating discussion about love drugs (chemicals that enhance bonds between partners) and anti-love drugs (chemicals that break bonds), and all of the ethical and other implications of using medications to regulate our relationships and breakups. Questions we answer include:
- What is love? And what is the biochemical basis for it?
- How can MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) help struggling partners? Could it (and should it) play a role in couple’s therapy?
- What does jealousy have in common with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? And can common OCD treatments help people to get rid of pathological jealousy in relationships?
- How do you maintain your authentic self if you’re using drugs to facilitate connections with a partner? Should you change yourself to fit your relationship, or change your relationship to fit you?
- How can drugs help us to get over bad breakups? What are the implications of numbing ourselves to relationship trauma?
- Can drugs help people who are in love with an abusive partner to break the bond and exit a toxic situation?
- Should drugs be used to regulate “deviant” sexual desires and “hypersexual” behavior? Is this helpful or harmful?
- Will drugs be used to impose a certain sexual or relationship morality on people? What are the ethical implications of all of this?
To learn more about Brian and his work, follow him on Twitter and be sure to pick up a copy of his new book, Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships.
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Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos and book covers used with guest permission.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.