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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – A pamphlet was given to service members during the “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerkette” workshop hosted by Marine Corps Community Services aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb 14. The workshop offers lessons on analyzing potential partners and guidelines to help find a compatible partner. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pvt. Nik S. Phongsisattanak)

Photo by Pvt. Nik Phongsisattanak

No jerks allowed

24 Feb 2011 | Pvt. Nik S. Phongsisattanak

Is love truly blind? How do people find themselves in relationships that started with what felt like the love of their lives, but now feel stuck with regret?

Premarital relationships that might have been entirely based on aspects such as physical appearance or sex may be the same reasons why partners split.

Service members attended the “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerkette” workshop hosted by Marine Corps Community Services aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for lessons on picking the right partner or spouse, Feb 14.

Scientists have found evidence to support the saying that love is blind. Researchers at the University College London found through brain-imaging studies that “feelings of love lead to a suppression of activity in the areas of the brain controlling analytical thinking. Romantic love suppresses neural activity associated with one’s ability to be a good judge of a partner,” according to an article from NeuroImage, British Broadcasting Company News Report.

Science proves that love is blind, and that’s why people sometimes fall for a jerk or jerkette, so MCCS offers a workshop to help people learn to see with eyes wide open. 

The class covers such things as the warning signs of difficult partners and how family and religion come into play. The foundation of the workshop is based off a book written by Dr. John Van Epp, and the idea behind finding a compatible partner is following the steps and rules that Van Epp teaches.

“Having a little bit of structure makes it possible for people to make good choices,” said Dave Wilder, a public health educator with the Health Promotion Branch, MCCS. “We sometimes think that if there’s structure, it’s limiting to us, but (instead) it may be empowering.”

The structure Wilder refers to is called the Relationship Attachment Model, which uses a scale to measure relationship attachment in five areas that include how well a person knows, trusts, relies, commits and touches their partner.

The workshop covers ways to test and measure where a potential romantic partner stands on the R.A.M. scale.

The key part to making Van Epp’s solution to finding the right lover is getting to know the person first, followed by the rest of the aspects that bond a relationship, and most importantly leaving physical touch for last.

“There is a logical order to these bonding elements of relationship building, and following the logical order helps us remain in the ‘safe zone’ as we develop relationships,” said Wilder.

Many people say they never kiss on a first date, and they might be on to something. For those who indulge in the pleasures of one night stands, bonding with a partner may be more difficult.

Biologists have isolated a chemical that is highly related to emotional bonds people form. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide (also known as the “love hormone”) has been found to act as a human “superglue.”  Oxytocin is released in a mother’s brain while giving birth, helping them bond with their infants.

Biologist have also found that oxytocin is increased during the act of sex in men and women, but more so with women. Studies have shown that oxytocin levels increased by three times in males during sex and nine times the amount or more in females.

A study conducted by Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, showed results of pockets in the brain with a high concentration of receptors for dopamine, the chemical messenger closely tied to states of euphoria were activated.

However, another study found that the production of oxytocin is reduced by unstable relationships, and people with multiple sexual partners also had a reduction in oxytocin. In concluding, having multiple partners would result in a lowered biological bonding ability.

People who have multiple sexual partners become bonded to multiple persons, and the ability to maintain a strong bond with an individual becomes difficult. The saying “once a cheater always a cheater” seems to be scientifically proven in this case.

The scientific portion of the workshop seemed to be the most interesting part for the participants.

“I did not know that we actually had chemical productions going on that create an emotional and physical bond,” said Lance Cpl. Alex Rodriguez, an engineer equipment mechanic with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “I had no idea that there was that much neural science involved with love.”

The workshop covered many different elements that help glue couples together, and sometimes the glue sticks even though they are not content with their relationship. 

“This knowledge could be useful to anybody that is interested in finding a partner,” said Rodriguez. “I can help them pick out a partner that is right for them, not only because of sexual satisfaction but things such as personality compatibility.”

MCCS has many programs that they offer to help educate, prepare and improve the lives of service members and families. The people working for MCCS often express their kindness by telling participants that they do care.

“You really can give away your heart without losing your mind, but you need to be aware of what you’re doing, pay attention to it and there’s a formula that helps us do that,” said Wilder. “We offer this class because it’s potentially powerful for the young Marines. Part of what we’re trying to help people to accomplish is healthy relationships, because healthy relationships lead to healthy people.”

The “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerkette” workshop is held at Building 302 Holcomb Blvd. The next workshop is scheduled for April 8, June 29, Aug. 31, Oct. 21 and Dec. 21. For more information on the workshop, call 451-2865.