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Sex & Relationships

Love and sex


Many people get mixed up between the concepts of love and sex.

One of the big problems that troubles human relationships is this: many young women – and young men – get very muddled up between love and sex.
You can see examples of this confusion all over the place. For example, people use the expression 'making love' as a polite euphemism for 'having sexual intercourse'.
This is crazy. When a male celebrity has a two-minute encounter with a prostitute and the newspapers report that he 'made love' to her, it's clearly not correct to bring the word 'love' into it.
Incidentally, half a century ago that expression 'making love' often just meant 'flirting'.

So, if you look at the text of playwright Terence Rattigan's famous hit: 'Separate tables', you'll find what an elderly lady says about a couple, who are merely chatting amorously to each other in a hotel lounge: 'I'm sure they were making love'.

Another source of confusion is the fact that there are many books and magazines that use the word 'love', when they really mean 'sex'.
I'm afraid that this even applies to some of my own books, published in the last part of the 20th century – for example: 'The book of love'.
It should really have been called 'The book of sex'. But my recollection is that the publishers felt that at that time, few book-buyers would have the nerve to ask for such a daring title! Therefore, they called it 'The book of love' instead.

So, it's really no wonder that people – particularly the young – get mixed up between the concepts of love and sex.
Females aged about 15 to 23 are especially likely to think that if a guy wants to have sex with them, 'he must love me'.
The purpose of this article is to try and clarify things a bit.

What is 'love'?
If you check any dictionary, you'll find that of course the word 'love' doesn't mean 'sex' at all.
Broadly speaking, the phrase 'to love' means to like someone (or something) intensely. The meaning is similar to that of the expression 'to adore'.
Dictionaries and encyclopedias make clear that our present-day notion of love comes from various ancient Greek ideas.
These days, we can legitimately use the word 'love' to cover several different things.

  1. The powerful emotion of romantic love that so many couples (heterosexual and same-sex) feel for each other.
  2. The strong love that members of a family often have for one another, eg in the case of parents and children.
  3. The love that some great friends feel for each other.
  4. Perhaps the strong love that many people have for things like music or art.

In contrast, it doesn't really seem appropriate use the word 'love' in the casual way that so many people do, in order to indicate mild approval or interest for something – as in 'I'd love a bit more pudding'.

Sex is a totally different matter.
Sex is of course the powerful biological urge that makes people want to have intercourse, or some other form of sexual contact, with others.
In many ways, the word 'sex' more or less equates to 'love' or 'desire'.
Sex is the force that has kept the human race going, since it has made us populate the planet.
It's to a large extent dependent on hormones, particularly testosterone. And in general, it tends to be more powerful in males than in females – though not always so.
This is why so many men get themselves into big trouble over sex, while relatively few women do.

How sex tends to accompany love
Another thing that 'muddies the waters' between love and sex is this.
Most people who fall in love with each other find that they desperately want to have sex together.
That's not an invariable rule, but there are few loving couples who don't feel the strong urge to go to bed together and enjoy sexual intercourse.
Very often, what happens at the same time is that they start to feel that they no longer wish to have sex with anybody else.
So, those who experience the phenomenon of 'true love' are likely to say that they intend to be faithful to their beloved for life. And in many cases, they really do manage to do this.

Sex as a 'love-promoting' factor
One other phenomenon to watch out for is this. People who have sex with each other a few times, and who find that it's gone really well, often tend to discover that they are starting to fall in love with each other.
So again and again, I have seen couples who thought that they were having a 'purely sexual' relationship, and then found that they were in love.
I had one male patient who kept telling me that his latest relationship (and there were many) was not emotional, but 'just sexual'. Yet again and again, within a few weeks he found himself hopelessly in love with his newest girlfriend.
This made his life pretty chaotic, over a period of many years – until he eventually learned a little sense in middle age.

Young women and sex
Finally, even in 2010, it's the case that many young women are virtually unable to draw any distinction between love and sex.
So, when a man wants to have sexual intercourse with them, they immediately assume that this means love.
That's why I've often heard confused younger females say things like: 'He must love me really, because otherwise he wouldn't keep coming back and having sex with me.'
This is a total misunderstanding of the male psyche!
Women should always bear in mind that a highly-sexed young man will cheerfully have sex with virtually any female he meets – provided that he doesn't find her unattractive. He doesn't even have to like her! One man said to me: 'Can't stand that ghastly woman. I hate everything about her views and her politics. But naturally, I'm delighted to give her one.'
Many younger males will happily have intercourse with someone who they've only just met or who merely happened to be lying on a bed and available – say, at a party.
So if you're a young female, please try and bear all this in mind. When a boy wants to have intercourse with you – this doesn't mean that he loves you. It may mean that he wants to have sex, and you happen to be a female who's around.
If there were somebody else there instead, he'd probably be just as happy having sex with her.
Failure to realise this simple biological fact is the cause of much misery in relationships. You have been warned!