Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How closely is sexual desire associated with love for you?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 14th, 2009

I’ve been asking a series of questions about the relationship between love, sexual desire, and creativity. This question closes the loop.

Some people seem to think that sex and love are (or can be) separate things. They can “hook up” and it’s “just” a hookup. Meaning that it has little emotional significance. Other people (such as me) think that there is always a link between sex and love, and that if people think they can separate it, they are fooling themselves.

In your life, do you believe you have ever separated sex from love? If so, how do you do it? Where did this ability to separate the two come from?

In your life, have you found that you can not separate love from sex (or sex from love)? Why do you think they are inextricably linked? How strong is this link? How do you think you came to this perception of this link?

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45 Answers

jonsblond's avatar

When I was younger I was able to separate the two. I don’t know how or why I was able to do this. I’d like to say immaturity but I’m sure there are others out there that will say they are mature and able to separate the two.

Now that I have a love that I’ve never experienced before with my husband, I can’t separate the two. The more I realize how much my husband loves me, the stronger my sexual desire is for him.

hearkat's avatar

I was 9 years old when I was first molested, so objective sexuality was introduced early in my life. I have had one-night-stands, and a ‘friend with benefits’; I have also had relationships where we shared true passionate lovemaking; and everything in-between.

I believe that sex and love are mutually exclusive, but both are best when they occur in synchrony. Having experienced the intensity of combined physical and emotional intimacy, I no longer have an interest in sex without love/romance.

However, when I am single, my high libido demands some attention, which I take care of on my own. The biggest challenge for me is in the early stages of a relationship when you don’t know if love will develop, but lust takes all the attention. I feel that I have given in to the lust too easily in the past.

MacBean's avatar

I believe that sex and love are mutually exclusive, but both are best when they occur in synchrony.

I was typing my answer when @hearkat posted this and summed up what I was saying much better than how I was saying it. Thanks!

derekfnord's avatar

Sex without love is like dialup internet service. It’ll get you online, and there’s not much cost of entry, but there’s only so much you can get out of the experience.

Sex plus love is like broadband. It requires a bigger commitment to get it, but once you do, you realize how much you were missing, and you wonder how how lived without it.

And also like broadband vs. dialup, there’s no going permanently back. Sometimes you might take the lesser experience for a while if it’s all you can get where you are, but you’ll always want to get back to the greater experience…

And while you can “upgrade” from just sex to sex-plus-love with a person, you can’t really “downgrade” (at least in my opinion). Once you’ve had sex-plus-love with someone, then if something happens to the love, you can’t go back to just sex with that person… it feels too weird.

CMaz's avatar

Ok, crazy talk time.
I have been able to separate love from sex. Sex, when it can be fun and creative. People do it all the time, it being nothing more then fun creative, naughty, wet, nasty, dirty, passionate, sweaty sex. :-)
If a woman comes to my house and wants to have sex with me and basically does nothing more then lay there with her legs spread, usually due to their lack of appreciation and understanding of symbiotic exploration.
I will have a hard time getting it up.
If I can read that in her before we have sex. I wont do it. Have sent a few home, them thinking it would go further. I will not go there. It is always quality not quality.
Here is the crazy part.
I have been able to, with the right person (rare to find), inject emotional non committal love into sex. Meaning we will add all the feelings that come with love including saying “I love you”, to heighten the experience, allowing that deep passion from inside you to come out enjoying the added benefit of feelings that comes with two people that are making love instead of it just being about having a sexual experience.

rangerr's avatar

I can’t separate love from sex. My mind won’t let me do it. I don’t, haven’t and won’t hook up just for the hell of it.
The biggest issue for me is trust. I have to trust someone before I can get intimate.
I’ve only been with one person in that manner, so maybe I am missing out on something.
But frankly, I don’t mind. I’m completely in love with my relationship, and I’ve never been more dedicated to anything in my life.
I think the link between the two is incredibly strong, and I’m not sure if it will ever be broken.
If this relationship fails, as much as people will call me crazy, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to have sex for a while. It’s such an intimate thing, even when we are pinning eachother against walls and ripping off clothes.
Its as close as two people can be, and it’s a beautiful thing.

SuperMouse's avatar

I had sex without true love for twenty years. It was all about fear of making a change and the comfort of sticking what I had always known. During those years sex was more of a chore then anything else, I never desired it and was thankful for his incredibly low libido. Now that I have found true, real, passionate love, I have also found incredible lust. It turns out that I am a sexual being, but until I felt true love that part of me was fast asleep.

DarkScribe's avatar

I spent many years dating numerous women – all with sexual involvement and although they were friends who I cared about, I was not in love with them. But we had a lot very enjoyable sex. Once I met my wife, the sex became truly “lovemaking” and hasn’t changed. I have no sexual interest in other women, though I can still appreciate sexual appeal in other women. I photograph many of them in refined but semi-erotic poses. Classic glamour shots. Many seek me out for a photo-shoot on recommendation from previous models. Although I admire many of them – I don’t desire them. Perhaps if I didn’t have such a sexy and attractive wife I might have a different attitude.

ruk_d's avatar

I can easily seperate the two because I had numerous sexual adventures with friends and only one serious relationship. I never planned on being their women but just wanted to fill the night with company. I used sex as a tool to get what i wanted which was company and to fill an empty void. I also liked to use my looks to attract men just for the sheer enjoyment of knowing they want something that they could never have. That was me. I was cold and intangible because I was hurt at the whole male gender. I was taught at a young age that all men wanted was sex so i used sex to tease them. So the majority of the time i walked around like i was the shit, which made men turn the head, and then when i would be approached i would shut them down quickly. Well, at the moment I am in a relationship and i can’t use that technique because this person had self control and saw my game. He made me wait. We went four months in our relationship without sex and now have just started to engage in that activity. I have to say that it was worth the wait because the sex we have is not like any other i have felt. It feels like more than what i have experienced. Like everything else is nothing and this is something between two equals. Its different.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I have had sex without love, but I have never had a stronger sexual desire than I do for the person I love.

poofandmook's avatar

I have had sex without love, but didn’t really enjoy it. I used to think that love and sex aren’t mutual, and maybe for a lot of people, it isn’t. It isn’t for me either, morally speaking. But speaking just in terms of my sexual desire? Yeah I have no interest in sex if I’m not in love. Which is why the two relationships I had prior to the current one were dead sexually, and this one.. it’s hard to keep our hands off each other.

Facade's avatar

I can be sexually attracted to someone without loving them, and if I love someone, I’m also sexually attracted to him.

dpworkin's avatar

At this time in my life, inextricably. At other times in my life the two had nothing to do with one another. In the late 60s and early 70s I fucked whatever moved. In retrospect, I missed a great deal.

Justnice's avatar

I believe that sex and love can be separated. As you read in my last question, I have a boyfriend but I’m sexually attracted to someone else. I feel bad about it but only because I feel bad for my boyfriend’s feelings. I can’t say that I actually feel bad for what I’m feeling because, of course, I can’t help what I feel. So this is the case: I’m in love with my boyfriend. And I want to have sex with this other man that I don’t love at all. So the way I see it, there must be a separation from love and sex. Although I do agree that it’s better when they come together but we can all admit that they don’t always come together. This is why I always say that emotional cheating is worse than physical cheating because at the end of the day, sex is just sex

DominicX's avatar

Not everyone I find myself sexually attracted to I love. I believe that it can be separated. People can have sex without any kind of love going on and people can love without any kind of sex going on. Some people simply have meaningless sex and its purpose is sexual gratification and not love and attachment. It’s not what I would want, but I’m sure that people do. On the other side, there are just different types of love that don’t involve a sexual attraction. However, I will say that I have only really loved (romantically loved) one person and yes, I am sexually attracted to him, so I don’t have a whole lot of experience to draw upon.

forestGeek's avatar

When I was younger, I could definitely separate the two, but now they go hand-in-hand and I’m not interested in sex unless I feel a deep connection and attraction to someone. Of course I could also be in love with with a partner and have a great relationship without having sex, but when I’m in love I desire to be as close and deeply intimate with my partner as possible, and sex does just that and so very much more.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m definitely not able to separate sex and love, which is why I lost my virginity at 20. I made a mistake, once. But it made me very uncomfortable and it’s not something that I ever want to try again. It’s just not me.

rooeytoo's avatar

My body can respond sexually to all sorts of stimuli that does not involve love.

But sex is better if there is love involved.

So no, they are not always related.

Garebo's avatar

Man, you ask hard questions. I think whatever the answer is it won’t satisfy you. Is it love, or is it feelings, is it desire or self actualization. I think most people react to their emotional state, and people have several personas they identify with at any point in time. So, it might be love, then desire, then desire and love, then both, then hate because their is no desire and just love.
And to a lot of people it is just like going to McDonalds and ” their lov’in it”

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

As much as I’ve tried to separate them, I can’t. That’s how I’m wired, sex and love must go together otherwise I’ll be a miserable wreck. I’ve spent years abstinent with partners because I could not reconcile my feelings.

YARNLADY's avatar

Not at all. I have worked with people who are incapable of sexual deisre, yet are very much in love.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

My personal opinion is that libido is a result of love. That is the way it works for me; if I see a smoking hot girl down the street these days, my thoughts don’t turn that way because I do not love them. When I am with my SO though, its a totally different story….

wildpotato's avatar

@Capt_Bloth Back at you, my love.

DarkScribe's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh _if I see a smoking hot girl down the street these days, my thoughts don’t turn that way because I do not love them. _

If your thoughts don’t “turn” that way – you would not be capable of recognising a “Smoking hot girl.” Smoking hot means sexy – if you don’t find her sexy, how can you know that she is smokin’?

I have a very sexy wife, I don’t stray, but I still find many other women sexy – I just don’t do anything about it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@DarkScribe I find them sexy as a distant assessment of their appearance. Thanks to my profession, I subconsciously assess people’s superficial appearance without taking it any further than that. If I see someone who has obviously had breast implants, my first reaction is that early detection of breast cancer is impossible for them.
I can (and do) find other women sexy, but what I mean by my thoughts turning that way is that I do not have any desire for them despite my judgement of their appearance.

DarkScribe's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh my first reaction is that early detection of breast cancer is impossible for them.

Breast scans don’t work on woman with implants? I didn’t know that. I would have expected that as the implants are under the breast tissue that wouldn’t make a difference. Yet another reason to dislike them.

poofandmook's avatar

@DarkScribe: He probably means a self-exam. You can feel around all you like, but all you’re going to feel is a plastic bag.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@poofandmook and @DarkScribe I mean both self-exam and mammograms. Since mammograms are done routinely in the at risk population and ultrasound is not (to my knowledge), early detection is impossible. Implants make chest x-rays unreadable in that region, and it limits the amount of compression able to be applied for a mammogram as well as obscuring a substantial amount of tissue.

RedMosquitoMM's avatar

Everyone knows – or will likely find out – it’s hard to love someone you’re not extremely infatuated with as well. Intimacy is just part of the Love package.

bunnygrl's avatar

I’ve only ever been intimate with one man and I loved him before then, so for me the two are completely associated.
hugs all xx

Pandora's avatar

Somedays they are the same and somedays they have very little to do with each other.
It depends on my libido and mood at the time.

Zen_Again's avatar

As close as a Hershey’s Kiss and its wrapper.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The only relationship I’ve ever had was completely sexless for over four years. I was deeply in love, she had been horribly abused sexually and I could not bear the thought of hurting her. Eventually she initiated the sexual part of the relationship when she was ready.

gretchenpadams's avatar

isn’t it all experience. this is all just one persons comment on what they’ve had as perceived sex, perceived love, or both perceived sex and love as one. i for one have become a cynic for sex and love at age 19. does it exist when you engage in sexual relations constantly, being together constantly, for months, to find only one is in love.
i think the only way i can cry is thinking about the communion of sex with love or love with sex, which would be my preference in a dream world. ha, i just realized none of us know what we’re talking about. sex and love are these two vital mysteries, both an imperative, but both probably two of the least known activities of human interaction. and an imperative can be questioned of course, because some of us are too scarred or what have you to acknowledge one or the other, but after much experience, much sex with out love destroys a person. or anyone similar to me. please let them be out there.

borderline_blonde's avatar

Some people can and some people can’t. If people couldn’t separate sex and love, then every prostitute would be out of a job, and the vast majority of sex crimes wouldn’t occur.

Personally, I’ve never had sex with anyone that I didn’t have some amount of affection for (except for big-fat-drunken-mistake sex, but that just doesn’t count).

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Both are non-existant as far as I’m concerned.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I’ve tried to separate “sex” from “love” with a close guy friend of mine, but it was very hard. I found that even though I was thinking about having sex with him around the time, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. He was very convincing and tried to make it so that I was okay with it. (This wasn’t pressuring me, by the way. That’s important to note. I’d wanted it). He put a lot of effort into making me happy and all that. We’d talk and talk about it. Then, when we actually hung out, and we weren’t even going to have sex, I couldn’t even so much as give him a blow job. It just seemed so wrong and so out of place. I felt incredibly guilty and scared. Why would I be afraid of him? This guy, who was my friend, who I trusted, who I wanted to have sex with, who I’d been attracted to, and so on? I think the answer lies in that I knew what I was doing wasn’t right, what I was thinking of doing wasn’t right, and so on. I was also interested in another guy and I didn’t want to hurt him with my actions. The whole hangout turned out to be awkward, although I did enjoy it. We’ve talked about this day since, but it seems like he’s insistent on believing that I just over-complicate things and all that. He just doesn’t seem to understand. Anyway, we don’t really talk anymore, or at least I haven’t seen him online in maybe a month or so. It could have been less than that, but it’s very weird. It’s like he doesn’t even want to talk to me anymore. Maybe he never even liked me talking to him. Whatever. The point is, though, that “sex” and “love” are very hard for me to separate. I can try to force myself to separate them all I want, but it doesn’t seem to work. Maybe being female has something to do with it? I think that it’s possible to have sex without feeling love for the other person, though. After all, it’s been done and it will probably still be done. How people can have such meaningless sex isn’t necessarily beyond me, but it’s something that would probably be difficult for me to do at this moment in time. I’ve heard the argument that sex feels good, so why not? Here’s the answer to why not: Sex can CREATE feelings that may creep up on you when you least expect it. If you aren’t prepared for those unexpected feelings, maybe you should stop while you’re ahead…

daemonelson's avatar

For a fairly long time, sex was just a brilliant thing I did with what I suppose I could call ‘friends’. Now it just so happens to be alongside love. It’s not particularly different, still just a fantastic physical act. I suppose it could be considered somewhat better, since I’m sharing that with someone quite important to me.

flutherother's avatar

Sex isn’t nearly as good as a sexual relationship.

Joybird's avatar

I will say emphatically that if I just desired someone and had sex with them and there was nothing else to bind us that it ended right there. There was no longer any desire to be around them. Sex would have proven empty and thus not something worthy of further exploration for me.
For me desire is interwoven with love and sex. It is in fact physiologically the case for most people. Love is a generic but complex emotion. Romantic love is the addition of sexual attraction or activity. Sexual activity produces neuropeptides and neurotransmitters that bind us to each other with female being more impacted by these in the short term while males are impacted across time of having intimacy with one woman.
Love is a product of our individual phenomenological maps and favorable emotions experienced in relation to early caregivers against a variety of contexts. It’s not as poetic as alot of people want to make it. And it still amazes me that people say they haven’t ever been in love or have difficulty telling others that they love them. It’s just an emotion. One that people subscribe far too much power to.
I am very clinical in response to these questions you asked. But if people were to make an assumption that I am a cold fish they would be wrong. I am extremely passionate, romantic and poetic in regards to romance and love. It’s just that exposure to research has left me also very clear about what is going on when I feel attraction to someone or a fire suddenly down below. I feel it, acknowledge it but don’t need to act on it if it won’t serve me well at that time. Knowledge in this area of life has empowered me.

wundayatta's avatar

Research is nice. It’s always good to have a better understanding of things. I spent most of my life in a research environment. Maybe all of it.

But none of it ever seemed to make me able to detach myself completely from a situation, as a researcher. I’ve always been involved with passion and analysis. I can watch myself doing things that might be unwise because something drives me that I don’t understand. I understand the consequences of what I do; and sometimes I do stupid things just because I might die of boredom otherwise.

This need for constant stimulation and to feel passionate emotions… no doubt was born in my childhood. I don’t really understand or believe my power. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m afraid of it. More like being lazy, I think. There’s got to be an easier way to get what I want.

Joybird's avatar

@wundayatta The pattern of thinking to analyze here is your insistance that “I do stupid things because I might die of boredom otherwise.”
There is an acknowledgement of “constant need for stimulation” followed by an admission of a constant need for what you call “passionate” emotions which is what I would suggest is a distortion in the reality of the matter.
There is also some thoughts that lean towards grandiose revealed in statements such as “I don’t really understand or believe my power.”

The points I would make here is that boredom is a product of not making each moment personally fulfilling. If you are not living in the moment and fully participating than you are absorbed in an expectation of being entertained. This trend for being entertained constantly is a pandemic in our culture. We don’t teach our youth how to be still nor how to be in the moment while gaining content from things as simple as chopping wood and doing dishes. This is a skill base that needs to be taught. Many people are addicted in essence to constant stimulation. And no one has ever literally died of boredom. One emeliorates boredom by developing short term and long term goals which they follow through on even if parts of those goals are less than thrilling and desirable.

Regarding the idea that there is a need for “passionate” emotions I would suggest that you are a drama junkie. This is not necessarily a product of a mood disorder although it can be. It can be a pattern developed in a chaotic family where drama was the glue that cemented the members of the group together or solicited the only meaningful interactions that happened between group members. It eventually becomes a personality disorder trait.

To engage in behaviors knowing ful well there will be deleterious effects can be impulsiveness or a function of denial along with a companion thought of grandiosity. It can be a sign of some antisocial thought patterns such as “I am above the law”. An exception to this would be someone who acknowledges that they are stepping outside of societal norms and doing so fully aware of the potential consequences but also fully aware of why they want to make the choice they are making and the benefits they gain by doing so. An example of this might be with Frank Lloyd Wright had an affair with a married woman who made a choice to leave her husband who made that possible under the agreement that she would leave her children behind…or like Einstein who left his wife and children for his beloved cousin. Both men and women here defied conventions while taking on both the consequences and benefits of their choices.

Re “not really understanding or believing my power”. Really? Please don’t tell me you are taking Marianne Williamson’s/Mandella’s comments seriously….“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” It’s a great sound bite but I’m not buying it…not in prose nor in practice. Most of us are fully aware of our potentials and what we are and aren’t doing to realize those. But an awful lot of people make excuses for doing nothing with what skills and abilities they do have….they don’t set goals and therefore they can complain of fear of boredom as they act out instead in ways that don’t take any forethought or planning as well as diligent effort towards completion. They are lazy. (you hit the nail on the head there!)

And lastly I hope you don’t take offense to any of this. I suspect you are opening yourself for examination in order to gleem a new understanding of yourself and what patterns of thinking and behavior you may need to break or adopt as you take on the next leg of the journey. Yours is a healthy process undertaken. It’s one the more people should make use of. Blessed be.

wundayatta's avatar

When I refer to “my power,” it’s not anything big to anyone except me. Some people tell me I’m a good writer. I would dearly love to be a writer. Being good is surely beyond me. I’ve never had anything published, so by my way of thinking, I am not a writer. So I don’t believe people who tell me I can write. So I don’t I don’t believe I have any power, as far as writing is concerned. I’m definitely lazy.

The boredom wasn’t, perhaps, the right word. I’m a drama queen. I feel like I need trouble. I like this feeling that my life is at stake. I don’t know what to make of that. I don’t think I was like that until the last few years.

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