Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is Sex Distinct From Love?

It's Valentine's Day, so I want to bring up a great question: Is sex distinct from love? Can it be?

We all know that when you love someone, when you have that emotional attachment and connection, that sex is part of it. Sometimes, we even mistake sexual desire for love. (OK, that happens far more often than we'd like to admit.) So we know that sex and love can go together. They can even enhance each other.

My theory is that sex and love are distinct elements of our experience, but they often get conflated in ways that don't necessarily work. Part of this is, of course, due to the fact that sex is precisely what leads to having children. You love someone, you want to build a family, the sex is how you do that and thus it is restricted to the one you love. It truly does not work well in modern society for men to be out spreading their seed into any receptive womb. Good stuff, perhaps, in a hunter/gatherer culture where children are raised at least semi-communally. Not so good when statistics show that a two parent home (and this includes two gay parents) generally (not always, but generally) has better outcomes for kids. Perhaps in the "building a family" years, it's a good idea to limit sexual congress to the person with whom you're building the family.

So, that's a window when the conflation of sex and love probably works well. What about prior to that (in the presence of birth control) and, more interestingly, after that? As a couple, you've had your family (the kids may or may not still be present in the home), you've handled the birth control issue so that, one way or another, more kids aren't going to be the result of the sex... Is the conflating of love and sex still something that works well? Or is it a societal convention, or even an emotional/mental/philosophical construct that really doesn't work well? No matter how great the sex is with the love of your life, is that the only person you ever want to have sex with again? What about more adventurous sex? A couple has a hell of a time giving the woman the experience of double penetration if that's what she wants (toys aren't the same, admit it) without a third partner. No matter how flexible your lover is, it's impossible for her to sit on your face and fuck you simultaneously.

What if you're single? Do you never get the experience of an orgasm induced by someone else until you fall in love? Fuck buddies are a great thing. Someone you know and whose company you enjoy, who is also in need of sexual expression... It's an awesome thing.

One of the things I like about swingers is that they've made the distinction between sex (physical gratification) and love. With the person they love, they engage in sexual play. They do it one on one, and they do it with others. To me, that seems healthy (assuming, of course, responsibility is taken for sexual health and birth control).

What do you think?

P.S. In my statement regarding the statistical preference for couples raising kids, I am not putting down single parents. I am a single parent with full custody of my son. I have to tell you, it would be easier with a partner, I'd be probably be making much more money if I had a partner (which again would make many things easier), and a second parent brings a different balance (hopefully positive) for the kid. Single parents can be, and probably mostly are, wonderful parents.

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