First and foremost, sex is a wonderful thing. It’s a way of expressing ourselves, relieving stress and most of the time, it feels pretty damn good. Depending on the reason that you’re sleeping with someone, you’ll be exposing yourself to a range of emotions. Navigating through those feelings can be messy, and because of the way our minds are usually geared to see the worst in any given situation, you’ll probably be on the receiving end of some rough thinking.
This comes even before the concept of love, which adds a completely different spin on it. Primarily, sex is a moment of extreme intimacy with somebody, which can have varying implications depending on your relationship to that person. For example, if you hook up with a lifelong friend, it’s going to mean a lot more than sleeping with a complete stranger. We all know this, but rifling through the feelings brought on by sex can be overwhelming when we’re in the thick of it.
I thought about this question during a discussion with a friend, who said that love -did- need to be removed from sex. My friend was focusing more on the connotations; of engaging in sex with anybody and what that meant. It’s true that western society has moved bounds from thinking of sex as something that’s only reserved for married couples, but we also hold onto some stigmas that negatively impact some who have a more casual view on the subject.
Namely, people can be ridiculed for their pursuit of a more laid-back approach to sex. Despite how terrible it is, we can’t shy away from the fact that gender is represented unfairly in this matter. It appears more acceptable for men to sleep around that it is for women, whilst in addition, women are sometimes portrayed as becoming too attached once sexual relations have started. Do people associate women as having more sex for love, as opposed to simply for the sake of the act itself? If there was a more clear-cut divide between our mental and physical intimacy, would this prejudice against women’s sexual habits fade away?
A persistent issue with ‘casual’ sex, is that occasionally feelings will get caught up in the mix. That’s understandable, as being so intimate with someone can open yourself up to possibilities: you might begin to see that person differently (this is NOT restricted by gender). After all, we learn a lot about other people -and ourselves- when we have sex, and sharing such a private experience can, of course, lead to attachment. The tricky part is estimating how or when you start feeling love for someone.
Is it right to start loving someone because you slept with them? That’s a difficult question to answer, because love itself is subjective, and varies from person to person. I know that I thought I’d ‘fallen in love’ with people I’d slept with when I was younger but now that I’m older, my perception of love is completely different. As many people do, I was hurt by several encounters wherein I thought an emotional relationship was forming, when all it turned out to be was a good time.
I believe that both love and sex can (and should) be separate entities: that it’s possible to have one without the other. Love is already known to exist without physical intimacy in a platonic fashion, so it’s only natural that sex can be separate too. It’s true that ‘making love’ and casually sleeping with someone are two separate, and I don’t endorse there being sex without love either.
If there was a definitive separation between the two, people would, in theory, get hurt less. If there was always the understanding that sex doesn’t equal love, many people -like my younger self-, would be spared from getting their hearts trampled over. There’s undeniably an issue with being open and honest in today’s dating scene, and it makes one wonder whether accepting sex as a more casual pursuit outside of a relationship would help.
Then again, making mistakes and padding through the dark in our pursuit of a life partner or love is character-building, no matter how unpleasant it is for us at the time. I don’t believe I would have found my life partner (or known what to do with him) if I hadn’t already experienced what it is to have sex, and to love. Our feelings can be a very important part of sex, and we shouldn’t necessarily put a damper on them.
We all owe it to ourselves to adventure through both physical and mental relations with people, and sex can be a huge part of who we are. Whether it’s for love or simply for pleasure, we learn so much about ourselves when we explore this part of ourselves, including our arduous search for our own definition of love. Some people don’t associate the two with each other, and that’s fine.
As with most things in this world, sex means different things to different people, and it’s up to us to make sure we don’t lose sight of ourselves or others in our pursuit of either love or pleasure.