Does Love Make Sex Better?
I’m definitely not a relationship expert. But most people believe that there is a difference between making love and having sex. There’s a physical act. And there’s an emotional act.
Yes, those lines can get blurred. Many people also believe that you can have one without the other. Ideally, though, you want both.
It can be a complex interaction between the two states. For instance, can love make sex better?
It just so happens, someone else was interested in that question.
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
That someone was Beth Montemurro who’s a sociology professor at Penn State. Her work on love and sex was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2014.
Sadly, she only looked at this question from a woman’s point of view. So it looks like I may have to wait to see if she looks at it from a man’s perspective as well.
In the meantime let’s her what Beth has to say about the women in her research:
“Women said that they connected love with sex and that love actually enhanced the physical experience of sex.”
So it appears that love can in fact heighten the physical sensation of sex. At least in the minds of these women she spoke with.
This makes a lot of sense considering that greater feelings of pain or pain tolerance have also been linked to certain mental states. That feeling of connectedness to another may do something similar. Only with pleasure.
There also seems to be another benefit of loving someone you are physically intimate with. Beth found that women felt less inhibited and more willing to to explore their sexuality. She comments:
“When women feel love, they may feel greater sexual agency because they not only trust their partners but because they feel that it is OK to have sex when love is present.”
The Effect of Media
From 2008 to 2011, Beth held in-depth interviews with 95 women from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Many of the older women in the interviews believed that the connection between love, sex, and marriage have been important throughout their lives. No matter what age they were.
Beth believes that the media can play an important role in how women view sex.
Even today, there is a strong message in movies, TV, and magazines that chastise women who have casual sex or sex outside relationships.
“On one hand, the media may seem to show that casual sex is OK, but at the same time, movies and television, especially, tend to portray women who are having sex outside of relationships negatively.”
It’s a mixed message, though. While some shows create a modern view where casual relationships are okay, you still have movies that show that love conquers all.
This message is elsewhere too. While some movies have you believing in the one, other media can portray marriages as mostly sexless.
In Beth’s interviews she found that sex was an important part of their relationships. Beth continues:
“For the women I interviewed, they seemed to say you need love in sex and you need sex in marriage.”
So can you really have sex without love?
I think a more important question is: can you have sex without emotion. To this I would say no, although I know some people would disagree with me.
Our behavior and decisions are deeply rooted in our emotional states. While sex may not always mean love, it is still a very intimate act. And when intimacy is involved, good luck on trying to ignore your emotions. I’m not saying you’ll pledge your undying love to them. But you’ll feel some type of emotion.
I believe our culture is slowly accepting the fact that it’s okay for women to have casual relationships. But I doubt it will make anything less complex when it comes to love and sex.
At the end of the day, having both will still be better than just one or the other.