Keeping Love & Sex Separate?


Question about love and relationships and casual sex. So I’m female, more or less straight, mid-20’s. I have a really high sex drive, and am luckily perfectly fine with casual sex so I can satisfy that without it needing to be in the context of a relationship. I’ve had 5 partners, 2 of whom I was dating and in love with, 3 of whom were just friends. I have no problem expressing in a relationship, romantic or platonic, that I love someone and can be an intensely emotional and loving person. But for some reason I am simply unable to combine love and sex, despite enjoying them both so strongly.

One partner I dated for over two years and was considering marrying him, and still I could not experience sex as anything more than something fun to do. My love for him didn’t interfere with the sex, it just didn’t add anything either. It changed nothing. It was no different than with a casual partner, especially considering that my casual partners weren’t exactly short term so they’d had time to discover what I liked too.

He would try to make it romantic and stare into my eyes and say “I love you,” and of course I would say it back, because I did love him, but it was such a huge turn off. It was like he stopped in the middle of us having sex and said “we should get a dog,”: totally irrelevant to the situation, and distracting. I hear people describe sex as this intense, romantic, emotional bonding with their partner, and I just don’t get it. I experience and express love, I enjoy sex, but they just don’t go together for me; they don’t add anything to one another. Am I missing something? Is there any way that I’m just a normal healthy part of the variability in sexuality, or does this mean something’s wrong? Is there a name for this?

People use making love to describe a very particular type of sex. It is as you described: steamy, intimate, soul burning, I love you, let two become one, a slow building orgasm that devours each partner as they let go all at the same time.

In reality-land, you can make love in lots of different ways. Some people make love by fucking really hard. Some people make love by cuddle fucking. Some people make love through role-play. Some people make love through BDSM.

Sex can be a big deal. It can be important. It can be a critical part of the foundation of your relationship. It can rock the boat. It can provide stability. It can just be something that’s fun to do. To me it sounds like you believe combining sex and love looks a certain way. What you expressed to me, it sounds like you already have sex and love going on at the same time. It’s just not happening in a way that you feel other people are experiencing it.


An emotional connection with someone can really intensify the sexual connection that you have. When you care about someone it can feel big to play together. Bigger than the casual sex, even if you do click well and know one anthers bodies. The longer you’re with someone the more trust builds up, the more knowledge grows, the more love is able to feed into those experiences you have together.

It doesn’t mean that casual sex can’t be just as satisfying (as you may have experienced) or that you need to experience some heart-wrenching scene from the notebook to really make love.

I would be curious to know if you find your relationships altogether satisfying and you feel comfortable enough to explore your sexuality with your long-term partners. Do you feel that there is a boundary when you are having sex with them where you can’t express love and sex at the same time? Do you wish you were able to? That would be a different conversation to have. And, also, a pretty important one.

Given what information you gave me I would stick with the idea that you simply prefer a certain type of sex, and the eye-gazing intimacy plays its own unique role, outside of the bedroom, not inside it.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit to the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog.

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