Love without sex or sex without love?

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Louise Hay
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Love without sex or sex without love?

Last update: 15 September, 2022

“Sex without love is an empty experience. But, of all the empty experiences, it is one of the best. "
- Woody Allen -

Sexuality is one of the topics on which we always elaborate a thousand hypotheses, conjectures and suppositions. It is a complex subject which has been dealt with by the most diverse disciplines.


Some try to understand it from the enigmatic world of neurotransmitters. Others want to decipher it from the cultural point of view, or simplify it by appealing to the simple instinctive question.


What is certain is that there is no last word on the subject of sexuality. The different ways to enjoy sexuality or to suffer from it are innumerable, as many as the human beings who inhabit our planet.

One of the biggest sources of unrest is the relationship between sex and love. To what extent can love exist in a couple without sex in the relationship? And to what extent can a sexual relationship exist without love intervening?

Love without sex

It has been called in a thousand different ways: "platonic love", "kind love" or, sometimes, "lying love". The question is: can there really be love in a couple without a sexual encounter?

To answer this question, we must first specify a detail that we sometimes forget: sexuality is not limited to just our genitals.

This statement may be incomprehensible to some, particularly to people who do not conceive of a sexuality that goes beyond the sexual act as such.

Sexuality also involves a large set of different sensory experiences. Un kiss or a caress are an expression of sexuality, and not just a "preamble" of it. The hands, the voice, the caresses are one way of creating sexual closeness in the couple.


But back to the central question: can there be love without sex? The answer is definitely a nice YES. There is nothing fixed and unshakable in matters of sexuality. On the contrary: we should never impose rules.

A study conducted by Professor Anthony Bogaer of the University of Ottawa found that some couples, after several years of living together, continue to feel in love, but do not have sex.

They don't want to leave their partner because they have a stable and rewarding relationship, but at the same time they no longer feel any sexual attraction.

On the other hand, even the psychoanalyst Oscar Menassa has indicated that in reality it is very rare for love and sexual desire to coincide. When this happens, too, it is often only for a short time. Finally, he added that we must not forget the people who define themselves as "asexual".

Sex without love

Nowadays, "sex without love" has almost become the norm. For many people, saying that you need love to have sex is a romantic and buried idea. The idea has emerged that sex corresponds to pleasure, while love corresponds to commitment and, therefore, to problems.

Many couples quickly make it clear that sexual intercourse "means nothing" on an emotional level. So that nobody gets wrong ideas. And many take a bad eye on either one of them wanting "something more" or starting to have feelings after seemingly no-commitment sexual intercourse.

Sexual intercourse is assumed to be a kind of "quality test". If the result is satisfactory, it could result in a somewhat longer relationship; otherwise, let everyone continue their own way.

But so, can sex exist without love? Again we must return to the definition of sexuality. If we conceive of sex as the pure sexual act, the answer is definitely YES. But if we extend the concept as we explained earlier, the answer is NO.


Love: multiple realities

At this point it is also worth clarifying that the word "love" can define multiple realities. The extent of this feeling depends on the characteristics of those who feel it.

For some it is a lake of freezing water, in which they can barely dip their fingertips. Others instead dive and swim in depth, regardless of the temperature.

If we talk from the point of view of mental health, certainly sex with love is much healthier and more rewarding.

But this by no means means that sex without love is a bad experience! In reverse: in some cases it is a totally legitimate way to fully enjoy the pleasures of life.


In any case, each person must find his own way of enjoying his sexuality. There is no norm, "normality" is a simple statistical datum. Only we can know if the way we are experiencing our sexuality gratifies us or makes us feel bad.

If it gratifies us, it doesn't matter what we do - we're doing it right. If it makes us feel bad, it is worth taking the time to reflect and understand what is wrong.

Images courtesy of Juan Felipe Rubio

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