Recently I have become enticed by the idea of legendary love: love that survives time, trials, and is the thread that holds your life together. This enticement is wrought from my exhaustion with single life; I see great loves all around me and I desire one of my own. But this craving for love has further confused me about the concept of sex and it’s association with casualness. This confusion lies in that we have singularized love as purely emotional and sex as purely physical. After all, people can have casual sex, but not casual love. A union that once existed together, sex and love have become so foreign to one another that suddenly we no longer understand how they coexist.
Open to argument in these modern times is the idea that we do not need to associate sex with love and can engage happily in it that way. While I agree that for some it can be, I ask should it be, weighing what this oh-so-candid casualness in our sex lives has cost our relationships? For me, sex without love is like fat free ice cream. While it can be good, it is just not the same.
Ideologically our views on sex are drastic from that even thirty years ago. More people are having more sex with more partners now than ever before. Covert and blatant sexuality pervades our lives in unprecedented extremity. This inundation has made us more aware, but to a degree more careless. We no longer believe that sex has a definitive quality to the development of a relationship, and so we engage in it quickly and randomly, almost to the point where you want to get it out of the way so you can “really get to know someone”.
Here lies our self-sustained paradox. We believe that sex doesn’t make a relationship, yet we look to it to define it. Interestingly enough, in a time when one night stands and sex buddies are common, sleeping with someone you are ‘dating’ implies a feeling of semi-togetherness, and even entitlement. The disjunction lies in that physically you have attained an intimacy that emotionally you have not. In other words, actions may run ahead of intentions, and though physically familiar with someone you are still trying to get to know each other and decide if you want to pursue a relationship.
Disorder is created in our intimate interactions with the opposite sex through the merging of traditional definitions of sex and love (however muddled) with the modern conventions society has created. In many ways we feel a sense of moral hypocrisy. At some point we think we should love who we sleep with, and in turn, sleep with who we love. When this is not the case, after a given amount of time it is our nature to employ the “flight or fight” instinct. Either we address the issue with our partner or we walk away. So essentially sex either brings people closer together or it distances them.
Accordingly, sex in a new relationship can either hinder its development or help it. This is much too intricate a dilemma for me to generalize and say definitely one way or another. However, I will speculate that sex engaged in too soon complicates getting to know someone. This is because sex can get in the way of establishing an emotional connection or an intellectual interest, for the reason that the focus is on physical aspects. As I mentioned earlier, sex also creates expectations. Of course I am no longer naïve enough to believe what mother taught, that a man who has ‘gotten the milk’ does not ‘buy the cow’. (We as women no longer even want to be ‘bought’.) But I do believe that abstaining from sex builds excitement and anticipation that is an inherent part of dating. Furthermore, the desire for someone also allows for time to get to know them without the distraction of sexual elements.
Relationships, especially in the early stages, thrive off of change. There has to be a variety of activities you do together. It is common that once two people discover a sexual chemistry they forgo doing anything else and sex becomes a distraction rather than a bonus. A delicate balance must be maintained, but rather than try to establish this balance it would be easier to abstain from having sex until there is a solid relationship and, though I risk sounding like a old-fashioned romantic, until you are in love.
After all, I am talking about legendary love. And I am speculating that the casualness of sex has cost us the sacredness of it, and that may have cost us the chance to have great loves in our lives. Not because of sex, but because the opportunity to truly to get to know someone was overlooked. I want to clarify that I am not talking about saving sex for marriage. That is unrealistic in today’s world and possibly to a great fault to both parties. I am saying that living in a society saturated with the projection of instant gratification, sex has become another thing we seek and satisfy, and not a component of love. Perhaps if we associated one with the other it would benefit us personally and in our relationships, making legendary love more accessible.
Sex and love coexist together in how we connect them in our own lives. If we keep sex for those we love and keep those we love for sex the dichotomy works itself out and there is no confusion. As for me, I believe that sex may hinder the possibility of finding a great love, and so I will diet for months, or more, to have that real, rich ice cream that is so satisfying and forgo the less filling, lighter substitute. In other words, I will fight to keep sex sacred and with that, fight to bestow love to its proper place in the sexual arena. Besides, it’s the fight that makes love legendary.