Love and sex

Of course it’s not an either/or question. But which is more important to you, now, love or sex? You need to know.

Being clear what we want at a given moment in our lives will help us to make choices that affect our success in these areas and will also help us to avoid hurting others.

Love and sex are mixed up because, as Plato pointed out in the Phaedrus, beauty on earth reminds us of heavenly beauty, and who we fall in love with we also wish to unite with. We want to connect with beauty.

At the same time sex is a powerful instinctive drive, and it can and often does operate independently of being in love. The sex drive can convince us we are in love because that is the way to get sex. I’m sorry this is a rather cruder point than the one Plato was making, but it is also true.

To be clear, we do not (I assume) want to be the man who vows undying love to a woman only because he wants to get her into bed. There are women who, like many men, want sex without commitment. If you want sex without commitment (see also my blog entry on ‘fuck buddies‘) then you need to hang out at the sorts of place where you are likely to meet such women (and of course learn the signals and techniques of chatting them up).

If on the other hand you are looking for lasting love then of course your strategy will be different (although many of exactly the same techniques will still be useful at times).

Of course, in any real life situation the two desires are likely both to be present at the same time. Therefore it is important to be clear which desire is uppermost right now. Do not be blinded into imagining you love somebody just because she has a sweet face and a sexy body and you’re imagining ripping her clothes off and doing it right now.

There is nothing wrong in having a friend-with-benefits, as long as you don’t fool yourself and don’t fool her. You should both be more-or-less on the same page, as far as possible.

You may think that all this is too obvious to state. But much unnecessary suffering is made out of not being clear what you want.

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Falling in love

Here is what Plato wrote:

This then is the fourth type of madness, which befalls when a man, reminded by the sight of beauty on earth of the true beauty, grows his wings and endeavours to fly upwards, but in vain, exposing himself to the reproach of insanity because like a bird he fixes his gaze on the heights… – Phaedrus 249

And here is an extract from my soon-to-be published Dating – the missing manual, from the section towards the end called, ‘Is true love possible?’:

Love at first sight.

Yes, it can happen.

In rare cases it really works out. Lovers sometimes feel that they must have met in a previous life. Whether they really did or not neither they nor anyone else can tell, but sometimes it works out.

But it isn’t the only way and these feelings are not always reliable. I’m not saying they’re never true, but us humans are also very good at fooling ourselves.

It is quite possible to fall in love because of our own unmet need for warmth and affection. No doubt the desire for sex plays a big part in this too. For some, the sex part looms largest, for others sex follows on from love. Either way, a starving man will accept any food.

We must beware our own unmet needs.

Serious mistakes can be made, such as unwanted sticky relationships. Obvious perhaps, but such mistakes are common. Be skeptical of your own falling in love, be cautious, don’t commit too soon.

I have heard it said that falling in love lasts for twelve weeks, or in rare cases if you are exceptionally lucky, thirteen. (I don’t think this is absolutely accurate, but you get the point.)

Sure, it is fine indeed to see everything bathed in unusual light, to know that the world is a dream, to feel the strangeness and the ache of being in love. Trying to avoid this state is either going to fail or turn you into a grey zombie. You can’t and shouldn’t fight it.

But don’t promise anything you may not be able to deliver. You don’t need to make promises to keep a woman. You just need to be yourself, and if she’s right for you, it will work out.

Relationships that are good for the long haul will evolve over time. Falling in love is the match that lights the candle. The candle may or may not be lit by the time the match goes out.

For others, it is a slow burn process – they meet, they kind of like each other but aren’t sure, they hang around each other some more, and gradually like a smoky bonfire of damp wood, steam comes and then the fire.

Dating – the missing manual – you can attract and keep the woman of your dreams (if they had taught this in school alongside algebra and French irregular verbs, my whole life would have been different) is theoretically now available from all good bookstores. In practice it won’t be on their computers yet, but in the very near future it will be available to bookshops from their usual wholesalers: Bertrams, Ingram, Barnes and Noble, Gardners, Blackwell etc. I shall post on here as soon as it is available on Amazon, anticipated in about the next two weeks.
Stop press: it looks as though Dating – the missing manual will be available from Amazon from 1st October.