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.