Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love is not sex

"Love is sex." From Turn Me On by Dirty Old Ann
A couple of minor incidents recently brought up something something that's been on my mind for years.

It's tragic when people faced with any kind of love &mdash affection (storge), charitable love (agape), friendship (phileo), any love except romantic love (eros) &mdash immediately think of sex. Sex is great. My biggest concern in looking for a wife will be whether she matches my sex drive and kinks; my biggest fear is that I will not be able to find that. Sex is the single most important factor in marriage to most men (including myself); and I have reason to believe my sex drive is stronger than most men my age. But there's so much more to love than that.

People seem to be bad at adjusting a point of view; instead they accept or reject points of view in a mutually exclusive way, even if the two are basically compatible. The sexual revolution has betrayed its hippie founders deeply. Free love was supposed to be about more love; by freeing sexual love of jealousy and possessiveness, it intended to allow expressions of love where they couldn't take place before. A noble goal. It has failed grotesquely; jealousy and possessiveness thrive, but often love is afraid to show itself for fear that it will be mistaken for sexual desire. There is freer sex but more restricted love; and any of the serious old-time hippies I've known would reject that trade utterly.

It is harder now for women to express love with female friends, and much harder for men to express love with male friends. When I gave a male friend a back massage, a couple of women present took pictures, with an intimation that they liked the men touching men thing in an erotic way. I think that was a bit off. It's fine that they find the idea of male-male eroticism hot, it's just off when it's one straight man working out knots in another straight man's back. It's creepy like a guy taking pictures of two straight girls hugging and imagining eroticism. People seem to have almost lost comprehension of nonsexual love. A friend once made a joke about me and my female dogs, which I thought was pretty disgusting. It's really pathetic if you can't imagine a loving relationship with a pet without bringing sex into it.

A fascinating unintended consequence of the sexual revolution has been a new exclusivity in dating. Sixty years ago, when sex wasn't expected on any early date, there was also no expectation of exclusivity; you dated lots of people simultaneously as a matter of course. (It's still that way in Mormon-dominated places.) There was social ritual attached to the transition from dating anyone at whim to "going steady". Moving sex earlier in the dating process has moved the expectation of monogamy earlier in the process, the opposite of what the free love types intended, and that makes it harder to choose the right mate; I bet that's a contributor to the high divorce rate.

This isn't to say that all the effects have been bad; for example, 60 years ago I would have had to suppress my kinks, never letting them see the light of day. As in my first marriage. Not a prospect I like thinking about. But I think overall the Sexual Revolution was a bad trade.


  1. When I was younger, my schoolmates decided I was a lesbian and tormented me all the time, and this made me afraid of expressing any kind of affection toward other girls("Oh my god, I'm proving them right!" "Oh my god, will my friend think I'm hitting on her?!"). On the boy side, my low self-esteem caused me to turn any kind of affection toward or from a guy into sex.

    But through a whole lot of effort and soul-searching I've become a well-adjusted grownup. I have lots of guy friends for whom I feel deep affection but no sexy vibes, and a lot of female friends where we'll sign off our phone conversations with "I love you".

    It's actually tremendously freeing to know that I'm loved by a network of people. Before, I felt like I had to get all my love and affection and snuggling from just one person - my partner. If I happened to be single, well, tough luck then.

    Pet ownership has also been a wonderful thing. I got Bastardcat back when I was single and wow, it was nice to have someone to snuggle and talk to. Coming home is just better when someone is happy to see you.

    What kind of dogs do you have?

  2. I have two rescued mystery-ancestry mutts, named Jill and Cody. (Two is as many as I can handle easily on a walk without getting the leashes tangled.) One of the female dogs I mentioned passed away, and now I have a female and a male, both about 55 pounds. Jill is tall, skinny, and brown, looking a bit like a somewhat small and stout greyhound; Cody looks kind of like a miniature black lab. Having them helps tremendously. I'm mildly allergic to dogs, but it's wonderful to have them for company.

    I like cats too but unfortunately I'm disastrously allergic to them.

  3. I like all dogs, but big lanky mutts are probably my favourite. Give them kisses for me. :D

  4. I kissed them both and told them it was from perversecowgirl.