There’s one matching question on OKCupid that confused me from the first moment I saw it. (Well, there are many confusing questions on OKC, but this one confused me more than most!)
What’s your opinion of the phrase “making love” when it refers to sex?
There are 4 available options, and they are:
- It’s beautiful.
- It’s hokey and overly sentimental.
- It refers to a very specific kind of sex.
- It’s no better or worse than any other.
About 3 years into my last relationship, my partner and I were having an argument, and she said, “We don’t make love any more.”
I can remember exactly where I was when she said that. We were in our house in Bideford, in North Devon, and I was sitting on the side of the spare bed. I sat there, completely stunned, my head spinning, and my throat so closed up that I couldn’t say a word. She waited for a while, but when I didn’t speak, she turned and walked away.
The only thing I could have thought of to say was, “Is that what you’re calling it?”
I’m not that insensitive.
Ten years later, reading 50 Shades of Grey, Christian Grey said the words, “I don’t make love; I fuck,” and I felt a sense of deep satisfaction that someone, even if it’s only a character in a novel, actually gets it.
Out of interest, I asked a group of other asexuals (via FaceBook) what they thought of the phrase “making love.” Most of those who gave a personal opinion (as opposed to a politically correct answer that seemed carefully designed not to upset the sexuals in the group) said they didn’t relate to it, although a few did, depending on the context . More specific comments were:
I hate when people say making love, because they’re implying that us asexuals don’t love anyone because we don’t have sex…
I hate the way it implies that sex and love are inseparable.
The term always weirds me out and makes me a little bit uncomfortable. It’s the preferred term for physical intimacy for one of my partners, but for me, it’s an emotional turn-off.
Why do you have to overromanticize an animal instinct?
I don’t consider it a proper term. Sex is separate from love I think. Love can happen without sex, sex shouldn’t be called “making love” because it’s not. There’s no love in it. It’s just lust and fulfilling a biological need.
Discovering the online asexual community has been an amazing experience for me. It’s a place where I can say I don’t see any relationship between sex and love, and people understand what I mean. In the wider community, if you said something like that, you’d most likely be looked at as if you’d grown two heads.
To me, love is something incredibly deep and indescribably beautiful, and sex is … well, quite yucky, really. To describe sex as “making love” seems to take something away from the love, not add to it. Once several people had answered my question, I felt it was time to weigh in with my own answer:
I can’t bring myself to see any connection between sex and love. Even when I had sex with my partner (who I loved), the thought that she was referring to that thing I felt obliged to do that made me feel uncomfortable and yucky and distressed as “making love” really bothered me, because I don’t associate any of those kind of feelings with love. Also, I love lots of people (family, friends, etc) but even if I wasn’t ace, I wouldn’t want to have sex with them.
This isn’t meant as a criticism of people who do see sex as an expression of love, and let’s face it, that’s probably the vast majority of people. I realise that most people do see love and sex as inextricably linked, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be able to understand it.
It’s one more aspect of our highly sexualised world that makes many asexual people uncomfortable, and we just have to live with it.