Between lovers there exists an important relationship between love and sex that desperately yearns to be explored. Within contemporary culture there seems to be a juxtaposition of the two that suggests true love can definitely exist without sex and that sex can absolutely be used without love. Rather than challenge existing norms on the topic I would like to put forth what the relationship between love and sex means to me. If therein a challenge can be found then think deeply on it and explore what this topic means to you.
From a biological perspective sex is the procreative tool used to propogate the survival of the species. In layman’s terms this means we need to make more and more babies in order to survive. There are many ways in which this is evidenced that include a very specific look at the biological differences between males and females. Our very basic sex ed. courses taught us that males carry the seed and females carry the egg. Once the seed has fertilized the egg that egg incubates for 40 weeks. That is essentially 40 weeks in which the woman is sexually out of commission for reproductive purposes. Arousal occurs completely differently between the two genders. Males are aroused on sight. It is instantaneous in most cases. Women are aroused emotionally. It takes time for them to find arousal most of the time. Thus males exert dominance in order to show that they are the alpha protectors and females take the slow road to determine which male will protect them best.
Imagine an apocalyptic scenario where humanity is on the brink of extinction. This is when survival of the species is most important. If man was designed to only desire procreation with one woman then, if something were to happen to the female or her pregnancy, the human race would surely become extinct. Thus a ready supply of eggs require fertilization in order to propogate the species.
Many would argue that the apocalyptic scenario above doesn’t apply as our current world is overpopulated enough as it is. While that may be correct it does not mean that our biological functions do not perform as listed above. Where we begin is as animals functioning in the way of all animal species — towards survival of the fittest. Where we grow differs entirely. We can make conscious decisions. We can form emotional connections. We can get in touch with our higher Self. Each of these factors is what separates us from our base animal instincts.
Sex, therefore, is a responsibility. We understand on an intellectual level that there is no immediate need for the propogation of the species. However we do behave as if procreation is a must, but we eliminate the end result through contraception, sterilization, and abortions. Thus we hold ourselves unaccountable and circumvent responsibility. This is not to say that there is anything inherently negative about birth control but rather there is something negative about our willingness to shirk responsibilities over a base animal instinct.
Love is ultimately the tool that holds us accountable for our use of sex. Love, however, is broken down into four different levels that the english language doesn’t have individual words for. Eros is the sexual form of love that includes feelings of intense passion. It is a love that cannot last unless it evolves into something higher because it very often is centered on the self. Males feel eros love instantaneously. In fact it is ridiculous how most males respond to this form of love in contemporary culture — sending “dick pics”, immediate declarations of love, sending postured pictures of muscles. Most males do each of these things as if females respond to eros love in the same way males do. They just don’t.
Phileo is the type of love one feels for another’s soul. It allows us to accept flaws and ultimately drives us to forgive, however it is ultimately conditional depending upon the the elevation of the souls attached to one another. There is even a certain level of selfish behavior attached to this form of love that isn’t necessarily negative. While feeling phileo love we may be completely giving of ourselves to our partner, but we often want the same in return. Evolving from eros to phileo is what keeps the relationship going, but when one has elevated while another stagnated that is when the relationship begins to falter.
Storge is the feeling of love one has for family and community. While storge love may appear selfless it is actually selfish in that it is a love bound by duty. In other writings I have used the abuse victim as an example and I feel this is the perfect spot to rehash the example. Many abused women have a very difficult time leaving their abusers. The problem is amplified when there are children involved. This is because the woman has developed a familial or cultural sense of duty and devotion either to her children or to the abuser. She feels that she cannot leave because she has to stay. The reason that this type of love can be a hindrance to spiritual growth is because family and culture can ultimately hold us down pulling us towards a lesser path. The abused woman is doing herself and her children more harm by adhering to storge as opposed to elevating to agape.
Agape is the final form that love takes completely free of condition and selfishness. It is the type of love we all strive for and is the type of love every man who has ever said, “Yeah it’s all downhill from here,” doesn’t have. With agape we love for what is within as much as for what is without and we embrace the flaws others have. It is a sacrificial that gives without expectation of return. In the truest sense agape is something that you can feel just for someone being human. You love and want the best for them even if you do not feel eros, storge, or phileo for them. “Love your enemies” is an expression of agape. Agape love is infinite and cannot be depleted. Any time someone has said, “I just can’t keep loving anymore” they were not referring to agape. Since it exists without the concept of self there is no reason to ever give up on agape. Any love given up on falls into either eros, storge, or phileo.
What then is the relationship between love and sex? Sex is the physical manifestation of love in all its stages. When we commit to sex with eros in our heart the sex is carnal and raw and purely about physical pleasure. The two have a symbiotic relationship with one another. Eros leads to sex and sex leads to more eros. When people feel that after sex they love their partner more this is simply an expression of eros. Sex, in this mode, is far more about self gratification. The male just wants to orgasm. The female just wants to orgasm. Although I would argue that because a woman expresses and receives love differently than men there are many women who are happy just to see their men orgasm.
Those who have evolved to phileo level of love find that sex is much more incredible. Both lovers give and receive of one another more fully. More of the body is explored. More of each other’s breath is breathed. Eyes meet and are held longer and deeper with a hunger both physical and spiritual. The difference between phileo sex and eros sex is so astounding that it is the entire reason why those who engage in eros sex either feel hollow afterwards or attempt to get more and more of it. The connection formed during phileo love is deep and encompasses both the mind and spirit. However, like phileo love on its own, it only lasts as long as both parties move forward both spiritually and physically.
Agape sex is the highest form of true love making. While it closely resembles phileo sex there is much more giving involved in agape. It becomes a form of worship. The male explores his partner so that he may know her inside and out and give to her in all ways she wishes to be given. The female returns the exploration gaining deeper understanding of him and giving to him in all ways. Their breath becomes one breath. Their rhythms become one rhythm. Their climax is near to overwhelming. When at last it is done the two are not drained of energy but rather revitalized as body and soul had merged into one even if for a moment.
Storge is an asexual love. Having love for a brother or sister does not mean that you would have sex with them. In a relationship where the man and woman have stagnated at storge love you will find that the sex has diminished, attraction has dropped, and the typical biological functions of the body don’t respond like they used to. Because storge is a love based on loyalty and duty sometimes these couples stay together because they know of no other option. Something is always missing. In older couples who split after 30 or more years of marriage you find that the reason they divorced is because their love was stuck in this phase.
Love and sex truly are intertwined and it is up to us to use it responsibly. If we are truly in love with our partner and we claim to possess either phileo or agape love for her then it is our responsibility to respond to her sexual needs. Furthermore we need to evaluate what stage of love we are at with our partner. Am I interested in her only physically? Do I want to know her on a deeper level? Am I willing to give to her without getting anything in return? These questions will lead you to understand how to better use sex. If your love only ever exists at eros then don’t get sexually involved with someone looking for phileo. Find another eros.
These loves may all exist in some combination too. Eros and storge may be your friends with benefits. Eros and phileo may be your honeymooners. Agape, eros, and phileo may be your soulmates. All in all it is important to understand who you are, what you want, and who you are with. If you want your partner to know how you feel about her then give her the worship she craves. Show her that your words are not hollow when you tell her how much of a goddess she is. Surrender yourself to her in body, mind, and spirit and you will quickly find that she will bring down her walls and do the same for you.