‘To Make Love or Have Sex?’ – One Man’s Experience
‘Sex’. What power a little three-letter word can have! Chances are that many people who read this will have had their interest piqued simply because of the word ‘sex’ in the title of this post. It is amazing to me that such a little word can bring such a huge range of emotions and reactions within us. Of course, it is not the word that has this power, but the power we give to it that makes it powerful. It is what sex has come to mean to us in the world we live in that brings up such a huge range of responses in us. From titillation to disgust, and everything in between.
But what about ‘making love’? Is it the same as ‘sex’? Describing the physical act, ‘sex’ and ‘making love‘ are often used interchangeably. But are they really the same? Even just saying ‘making love’, it is pretty clear that there is something more going on than just sex. The words themselves when compared to each other are like completely different concepts. Sex as a word is punchy, short, terse. It just is sex. It does what it says on the box. No more, no less.
‘Making love’, however, has the potential to mean so much more. There was a time not too long ago, at the beginning of the last century and possibly earlier, when just flirting with someone was called ‘making love’. The entire wooing period in a relationship was making love. A look across a room was enough to be considered making love. Given the words that make up the phrase, doesn’t it make sense? Expressed in this way, people were literally making love together. So how is it that in a few short decades we have ended up with just sex?
There has been a lot of press and lots of studies about how we behave as a society when it comes to sex, and I do not pretend to be an expert beyond my own experiences. However, it does not take much to see that something is not quite right in our attitudes towards our most intimate of relationships. People are starting to have sex younger. Education about responsible sex in some countries is completely intertwined with religious beliefs. Pornography is very easily available to anyone regardless of their age as long as they have an internet connection, and the porn that is available is more and more extreme. We live in a time when ‘sex addiction’ is now considered an illness. How did we get from the innocence and fun of flirting being considered making love, to a society where people are being diagnosed with a sex addiction in just a few decades?
I remember having a girlfriend who once said to me, “I do not want to have sex with you, I only want to make love”. I scoffed at the idea. “Sometimes I just want to have sex”, I said. Only making love and not having sex felt limiting. Making love conjured up candle-lit scenes on a bearskin rug in front of a fire place. It was not that I was adverse to making love as well as having sex, I just didn’t have time to prepare that kind of setting every other night. I just “wanted to get my freak on” whenever I wanted (though I don’t think I ever actually used that phrase, thankfully).
I was up for exploring all the facets of physical intimacy, but it was all about sex. Sex was the goal of a night out. Sex was the point behind buying flowers. Sex was the desired outcome that was lingering behind even a simple touch.
As far as I knew, a good sex life was the mark of a good relationship. I read sex advice books, watched some pornography, even experimented briefly with tantric practices, all of those things that I had thought were there as tools to make people better lovers. And I thought that they were not unsuccessful. While I was no casanova by any means and was in several monogamous relationships, I felt competent in the bedroom because of these things.
But there was a problem. Something just didn’t feel right. I was stuck in a very familiar pattern of starting a new relationship which would begin full of excitement, spontaneous passion and creativity, but which inevitably ended up in a rut of doing the same thing again and again. There would then begin a search to rekindle the missing passions through the occasional drunken or drug-fuelled night, or trying something new: but boredom, or worse, infidelity would creep in, and eventually the relationship would end. Then the search for a new partner would begin again.
Fast forward to three years ago, and at a presentation Serge Benhayon is asking, “Do you make love, or do you have sex?” At first I thought to myself, as I had before, “what’s the difference?” Well, the difference is connection. Making love is all about connection. And that connection is to ourselves first.
He presented to us that making love is a confirmation of the love that is already felt in ourselves, which then finds itself reflected back to us by the love that is already there in another. Therefore, to truly love someone we must love ourselves truly first. If we do not love ourselves first and we say “I love you” to someone, or we have sex with someone, we are searching for the love that we do not feel for ourselves to be fulfilled by another. And chances are that the other person does not truly love themselves either.
Serge presented the possibility that sex was not about love. It is about needing to get attention from someone and mistaking that attention for love. It is not that sex is bad (Serge never has said something is ‘bad’ or ‘good’, or that one thing was better than another), but just having sex is limiting when compared to the vast and beautiful range of expression that we can experience when we make love. In sex we do not feel the amazing person that we truly are first, and then as that amazing person to be with someone who also feels amazing. Instead, we feel the emptiness that comes from not being all that we know ourselves to be, and from that feeling of lack we go looking for a someone or a situation that makes us feel good – either physically good, or good about ourselves. Sure, sex can feel amazing, but inevitably there comes a time when we ask ourselves, “Is that it? I could have sworn there was something more here”.
Most importantly, we were presented with the fact that, for a man, sex is often about finding relief. There are lots of analogies and sayings about the pressure that men feel around having sex; both peer pressure, and a physical building of pressure that finds relief through sex. However, when men have sex, a big part of what is actually being relieved is the pressure to be the kind of man that they are expected to be by the world, but know that they are not on the inside. Because for many men, in that fleeting moment of orgasm, they can be tender and caring in a way that the world does not always allow. Men miss feeling that deeply within themselves, and even though we do not always know it or allow it, deep inside we are looking for a way to feel that tenderness – or sometimes just to feel anything at all.
All of this was an enormous revelation to me. It was not exactly a comfortable one, but it was profound. It explained the treadmill of relationships I had been on. It explained why I looked at women in a certain way, and what I had actually been looking for. It explained why no matter what I read or tried with my partner, things would slip into dissatisfaction. It explained what was going on in our attitudes towards sex, as a society. It exposed the pressure that exists on men and women to look a certain way, or have a certain job, or wear these or those kinds of clothes. It was all about putting on an outer shell so the thing that was missing, actually feeling lovely just being myself with myself, would be fulfilled for me by someone else.
Having been in numerous bars and clubs and both observing and taking part in the ‘mating dance’ that takes place between men and women, it was very clear to me how we want the love we desperately miss for ourselves to be expressed towards us by another, and how we mistake love for the temporary attention that sex brings to us. Relationships are so often built on a foundation of this temporary attention. Marriages are made, and children are conceived and raised on this basis.
What was now being proposed to me was that the relationship with myself is the most important relationship I have, and that relationship has to come first always if I want to have a truly loving relationship with anyone else. In building that relationship I have had to take responsibility for the way I have been with previous girlfriends, how I have been towards myself, and what it truly means to be a man. It has not always been easy, I am forever learning more and more. It is not an overnight switch to making love all the time, but it is definitely simpler than what I was doing in the past.
Making love is now just a part of my day. It is when I make food. It is having a conversation. It is walking or bathing or shaving, or even brushing my teeth. It is the look across the room. It is a smile. This is all making love so that there is more love in my life for me to express. Thus, when I touch my partner, it is simply about being love as much as I can, and when we lie down together it is not a solemn, serious affair but it is simple and lovely, and beautiful, and fun, and joyful.