Deborah Tan, Opinions

Should You Have Sex Without Love? – Deborah Tan

We all know it’s possible to have sex without love. But lately, I’ve been wondering, should we have sex without love? And when it’s a woman who finds herself in this conundrum, does it change the way we should answer this question?

We hear about a great number of men who have sex without love, and through years of social and media priming, we have come to “accept” that “it’s just men”. Lots of jokes float around the cyberspace about how men are ruled by their penises, so yeah, it must be in their nature to want to sow their seeds and sleep around with women whom they feel nothing – emotionally – for.

For women, the media has made it such that if we were to engage in sex without love, we are either doing it for money or we are sluts. For us to have sex, we must first fulfill the condition that we have to be in love. Being in love means we are offering our bodies unconditionally to the man we have promised to stay faithful to. Being in love means we want to have the man’s babies and that is why we have sex. Sex is an act of love, sex is for procreation … can women have sex for sex’s sake?  Should women have sex for sex’s sake?


My first question is: Why must women have a reason to have sex?

See my Venn diagram above. If a woman’s only motivation for being with a man is sex, what would both men and women call her? If a woman never wants to have sex and believes only in love, pure love, which occupation would you see her in? The so-called ideal where sex and love happen in one place … what do you call that? Is that the place where Marriage also fall into?

I’m not encouraging anyone – both men and women – to throw their inhibitions out of the window and go have one-night stands with random strangers. Similarly, if you want to wait to have sex, you should be able to do so without anyone guilt-tripping you about it. You just have to ask yourself, “What am I waiting for? For love or for when I’m ready to explore my sexuality?” Once you know that, the waiting becomes a lot more meaningful.

What I’m asking is, is it wrong for us to have sex without love? If I don’t do it for money, if I’m not cheating on a partner, if I am fully aware of the arrangement and take sufficient precaution, can I have sex simply because I enjoy it?

Second question: Why is love so important whenever sex is concerned?

I am not downplaying the importance of love in itself. What I take issue with is how love and marriage are often used as a “moral leash” on women when it comes to sex. Often, the media is not allowed to talk about sex unless the woman and man are in love. In some countries, magazines can only write about sex if they start by mentioning something to the effect of, “… tonight, with your husband …”.

To fulfill a physical need women must meet an emotional condition. If they don’t, they are seen as immoral and promiscuous. Is this logical?

In my opinion, it is more empowering for a woman to understand that it’s okay to have sex as long as it is she who WANTS it. I’ll always remember the “sex education” we had in school where a teacher would sagely tell us, “If a boy says, ‘You’ll do it if you love me,’ do not fall for his lies.” There is a flaw in the argument.

It ties sex with love. At an age where most of us had no clue what love really meant, it was a bit vague and confusing. Then the second piece of advice came up, “You should wait till you get married.” She probably meant to tell us that (1) we will fall in love soon (2) when we do, we will marry the man we love (3) when we are married, we can finally have sex (4) we can afford to wait when it comes to sex.

OK. I’m 34 right now. I’m not married. I’ve found the man I love, I’m pretty sure I know what I want and how to protect myself … can I have sex already?

The tighter you tie sex and love together, the more you will find that it hurts more than it empowers.

The “love” guilt-trips us emotionally whenever a relationship does not work out: “Oh, we had sex already. Now that he wants to break up with me, does that mean no man would ever want me?”

When women are made to think that love and sex have to go hand-in-hand, they often get confused over the physical and the emotional. It is possible to have good sex with a man you don’t love just as it is possible to love a man who is average in bed. The sooner we make peace with that, the sooner we figure out what is more important to us, the less likely we are to find ourselves in a disappointing relationship.

At the end of the day, I do not think anyone has the right to judge a woman for wanting sex without the emotional bonds. What is wrong is when a man uses this emotional bond to exploit a woman sexually. What is wrong is when society labels a woman for not wanting to fall into the “ideal” place where sex and love should happen together. What is wrong is when we are made to feel bad for simply wanting the right to do what we want – sexually and emotionally – with ourselves. It’s not about whether we should have sex without love, it’s whether if we do, should we be made to feel like sluts?

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and hates it whenever people try to label women. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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