Experience,  Opinion

Love and Lust

What is the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone?
How do these differences color and effect the way you interact with that person?
Where sex is involved, does the emotional layer affect its quality?
Where do lust and desire fit into this?

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the ebbs and flows in a long-term relationship. With the Wicked Wednesday prompt of “Celibacy” and the Food For Thought prompt of “love vs. being IN love” and the place that lust/desire have in this equation, plus all the great posts that have come from these prompts, I’ve been considering my own marriage.

When I first saw the “Celibacy” prompt, I thought surely I had nothing to write about, but really, my marriage has seen its fair share of celibate times. Mr. D and I have very different sex drives, and I find myself quiet often not really caring about or even thinking about sex. I lose myself in the day-to-day: working, being a mom, housekeeping, friends, family, reading. I find myself content without sex for long periods of time…days…weeks… In fact, Mr. D has called me a sex camel before, and I wouldn’t disagree.

But, Mr. D cannot live this way. He needs sex to establish, strengthen, and maintain an emotional connection.

I often believe I don’t need this, that I can find emotional support and intimacy by other means, like snuggling on the couch, cuddling in bed, hugging, kissing…simply living side by side. And, indeed, I can. But we do begin to slip into a rather numbing routine where we begin to lose track of each other when this happens. We become friends and co-parents rather than lovers. Roommates. And I can see the folly in this, though when it’s happening, it doesn’t really bother me all that much.

At these times, when our tide ebbs, and we are existing at low tide, it is love that holds us together. We are companions. We still talk about our day…laugh together…support one another. But, Mr. D is right, we couldn’t exist this way forever and expect our marriage to last. Both of us would eventually seek that “in love” feeling…the butterflies…the desire…the lust…the need…the want.

When our sex life is more regular, we are definitely more connected emotionally, and things feel more stable. There is a spark that joins us closer than just love could. I mean…I love my son…I love my parents…but I’m not in love with them. The “in” is reserved for my romantic or sexual relationships. Something else that seems to come with a more regular sexual bond is the question of where D/s fits in our schematic.

Communication increases, the things we talk about become more personal, and we become more vulnerable.

Sex takes us to a place that is almost spiritual, creating an island of “us” that makes us more powerful as a couple.

That’s the power of “in” when it comes to love…at least to me.

And while I still believe it is natural in a long-term relationship to have times where sex is less important or happens less often (or even not at all for brief periods), without it, I guess I have to agree with Mr. D’s summation: what’s the point?

On a separate, but related, note, I don’t believe one needs to be in love with someone to enjoy sex or have a relationship with them. But, I do believe that being in love with someone makes the sexual experience deeper and more satisfying.

I also believe that being in love does not mean all sex must be deeply meaningful. People can have all kinds of sex for all kinds of reasons, and even the most in-love, connected, committed couple needs to have the freedom to just fuck and have fun with sexuality in addition to making love and bonding through sex.

Basically, my opinion comes down to this: To maintain a successful, satisfying, lasting relationship, the people involved must both love AND be in love with each other. They must also feel lust and desire for each other on a fairly regular basis…because without it, sex begins to feel like work…and when sex feels like work, celibacy starts to look good. And when celibacy starts to look good, there are bigger problems in the relationship than sex and love.

Believe me. I know.


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  • Peter

    A well thought out and very wise post, as you say, there is a huge difference between love and being in love…
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such lovely way !!!

  • J. Lynn

    I’ve read and re-read this piece. It’s funny how we tie in the different themes and come out with something unexpected. Many times a self revelation. I love your writing and most of the time, as I’m reading I’m saying, “yes! Exactly what I thought or feel.”
    I’ve had this love conversation with my sister in law before as she has been married to my brother for 16 years and my relationship has been 12 years. Most days we just love each other. The honeymoon phase has long since been over. So we try new things to spice it up. Those are the ‘in love’ moments, and they are definitely necessary to keep the relationship from going stale.

    • Brigit Delaney

      Oh, I’m glad my writing resonates with you! That’s at least part of the point of doing this, right? To make connections with others?

  • Marie Rebelle

    I think when sex just slips away (even with good reason) and it’s not spoken about, it can become a huge issue, no matter how much love there is between the two people. As always, communication is key in everything.

    Rebel xox

    • Brigit Delaney

      Communication is key, and love is NOT enough to hold a relationship together. It’s definitely a good glue, but it’s not enough. I totally agree with you that communication is the most important thing.

  • @F4TFriday

    I get this totally. When my ex and I split, we definitely still loved (or at least cared about) each other, but we had long since stopped being in love. The physical attraction was still there and, because we knew our way around each other’s bodies as a result of over a decade of experience, the sex was still good. Something, however, just wan’t there anymore; we no longer had that connection that made us “us” instead of just two people.

    • Brigit Delaney

      There is definitely a spark that makes things more than just love. The butterflies. The weakness in the knees. The lust. The desire. If that stuff isn’t there, there isn’t enough love in the world to make a relationship really work.

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