Sex Without Love: Are Sex-Based Relationships Healthy?

Mackenzie Wright's picture

For a long time, in western culture, sex was reserved for marriage. The sexual revolution came and blew that sentiment out of the water— through the 60’s and 70’s, “free love” became the way of life not just for the younger generations.

Divorce rates began to skyrocket and even in mid-life, more and more people were finally beginning to explore their own sexual nature. Then came the 80’s and the 90’s, and with the threat of HIV and a host of other sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence fans shot back with a push to re-establish the taboo of sex outside of marriage.

It’s interesting how many mixed messages there are on this very topic. In pop culture, sex without love is sometimes glorified. Casual sex is treated as natural— even desirable.

If you’re comfortable and happy having a purely sexual relationship and it’s not making you feel bad or causing problems in your life, enjoy it.

It’s for the evolved person who can enjoy indulging in carnal pleasures without their dignity, self-esteem or image suffering from it. And sometimes, in that same culture, the opposite message comes through. Guys who have sex without love are painted as shallow or sophomoric; women are evil seductresses or self-absorbed sluts.

The argument still rages today— is it healthy to have sex-based relationships without love, or is anyone who gives into sex without love and commitment just setting themselves up for a lot of pain and emotional isolation?

The fact is— there is no blanket answer for everyone.

When it’s Healthy

Whether or not a sex-based relationship is healthy for you largely depends on your motivation for having sexual relationships without love. And that largely depends on how you view sex in the first place.
Some people were raise with more progressive attitudes when it comes to sex— they don’t see it as taboo, they see it as natural.

They don’t see sex without love as shameful or demoralizing, but fulfilling and empowering. They can enjoy sex purely for the physical gratification and walk away without guilt or remorse. Having sex doesn’t make them question their feelings about someone or make them feel emotional obligations toward the person.

When it’s Not Healthy

Not everyone can adopt this point of view— particularly women. When the mind connects sex with intimacy and emotions, it becomes very hard to separate. If a person does not find sex without love fulfilling or gratifying, then it’s better to abstain from such relationships.

It’s not healthy to use sex for means other than physical gratification, like the expectation that it will blossom into love. Sex should likewise not be used for attention or as leverage in a relationship to gain something else.

If people use sex as a form of escapism, it’s no different than being addicted to other behaviors. Using sex to avoid dealing with pain or loneliness can only bring on more of the same.

Basically, if purely sexual relationships are not personally satisfying, then it’s not healthy for you to engage in these types of relationships.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Waiting

Delaying sexual relations doesn’t make you a prude or a tease; it doesn’t make you “old fashioned” or “frigid”. No matter what kind of messages you hear from people telling you casual sex is perfectly fine, you have to be true to yourself. Know yourself—if you prefer sex to be meaningful and with someone for whom you have deeper feelings, then never feel pressured to rush into it.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Not Waiting

Don’t allow other people’s hang-ups about sex to label and judge you. If you’re comfortable and happy having a purely sexual relationship and it’s not making you feel bad or causing problems in your life, enjoy it. You don’t need to deprive yourself of the experience out of some false sense of modesty. Once again, know yourself and be true to your own feelings.