Sex, with or without love?


Do you prefer to make love, or “have sex”? Usually, there is no photo: the first option implies a form of transcendence and choice of the partner, the second passes for trivial, impersonal, vaguely shameful, even hygienic. Technically speaking, intercourse can be the same. But symbolically, the two acts don’t even belong to the same galaxy.

For the American anthropologist Helen Fisher, love and sex do not fulfill the same functions in our evolution. In an interview for Vox Magazine, in April 2018, she declared: “Sexual desire is largely orchestrated by testosterone, both for men and women, while romantic love is orchestrated by dopamine. I see romantic love as a fundamental drive due to millions of years of evolution, serving to focus its reproductive energy on a single partner. Sexual desire makes us look for lots of different partners, romantic love makes us look for one partner at a time. “

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To use a warlike metaphor, sex would be a weapon of mass destruction (undifferentiated) while love would embody surgical strike (focused).

This difference is coupled with a clear hierarchy: making love is better. Even our grammar is in line with the consensus: when we make love (definite article), we do “all” love, but when we do “sex” (partitive article), we only do one piece of love. sexuality. Of course, the expression “faire du sexe” is not very correct in French, but it is commonly used. And when we say “to have a sexual relation”, it is still the indefinite article which is used … And which sends us back to the world of interchangeable pleasures: a relation, among all the relations.

Let us come to our sheep: is this preeminence of love absolutely necessary? Should we really give credit to this abrupt division between romantically invested sexuality and cold, emotionless fornication?


To begin with, let’s go back to the possible disconnect between sex and love. Biologically, the two are linked: when you have sex with someone, the hormones that are triggered (dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin) create attachment. But of course, this alignment of the planets doesn’t happen every time: most of us have experienced sex with people that appalled us. Conversely, we can sincerely love our partner… without sexually desiring him or her. Rather, the great love-sex telescoping occurs early in a relationship.

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