Are Men More Likely to Separate Love & Sex?

Men separate love and sex more than women, right?

Men do seem to be more interested in having sex without love. They are more likely to say “yes” when offered casual sex and they are more likely to suggest having sex partners outside of a relationship, perhaps threesomes, open marriage, or “swinging.”

In the last few months there’s been talk on the blogosphere about open marriage thanks to Newt Gingrich, as well as Dan Savage’s New York Times piece advocating open relationships. Some say it’s easier for gay men (like Savage) to make this particular fantasy a reality since men can more easily separate out sex and love.

Social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Brad Bushman say men are indeed more likely to separate out love and sex in that way. But it turns out that women are perfectly adept at separating the two, as well. Women just tend to do it in an entirely different way. They are more likely to enjoy love without sex. In fact, a couple of men who read my blog have complained about this very issue, insisting porn helps them cope with sexless marriages.

One national survey asked people whether they agreed with the statement “love and sex are two different things” and women were more likely to agree with this than men.

So it seems that men are more likely to accept sex without love whereas women are more likely to accept love without sex. Who knows how much the difference is based in biology versus culture (the latter certainly has some effect).

But most often both genders think love combined with sex is best.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 8, 2012, in gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. As a woman I separate the two as well. I love my husband and we have a good sex life, but I would love him exactly the same without that. I see sex as fleeting, love as long term. It’s nice if the two come together (the long term and the fleeting) but I find myself conflicted about the line I feel between them nonetheless.

  2. I personality cannot accept sex without love because I do not want to have sex with someone who does not love me and I do not love neither. I believe there are biological reasons why men are more likely to accept sex without love because they constantly become sexual aroused and need to deal with it. Besides, their sexual desire does not really include love. They just want to have sex. This can be less likely to happen among women because emotional connection during sex is important for women and they want love in sex.

  3. I think women typically cannot have sex without becoming emotionally involved. Women like to mix passion with sex, and so when they have sex with someone that they don’t love, they become more confused about their emotions than men. Men usually don’t say “no” when the opportunity arises, if they do, it is typically the result of their moral standards(which most men don’t have) or the fear of getting cut by their women, not because they don’t enjoy having sex with other women. In contrast, women usually dismiss the idea of having sex if there is no emotion involved, because they don’t enjoy it as much as the sex that involves love and passion. They usually agree to have sex with someone that they don’t love because they have been emotionally disappointed in their love life.

  4. From what we see and what we learn, it really seems that men are more interested in having sex without love. In my opinion, sometimes men and women are the same. The reason we see men treat love and sex separately is more because of the culture and the society. I believe both men and women need sex. Because of the culture and people’s views, women behave differently than men. I read research that surveyed a group of women about looking at pictures of naked muscular men, these women are not told what they would see. The result shows that only a very small percentage of women like it. Most of women feel angry and disgusted. After researchers did deeper research about women who didn’t like it, the final result indicates all of them like it, but because of the views that women should have and what they are told all their lives, they feel disgusting when they first see the picture. Therefore, I think it could be because the society and the culture shape people’s views and feeling.

  5. I believe that men do separate love and sex more than women. The main word here is more, I do see it more from men but women can be the same way too. I mean many men and women just don’t want to deal with the whole relationship thing for many reason such as, there’s no time because of work or they’re just not ready for a boyfriend/girlfriend commitment. That’ when the famous, “Booty Call” comes in. Many prefer this because there is no commitment it’s just convenient. You just call a friend have sex and then you go your separate ways until the next time. I personally have known many women who want to have that emotional connection. I agree 100% with Candy about love first and sex after. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re both feeling the same way. Real love is always better than casual sex. You can get sex anywhere. I however agree that love and sex together is the best.

  6. I don’t necessarily agree with you Akta. Even if a woman in a committed relationship is the ideal sex partner – it is not a reason her man will not cheat. Men cheat, not all men – all men are tempted but not all men cheat. Sex is sex to most men whereas compared to most women – they want love and sex. I know for me, I wanted love and never gave into sex unless I felt the feeling was mutual from my partner. However, I have known some men to want open relationships – or be in open relationships, I could never see myself in that position. I asked my partner and his response was that he couldn’t bear the thought of sharing me with anyone, with another man or woman.

    • You said it well, Candy. Akta, I fought for the rights of women during the 1970s (what is now called the second wave of feminism) and I have to admit that I find it a bit disturbing that many women (some of them are my friends) still feel that women should always try to please men even if they don’t feel like it. I’m not a man-hater – I have been married twice and still think fondly of both husbands. I am, in fact, still in touch with my second husband. Living in a partnership in which you are afraid that your partner will cheat on you if you don’t please him whenever he wants sex is going to make you very miserable.
      Men don’t cheat because they aren’t getting sex from their partner. Men don’t cheat because they can’t help it. The men (and women) who cheat do it because they can’t be faithful. Temptation happens to all of us. This is not an excuse to say “I couldn’t help myself.” Cheating happens because of a character flaw. Cheating happens because a man or a woman knows or thinks that he or she can get away with it. And when they’re caught, the four words they say is “I couldn’t help it.” We all have free will and the saddest words I have ever heard is “I couldn’t help it.” If you are with a partner who cherishes you, that person will not cheat because they “need” sex and you are too tired to provide it. I promise you that.

  7. Since the huge factor is that women tend to love than use sex and men think the opposite and use sex over love. If it’s necessary for a man to have sex than the women should give in if they are in a committed relationship so that man cannot complain that he isn’t getting that so forth sex relationship. I am sure that no women in a serious relationship like any other woman to be an object in her partner’s life. So if it’s something that is affect her partner it’s her duty to take action. This will help the couple’s relationship in the long run to become stronger and affectionate.

    • Okay, I am not sure I understand exactly what you are saying here but the way I interpret it, you are saying that because a man needs sex over love, a woman in the relationship should just take care of his need for sex if she wants the relationship to be a strong one, even if she doesn’t feel like having because her needs are not as important as the man’s need for sex. If this is a good interpretation of what you wrote, then the thought is not complete because I would like to know what the man would do for the woman since she has a need for love over sex. How does he take care of her needs? Does he even know what to do to take care of her need for love? If I am wrong, please explain further. And when you say it’s her “duty,” what is his “duty” to her in return?

      • I just thought it would make life less complicated because if men are not getting that ideal sex life it may cause them to cheat on their partners and sooner or later she may find out. So if she is trying to be the bigger person by preserving her relationship with her partner she would probably be the best candidate to give in because I certainly don’t think she would like to hear that theirs another women in her partners life. Did that make sense?

  8. People always like to think that men are more likely to have sex without love and more likely to separate out love and sex. But it’s just because women don’t show that obviously like men. Men don’t mind if they are thought interested in separate those two things, so it makes the impression that women are not so interested in it like men. Actually, women just not showing so much like men; they can also separate love and sex, but they prefer to enjoy love without sex. It’s because that the way men and women think and treat things differently. Women like romance and live in romantic stories, so love is very important to them. Men like to enjoy, and they don’t care that much emotional stuff like women. This difference forms the two totally opposite ways that men and women treat sex and love.

  9. After spending 55 years on this planet, I am tired of what I call “commercial sex” – sex that is “in your face” all the time. It has made it very difficult for me to look at sex and say, “Yeah, I want me some of that…” The minute Brooke Shields donned a pair of jeans and the phrase “Nothing comes between me and my jeans,” Madison Avenue ran with it. Comedy series with double entendres and comedy series like “Two and a Half Men” (ick) that DON’T use double entendres have taken all the mystery and pleasure out of sex for me. I feel sad and discarded, like a used condom. I want to feel the way I felt back in the ’70s when I discovered sex and romance – not necessarily together. I discovered sex first – I slept with half of the MIT International Folkdance Club in Cambridge, MA. Then I began playing around with emotions and relationships. And I had fun. Now, I go home to my cat and she is the warm body I bed down with at night. I have to say, our relationship is a whole lot less complicated.

  10. Maybe men are just more likely to be honest about it. Otherwise, there are a few women who are getting one hell of a lot!

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