Can women truly enjoy sex without love? The simple answer is a big fat YES, depending on the individual and circumstances.
However, this answer is still widely debated. That's because women have always been portrayed as being emotional, romantic creatures who crave marriage and commitment and shy away from sex especially when it’s considered casual.
Of course, it’s hard to scientifically determine the answer to this question. Many people can’t even agree on what love or intimacy mean specifically, and each individual person is going to have different preferences.
However, one 2011 study from University of Michigan has attempted to break away from our preconceived notion.
Researchers concluded that when stigma and social constraints are removed from women, they are just as likely to want to engage in casual sex as men, which means sex without romantic love/attachment.
The problem that many women have is that there is still a stigma against women who engage in casual sex. For example, women may be afraid of “slut-shaming” if they accept offers for casual sex, according to the study.
Also, women are thought to be choosier in casual sex partners. But that’s also because men are brought up socially to be the aggressor, so they tend to pursue females more often than women pursuing men for casual sex.
As a result, women tend to be approached more often than men and as a result are choosier.
In addition, women were just as likely as men to accept casual sex offers when the pursuer was considered highly attractive, or the pursuer was a close friend who was thought to be a great lover.
“To me, this says that women don't seek out intimacy without love (casual sex) because there is a social stigma attached to doing so,” said Taylor Stokes, a sexuality blogger with the website www.freeyourv.com.
“That doesn't mean they don't enjoy it, it just means they are afraid of being stigmatized for enjoying it.”
Paulette Sherman, a psychologist and author of “When Mars Women Date: How Career Women Can Love Themselves into the Relationships of Their Dreams,” said in an email that many women are sleeping with men sooner in today’s society, and they also don’t require love or commitment.
“This may have changed because there's less stigma around it and women are more financially independent and marrying later (if at all),” Sherman said.
“Also, women are basing their self esteem on their work and other things instead of centering it just around an intimate relationship.”
Overall, a woman has to decide what kind of relationships she wants, and what sex means to her, she added. If she just wants to have fun, then there is not necessarily a need for love and commitment.
Lanada Williams, a licensed professional counselor, founder and CEO of Alliance Family Solutions, LLC, said in an email that she believes women have both emotional and physical needs. As a result they truly can enjoy sex without love.
She thinks that it may be easier for men to think of women as purely emotional, but that’s not accurate.
“Women and men should talk about sex as a way to flirt and gain a better understanding of safe sex practices,” Williams added. “The hook up should be that both parties have a mutual agreement, and sex is a great outcome.”
She added that sex without love is possible, and there are actually mental health benefits, such as stress relief and positive feelings.
But if there is a lack of communication including an absence of openness and honesty, there can be problems.
For example, it’s important to disclose your sexual history upfront. It should also be clear to your sexual partner if you’re looking for a long-term relationship and not just a one-time fling or casual relationship.
Lynn Gilliard, who is the founder and manager of the website www.friendswithbenefitssucks.com and author of “Why Doesn’t He Love Me?” said in an email that she does believe women get more emotionally attached than men do after several intimate meetings.
As a result, she stresses to women that love and intimacy/sex are not the same thing.
Although she does think women can enjoy intimate relations without love in the short-term, it isn’t satisfying over a long period of time.
In conclusion? It seems that some women are supremely comfortable with enjoying sex without love. It is also apparent that some women will form emotional attachments that can lead to love when they engage in sex without love, and things get complicated.
Which sounds like your way of responding? Or are you somewhere in between?
It's almost Valentine's Day, the day set apart for love, romance and sex. So on Valentine's Day — and every other day of the year — know yourself and what you want, as well as what you don't want. Don't let concerns about what others might think stand in the way of your happiness.
Conley, Terri; Moors, Amy; Matsick, Jes; Ziegler, Ali; Valentine, Brandon. Women, Men, and the Bedroom: Methodological and Conceptual Insights That Narrow, Reframe, and Eliminate Gender Differences in Sexuality. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2011. 20:296. DOI: 10.1177/0963721411418467.
Stokes, Taylor. Email interview. February 10, 2015.
Williams, Lanada. Email interview. February 11, 2015.
Gilliard, Lynn. Email interview. February 10, 2015.
Sherman, Paulette. Email interview. February 11, 2015.
Reviewed February 13, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith