Can Men More Easily Separate Sex and Love?

lets_hook_up_full   Men usually get hooked into the passionate part of love first while women often need affection before the sex. At least that is what men think is true of women and women think is true of men.

As one woman reports, “When I say ‘I love you’ to my husband, sex is the furthest thing from my mind. But when my husband says ‘I love you’ it is usually when we are having sex.” Both sexes are trying to separate passionate from affectionate love. As a consequence, women are expecting men to use tender words to achieve their ultimate aim, sex. And men are expecting women not to proffer sex until they have heard the tender words.

The reality, though, is that men want the tenderness just as much as the sex and women get just as excited by sexual stimuli as do men 1,2.  What both men and women want is the same—the passion and the affection–all of it at the same time.

The hookup, which is a recent trend among high school and college-aged men and women, adds a twist to the way sex and love is seen.  A hookup is a one-night stand, with no commitment for future interactions.  It may include kissing, intercourse, oral sex, or no sex. 

In a survey of high school and college students, Laura Sessions Stepp (Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, Penguin 2007) found that men and women equally engaged in hookups, but that women regretted having sex during the hookup more than did men. 

Does the trend towards hookups, especially when they are fueled by social media and alcohol, decrease the chances of young adults learning the skills necessary for a lasting loving relationship?  Hopefully, further research will give us answers.

  1. Hendrick, S.S. and Hendrick, C. (1995). Gender differences and similarities in sex and love, Personal Relationships, 2, 1, 55-65.
  2. Fisher, W.A. and Byrne, D. (1978). Sex differences in response to erotica: Love versus lust, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 2, 117-125.




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