HomeEmotional aspects of sexualityNon-sexual intimacyPlatonic love is just as powerful as sexual love

Platonic love is just as powerful as sexual love

When sexual performance is discussed, the sexual ego, bravado and general unpleasantness that is so often displayed is due to insecurities. Everyone wants to be admired, to be thought normal and preferably to be a good performer. But orgasm is a personal pleasure. It has nothing to do with providing pleasure for another person. Men are turned on by the idea of female arousal and orgasm because they need to feel that a woman appreciates and responds to their efforts during lovemaking. But achieving our own orgasm has nothing to do with the effort we need to make to please a lover. These are two quite separate things. A woman can easily please a man through sex but a man needs to demonstrate that he cares for a woman.

Men are attracted to people whose bodies arouse them. They need to ejaculate through penetrative sex to obtain the physical gratification that may give them a sense of intimacy with another person. So men promote sexual love. They think that love between adults should always be sexually motivated because that’s how they experience it. Yet many men disrespect the women they have sex with. Other men use sex to humiliate others. Men treat women like sex objects by refusing to take them seriously at work. In the extreme, a few violent men even assault women and cause serious injury or death in their selfish pursuit of the territorial conquest of intercourse.

Sexual love arises from the gratitude a man may feel when he enjoys physical gratification with a lover. Sexual love involves a man focusing on his own pleasure rather than responding to a lover’s needs. This kind of love only lasts as long as a man is enjoying regular sex. So sexual love is not as long-lasting as platonic love that is based solely on affection. Women do not have an arousal cycle. Nor do women experience sexual frustration or a need to engage in intercourse or any other sexual activity. Women do not need to achieve orgasm with a lover, in order to make an emotional connection.

Men assume platonic love is inferior for being sexless. They think that an unresponsive person might as well be dead. If a man spends time on romantic dinners or money on gifts, he no doubt appreciates that his efforts are not going to help arouse a woman. A woman appreciates these things because they are indications that a man cares about her welfare. This is the kind of platonic love (companionable and affectionate) that women value.

A woman sees a man foremost as a social person. Women do not love men for their sexual attributes. Women love men who they can rely on for moral and practical support. Women feel cared for because of the sexual love that men have for them. But this doesn’t make women’s love sexual. Women can enjoy feeling needed, admired and desired. Women can also enjoy pleasing a male lover by offering him regular sexual release through intercourse.

For women, the sense of emotional connection, the loving emotions and caring about someone else are achieved differently. For women, sex is not about functional biology but about caring feelings and emotional connection. Women can be more relaxed about enjoying sexual contact than men because sexual activity is less functional and needy. Lesbians are likely to benefit most from this female approach to sensual and emotional pleasuring.

Given their lack of arousal with a lover, sex is meaningless to women as an erotic activity. Women focus on platonic love, which relies on emotional intimacy that builds up over time by a person being consistently caring. Platonic love is about affectionate companionship and showing consideration for a lover. Women’s ability to care for a partner means that relationships involving women (heterosexual and lesbian) last much longer than relationships involving only men (male homosexual relationships), which focus on erotic pleasure, impromptu scenarios and a variety of lovers.

Women alone have little reason to embark on intimate relationships with other adults. Male sex drive is the trigger that initiates most adult sexual relationships. This may explain why lesbians often delay starting sexual relationships. If women behaved like men, adult relationships would be much shorter than they are. Women’s willingness to offer intercourse cements the relationships that men initiate for sexual reasons. Women’s desire for affectionate companionship allows heterosexual and lesbian relationships to endure beyond the initial passion and novelty of casual sex.

Women’s emotional bonding mechanism must be sufficiently enduring to motivate them to care for children over decades. This bonding mechanism stems from women’s nurturing instincts and has nothing to do with sexual rewards. The same instincts motivate women to provide what a male lover needs. Men’s emotional bonding mechanism is much weaker, allowing them to leave the family to pursue their own interests. Men love their children but very few men devote their whole lives to raising them. The opportunity to engage in intercourse is a key factor in motivating a man to return home.
Women get emotional payback in other (non-sexual) ways. Women obtain emotional rewards from demonstrating affection and by caring for a lover.

Men never experience these significant emotions, which is a loss they cannot appreciate. As with responsiveness, we only know what we experience personally. Women experience a nurturing love. Women want to share their lives with a companion who is interesting to be with and who is interested in them. Women see love as being about giving not taking. Women are motivated by their nurturing instincts and the opportunity to care for others.

Sex is only one way in which people give and receive love, so although it is very important, it is not the only way to develop or express intimacy. (Jonathan Lenbuck)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)