Wondering how to take your sex life from good to toe-curling, life-altering amazingness?
What’s love got to do with it? Well, study participants who loved their sexual partners said they felt less inhibited and more able explore their sexuality. “Women feel a sense of trust and respect from a partner when they feel loved,” says Montemurro, who writes about these and other findings in Deserving Desire: Women’s Stories of Sexual Evolution. “Many of the women I spoke with noted that trust was critical in feeling good about their sexual encounters. They didn’t want to feel they were being used.”
The Brain on Love
According to some research, the brain sets off a show of fireworks during intense sexual desire in much the same way as when we are feeling love for a partner. This suggests that sex is much more than just a primal need, but also a combination of emotion, goal-building and high-level thought. One difference, however, is in the part of your brain known as the striatum. This is where love outshines sex, because it also seems to provide extra motivation for the reward of feeling loved. Studies also suggest that sexual desire prefers the left side of the brain, while love culminates on the right. This would mean that your mind understands sex from a more logical point of view. Love, on the other hand, is more subjective. And I would not hesitate to say that the subjective view is better, considering that this means your brain recognizes love as something that’s all-encompassing, rather than a part or parts that lead to something all-encompassing.
Women’s Brains on Love
According to a sampling of women age 20 to 68, love is necessary for the maximum enjoyment of sex. According to their comments, it makes them feel more comfortable, less inhibited, and more likely to explore some of their deeper (and possibly naughtier) desires. And this all makes sense, considering that other research suggests that an orgasm for a woman can be as much as a 99 percent mental experience. I can already hear a few sexually frustrated women retorting, “But size does matter!” Yes, but here’s something interesting: Love may have the ability to boost a woman’s sexual experience because it improves her experience with a man. Without love, the experience is less mental, and it comes down to his equipment and technique. So great sex can definitely happen without love, but dare I say that a guy may not need to be as great when he has love on his side.
Men’s Brains on Love
There are several studies out that claim men fall in love easier than women. But sex may have a slightly different bonding effect. Sex is a brain cocktail of all kinds of feel-good chemicals mixed into one. It makes men and women feel happy, loved, and close to their partner. However, according to one study men receive a slightly lower dose of the bonding hormone during sex, and more of just the feel good stuff. What this means is that men can become attached to their partner, but in the eyes of science it appears to be a bit more like an addiction. So, when things get rough, and he can’t get his fix from his partner, he might be more likely to go outside of the partnership. This might explain why a man feels more guilt after cheating. For him, the action is more physical than emotional. When a woman cheats, it is more of an emotional decision, suggesting her feelings of love could be on a decline.
Love Speaks in Volumes
And it needs to be mentioned here that love is not a singular feature. Rather, it comes in many varieties and strengths. To be quite blunt, you can feel love for someone in one-fifth of a second, which kind of belittles all that beautiful stuff we’ve talked about so far. But that is only part of the story. There are two levels of love you can experience in your lifetime with a partner, including infatuation (young love) and mature love. Infatuation is driven by sexual desire, and in fact, the mere act of sex releases many of the same chemicals involved with young love. These chemicals help drive the feelings of love, whether or not you are truly compatible with your partner.
What we should really strive for one day is mature sex. Sounds boring, I know, but give me a chance to describe its benefits. Mature (long-term relationship) love has been said to lack some of those initial chemical boosters that drive sexual desire, but in their place can be a much greater understanding of love. This is when the right side of your brain has really figured everything out. In other words, rather than relishing in the chemical highs of young love (which often includes jealousy, lust, and infatuation), mature sex can be much more secure, confident and relaxed. Is young sex more exciting than mature sex? Perhaps, and this explains why some people prefer to leave their relationships when the newness wears off. But the benefits of mature sex could be said to be more satisfying and rewarding overall. Mature sex is great sex!
Great sex can be had at any stage of the game, but love can help expand on the many intimacies beyond sex, making mediocre sex—seem that much better.