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The Difference Between Having Sex and Making Love

“I don’t know if we should talk about this…”

“And why not? Everybody has sex!”

“Yeah, but everybody should be making love.”

“Come on, how many guys do you know making love?”

–Salt N Pepa, “Let’s Talk About Sex”

In the past six months, I’ve had sex. I’ve been laid. I f*cked. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve made love, and I kind of miss it. Some people might argue that there’s no difference – physically, they are the same. But emotionally, passionately, and mentally, the two deeds are very different.

1. The First Time.

The first time you make love with your partner, it’s usually a very special moment. It’s often planned out in advance, especially in new relationships. There’s often sensual foreplay, and your bodies fit together perfectly.

If it’s your first time with a new partner and you’re just having sex, it may be spontaneous. Your partner may not be your boyfriend, or even your crush, and the decision to go all the way is frequently a hormonal (thanks, booze!) impulse. First time sex can be sloppy and awkward as you try to find the right position, and after everything’s said and done, it feels like there was something missing.

2. Your BAC.

I’ve heard of drunken sex, but I’ve never heard of inebriated love-making. If anyone has experienced the urban legend of wasted love-making, I’d love to hear about it.

3. The Setting.

If you’re about to copulate in a dim room filled with candles, on a bed covered with rose petals, you’re probably going to make love. If you’re going to do it in the backseat of a car, an airplane bathroom, an elevator, or another compact space that may have legal repercussions attached, it’s sex.

Al fresco sex/love-making is a grey area. Sure, sex on the beach or in the woods may sound like a fairy tale scenario, but dirt in sand in uncomfortable places can ruin the romance.

4. The Soundtrack.

Lovemaking songs include “The Fear You Won’t Fall” by Joshua Radin or “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones (or any cover version, including Mazzy Star, Jewel, or the Sundays). F*cking songs range from “Crazy Bitch” by Buckcherry to “Every Girl” by Lil’ Wayne. Do you really want to ride someone when the words “You f— so good I’m on top of it” blare from the stereo? Likewise, “Birthday Sex” by Jeremih is a bit tacky.

Sure, there isn’t always music playing when you’re doing it, but if you could have picked a song to illustrate last night’s mood, which would you pick?

5. The Aftermath.

Lovemaking includes mutual orgasms, followed by spooning and cuddling. If you’re in a relationship, your boyfriend’s post-sex behavior could include promptly rolling over and falling asleep, or the phrase “That was great,” despite the fact that you didn’t get off. If you’re single, you’ll take the walk of shame after a long night of sex. In those rare occasions that you’ve made love to someone without commitment, it could turn into breakfast in the morning, a few more rounds, and maybe even a new relationship.

In my opinion (and experience), it’s far more common to have sex than to make love. However, this means that when you do find yourself both emotionally and physically stimulated with a partner you care for very deeply, you appreciate the art of lovemaking so much more than that one-night stand a few months ago with whatshisname.

Any other differences between “sex” and “making love”? Share your thoughts below!

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