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Making Love vs Having Sex: What’s the Difference?

While the terms “making love” and “having sex” are often used interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two—mainly, the level of emotional connection and intimacy. Here is an expert’s take on having sex and making love, and the role that both play in a relationship:

What Does It Mean to Have Sex?

Simply put, having sex is about a biological need. It’s possible to have sex with someone without experiencing an emotional attachment. After all, we’re human, and we’re hardwired to want sex! All you need is a physical attraction and desire between two people.

Of course, not all sex is void of emotional attachment. Some people are able to have meaningful sex without making love. That said, having sex is usually about fulfilling your individual needs, rather than the needs of your partner.

What Does It Mean to Make Love?

Making love is about a lot more than just a physical connection—it’s about an emotionally intimate connection to someone. While you can have sex with a stranger, you can’t make love because you’re not emotionally in tune with each other.

When you make love, you’re more aware of your partner’s desires and needs. You come together physically and emotionally. Unlike having sex, making love is usually a longer, more drawn-out process with intimate foreplay, touching, and eye contact. There is a sense of tenderness (even if you like it rough!) that’s not normally found in regular sex.

How Important Is Having a Connection When It Comes to Each?

To have sex with someone, all you really need is a physical connection. To make love, you need both a physical and emotional connection. There’s a common misconception that you have to be in love with someone to make love, but that’s not always the case! It’s possible to have a strong emotional and physical connection to another person without being in love. It’s all about your own unique relationship to sex and how comfortable you are.

Is There a Different Level of Intimacy Between the Two?

In short, yes. While there may not be an emotional connection when you have sex, there is definitely intimacy associated with it. (There’s nothing more physically intimate than having sex!) That said, sex doesn’t require the emotional intimacy that comes with making love. When you make love, you and your partner are completely in tune with each other, which requires openness, honesty, and trust.

Are Both Beneficial in a Relationship?

Yes! Even if you are in a committed relationship, you probably won’t make love every single time you have sex. While certain times call for making love (special occasions, anniversaries, etc.), there are also good times to just have sex. Whether it’s a quicky or you’re exploring a polyamorous relationship, having sex can be very beneficial. At the beginning of a relationship, sex is just that—sex. As your relationship grows, making love for the first time can be an exciting milestone!

Whether you’re having sex or making love, both are beneficial to any relationship. No matter which one is best for you, try new things in the bedroom, communicate your needs, and have fun!