“Damn, is that all I get from you? ‘Bout to give me an attitude. You need to make love to me like you don’t love me.” ~Janet
When I was 16 I thought sex was love. Oh, hell, when I was 21 I still thought sex was love. Because both sex and love were so far out of my reach I found them both to be impossible, two sides of the same coin that was constantly flipping but never landing on either heads or tails. Sex was this physical thing, a squirming entity that couldn’t be wrestled down, and love was an emotional turmoil that was best left for others, namely adults. So sex and love and everything else anywhere near that territory was off limits for me.
That of course didn’t stop me from being curious. I did everything you can expect a teenage boy who had random access to the internet to do, and it was like a whole other world opened up before my eyes. I didn’t love those women but I sure did want to do things to them that wasn’t very Christian. Did that make me a bad person? A sex fiend? A (gasp) DEVIANT? I wanted to make sense of it, but I wasn’t going to talk to my mom about it. It was hard enough for me to talk to my mom when I needed a new kind of underwear, much less to discuss those kinds of thoughts that go through a teenage boy’s mind. And my dad, well, he was less than around. So I did more searches.
At the time things were pretty rudimentary on the web, a place where search engines like Alta Vista and Lycos thrived, but they didn’t give me any kind of real information on anything. They filtered through the 20 explanations available and gave me almost nothing in return. Any searches for “sex” only turned up the same photos I already had running through my mind, and offered nothing in the way of explaining the urges I had. It was times like those when I wished I had some kind of health class, but I had something better in some ways. I had an older friend who told me how he viewed sex and love.
“Sex is this thing that everyone says is amazing, but it’s only really amazing when you’re with someone you love. Of course love is pretty much impossible,” he told me, and I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? It was only later that I found out he was wrong, that sex could be enjoyable with a random person in the subway, that it was deeper with someone you love, but that it didn’t have to be this tandem bike you rode together with your lover. Love could enhance sex, and sex could enhance love, but both could exist apart from each other, and that was okay. I didn’t learn that until after I’d had sex for the first time. Maybe it’s true that you need to experience some things to really be able to talk about them.
So sex isn’t love. You can look those words up on Bing now, and you can find out that feelings are involved in both, that the craving for both can consume people whole, but they’re not the same. And that’s okay.