Love and Sex: Is It the Same?

February 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

Many researchers believe that love is primarily a chemical drive within in the brain, much the same as the drive for sex. If this were true, all those gushy feelings would be nothing more than a whim of the brain, a rush of the hormones, and a breeze up the leg. The concept of love and sex is not easy to differentiate consciously, so let’s allow our brains to do the explaining for us.

Dr. Helen Fisher, anthropologist and author of Why We Love, believes that love has evolved from its initial purpose of reproduction (sex), and consists of three different functions. The first function, sex drive, is designed to keep members of the sexes interested in each other long enough to procreate. The second, romantic love, is the drive to love one person at a time, creating the beginnings of family. The third is attachment, or what others call mature love. This kind of love ensures couples feel secure and happy, giving their offspring the best chance for survival, considering both parents stick around.

Love vs. Lust

Sex is a function of love. Love is a function of sex, and lust is only a function of sex. Lust is designed to successfully pair two genetic and chemically compatible adults with the singular goal of baby making. Once the act is complete, the lust diminishes, leaving sexual thirst quenched. Love, however, is a much deeper emotion that cannot be quenched by sex alone. In fact, the afterglow of sex often intensifies feelings of love.

Love is a chemical bond between two people, driven by compatible genes and dopamine production in the brain. The dopamine produces feelings of euphoria, happiness, and pair bonding. In its early stages, love is like a drug, producing feelings of infatuation, jealousy, and sleeplessness. Most people would say these feelings are not true love, but rather a chemical high created by the brain to ensure motivation to continue connecting with the interested party.

Studies show that primitive love (infatuation) lasts anywhere from one to three years. During this time, lust and sex are still very much a part of the relationship, but love must eventually mature. Sex can help prolong feelings of young love, but if a couple does not become attached, developing a mature bond, the partnership will suffer and one of both partners will likely find a new love, and the cycle will repeat itself.

Brains Choose Love

Sex is one of the main drives for human survival. However, research suggests that the drive for love is the more powerful emotion. This makes sense from the standpoint of a successful species, as the creation of loving families provides a better chance for survival, than lustful, sex. Research with magnetic resonance imaging, shows that couples newly in love appear to be most affected by the parts of the brain associated with motivation and reward, more so than the parts associated with lust and sex.

Research using brain imaging has also discovered that while looking at the photo of a loved one, the brain exhibits more complex functioning than when looking at an attractive member of the opposite sex. Scientists believe this suggests the bond of love is more important (powerful), and is one of the reasons that couples remain faithful through constant temptation. Even more interesting, was the finding that the more “mature” a love was, the more complex the brain’s functioning was.

The brain can be fooled into thinking sex is love, however, as studies show dopamine is also a byproduct of orgasm, which means sex triggers feelings of love. This is one of the dangers of a one night stand, as it can bring about powerful emotions for someone, when true chemistry is nowhere present. This is also one of the secrets to keeping mature love youthful, by constantly refreshing the brains natural love chemicals through regular intercourse.

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

Brain imaging studies suggest love and sexual attraction overlap somewhat, sharing a portion of the same brain function. The most significant point to remember, however, is that sexual attraction is concentrated in the left side of the brain, while romantic love registers more on the right.

If you remember from your grade school science class, the left brain is logical and rational, while the right is random and subjective. The left brain analyzes the world from its parts, organizing the pieces until the “whole” makes sense. The right brain begins with an understanding of the big picture (whole), breaking it down until it also understands the meaning of its individual parts.

You can interpret these findings anyway you like, but clearly the brain understands a difference between love and sex, preferring love, whether the conscious mind does or not. When you labor under the rule that sex is the only logical outcome of a relationship, you stifle the possibilities of love. Set your right brain free. Enjoy the giddy, reckless sensation of one of the greatest emotions life has to offer. Your brain will thank you for it!

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15 Responses to “Love and Sex: Is It the Same?”

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  1. Xexo February 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Eric its full of care to all of us , actually i thought to be in love with some one is not just for to be in sex.. This may be wrong for others but i have faced it during my days not just my brain had done difference my whole time was doing such difference any way i like ur article welldone


  2. alima January 16, 2014 at 2:28 am

    when talking of erotic love you cant completely leave sex outta it ,lets not pretend you cant forever be with a man or woman whom you know will never be able to have sex with you even if not good sex but u just need it


  3. Jonas July 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Lust and Love are two different things. If you’re really in pure love, you just like the person’s presence, not their physical attributes. Lust (Sex) craves sex, and head is empty. Love , is so much different. It craves conversation and head is expansive.

    Sex can never compare to Love.

    Love is the best thing on earth. If you can give up sex to be with the person you like, it is love.


  4. Johnkingsley April 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    love is strong emotion that goes beyond just having sex. Thus sex reshapes and add colour to a serious relationship.when someone professes love; it means the willingness to give the body, spirit, soul.sex is the function of the body professes.when you make love with the person you love, you create an indelible memory in the persons mind. humans
    is a creation of love and as such can not escape from it.


  5. jessica ifechukwu November 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Sex is not love


  6. Peppino771 October 16, 2012 at 3:14 am

    i seems to have a different feeling in all , because i seems to Love intimatly with all women i ever gotten in contact and had sex with,but they seems not to stay, broke up with minor problems, but i try to win them back not bcos of sex but i always feel i care i love,And there are women who only enjoy sex with me but dont wnt to be loved and care for


  7. demosco February 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    It can be if you are in the right relationship. You have sex to show that person how much you love them. But in alot of cases it is just lust. Sex is just fornication, Love is caring One can have sex without love, example is a prostitute who will have sex for money. Love is something you cannot buy with money. You can have love without having sex, although love + sex is better for a relationship to prosper


  8. Kudzi October 13, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Wow thank you.this is something else love,sex and lust
    i believe that you can love without sex and sex keeps us going in a relationship and you can have sex with someone you don’t love at all and thats lust to me.


  9. Rose Cocca May 31, 2011 at 3:38 am

    wow.is this what love is about…to be in love is the same as having someone in your..heart.and not in your bed….having sex does not mean you love the people…it is being true..understanding…taking care of her..always being there for her..that is love…love can mean anything..love for a dog..love for a husband…love for family…that is love..not in love…in love means truly being in love..which ids more intense then love…now what about sex..having sex just to have a baby is not love..it is lust…sometimes having sex with some one feels like love..IT IS NOT..I JUST LUST….MANY GIRLS ARE HAVING BABIES WITH THEIR HUSBAND..and is not lust..that is love….some people dont know the meaning of love…they thing it all having sex..wrong…i must had a boring life because my guys didnt know sex or lust was all about..and still i had a lot of fun…i not saying that sex is bad..im just saying that life cant be involue with only..sex…are you telling me you are having sex with blue..just for lust…THAT IS THE SICKEST THING I EVER HEARD…I RATHER BE WHAT I AM THEN BE IN LOVE WITH SEX AND LUST..IM HAPPY THE WAY I AM..THEN YOU DONT KNOW ANY THING ABOUT LOVE…IT IS JUST SEX…


  10. Marie Elaine Cook February 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    As I understand it, sex is the bridge that connects man and woman together. As humans, we cannot escape the fact that our spirits mingle when we make love; we do not just “have sex”, we MAKE LOVE.
    The spirits are involved and the bond thus created is sacred. Trying to deny this fundamental truth is denying our humanity. Let us respect that.

  11. Jacqueline
    Jacqueline February 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Hi Eric,
    What an interesting article this is a start on trying to diagnosing the meaning of why we love or why we have sex with those who we do, even the connection within.
    Other areas that will start to become more relevant in scientific study is the energetic connection, these areas need to be a factor in the equation.

    I agree with you Eric we need to just enjoy the process of falling in love, it can so rewarding and fun.

    Blessings and Big!
    Jacqueline x9472


  12. Hands Yusuf February 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

    i would like to thank you about all the messages,youve sent to me about love,i do apreaciat,,thx,my coment….i like it,,i realy like it.


  13. nazia February 4, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I love this article!

    “Love, however, is a much deeper emotion that cannot be quenched by sex alone.”- Something straight from my heart.

    “…but clearly the brain understands a difference between love and sex, preferring love, whether the conscious mind does or not.” Oh yes.

    Thank you Eric. Very, very well written article.


  14. Leisha Gibbons February 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    COOOOOOOOOOOl love this article


  15. Jai Krishna Ponnappan February 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Very well researched and written, Eric. Goes to show that Science with all its intellectual and logical capacity to cater observation, experimentation, reasoning, invention and innovation is barely able to scratch the surface of Love that manifests itself as an alive and organic emotion. The Science of the Soul and the dynamic manifestations and workings of the Spirit of Love are truly the very foundations of not only all wisdom, knowledge, sciences and creation but also the very source that gels together all of non existence. If you read some of the latest research and scientific advancements published by leading authorities around the world, especially in the fields of astrophysics, mathematics and allied bodies of knowledge, you’ll be startled at how beautifully deep and ineffable some of the dead end questions and concerns of the ever expanding laws of Science are. You must treat Science and rational thinking as a powerful and blessed tool meant to be used with a contrite, humble and sincerely seeking heart. Its blessings and promises are many. The world we live in is living testimony to all that its gifted ways promise however much certain men may corrupt and abuse it. Love is not just a Spiritual quality it is a fundamental Truth. Every Soul is always deserving, capable and worthy of partaking in the never ending blissful joys of its limitless mysteries. Let the Spirit of Love come upon you like a spark that lights and eternal flame that burns forth the fire of never ending knowledge.

    Many Blessings, Wisdom, Peace and Knowledge to You ALL. Know Love and you’ll Know it ALL

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