Sex or Making Love? Who Is Confused?

947907_76218223 Oh, my!  ‘Tis the snuggle season that’s for sure and several of my bloggy friends out there are bringing up the topic on everyone’s mind (or, at least, theirs)…sex. But is it really sex that is on people’s minds or is it romance, is it relationship, is it something else altogether? This post is a response to several other posts posted in the blogosphere earlier this week as well as my own personal convoluted thought path travelled in response to these various posts. 

A Tale of 4 Blog Posts

The first post found here at Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy, talks about the confusion that can arise between the terms “sex” and “lovemaking”. Go there read it and return more informed about some of the thinking that gave rise (no pun intended) to my own post (also no pun intended) here.  In a nutshell she poses a great many good questions on the topic with the ultimate being what is the difference between love-making and sex.

Add to that, this new blog friend  at To Be Determined who is traveling down the post-divorce single path with me, though at a much earlier stage in her life. Like me, she’s often wished there were some sort of dating rulebook.  Unlike me she still has her 30’s ahead of her and because of this her dating options are much greater than are mine though, admittedly, I am more fortunate in this regard than many. She also, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have the added complexity of trying to be a great mommy and trying to carve out time with another adult even if that time is merely coffee or a movie. Even so, my new friend at To Be Determined has dealt with the difficult issues and challenges divorce creates and I do wish I’d had her courage to blog more seriously and more intelligently about my own journey.  Kudos in a big way to her for doing that!

The third post, and one that rather struck a bit of a nerve with me is the one that jassnight at The Critical Path wrote today.  He talks about the nature of sex with older men, from the man’s perspective and he uses the really nice metaphor of running in the Master’s Division when competing in a marathon. He deals with how sex is viewed by men and how that view changes as men age.

And then, after all these ideas were simmering on the back burner of my mind, and as I was trying to find a quick easy recipe for those red potatoes I have in the fridge to go with the roast I’m attempting to destroy in the slow cooker (because, yes, once again, I am here with you and not watching the stove like I should be) I came across this most depressing thing. Of course, all the mom’s there are like, what, 35 and under, if that, but never mind.  This last site only served to make me ask myself these questions:

  • What defines hot?
  • Who’s deciding?
  • Do I qualify?
  • Do I care?

I won’t be answering those particular questions here in depth, other than to say: 

  • I have no clue what men think is hot. What I’ve heard from my male friends is all over the board.  This confuses me.
  • I don’t know who’s deciding.  I think I am.  I think I’m more interested in just being comfortable with me in my own skin.
  • I don’t know if I qualify as hot.  It always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to hear those words in reference to me.  (I’m sure if I was totally in love with someone and he were saying that about me I’d have no problem, at least, I hope not!)
  • Yeah, sadly, if I were to be honest, I think I do.  I also think I care less and less with each passing day, not in a give up sort of way, but because I’m finding so much more of value to care about. 

Things Are Different Over Here

j0400322 It is tough being female, over 40 and single in our youth oriented culture, even if you look great. If you look good, or average or worse than average (however you would define that and most women are much harder on themselves than they ought to be) things get tougher, that is, if male companionship of a physical nature matters to them.  It is tougher being female, over 40, single and wanting to experience a fantastic relationship someday before you die…or before you check in at the retirement home.  There’s just so much of life to share with another person and having another adult around, if the relationship is healthy,it is energizing and motivating.  Two people in a good relationship with each other can provide strength, encouragement, affection, intimacy.  They can spot each other when one needs a break or is facing stresses. They can encourage each other to be better than either of them could be alone. They can challenge each other toward optimum growth in all areas of life. They can be there to stave off loneliness and support each other during the rough spots of life.  They can build something together that is bigger than the both of them.  Something that connects to the people and world around them and which makes a positive difference to all. This experience, while rare, is still a good thing.  But how does it happen?  For the woman suddenly single in her mid-40’s, the struggle with self-esteem issues that naturally accompany divorce can be exacerbated by the fact that if her 40’s are nearly over her opportunities for love seem to be diminishing and the rumor is, well, 50 is a big number. Besides, when a man of the same age can effectively court, woo, seduce or whatever a woman half his age and many of them do, how’s she to feel about what she’s got to bring to the table?  Likely she’s got kids, responsibilities, a house payment, yard work, laundry and a job.   Sadly in our culture the chipped nails due to weeding and the dry, cracked dishwasher hands just don’t shout “Hottie!” to most passersby. Younger women often come with half this amount of “baggage” and much tighter firmer (or, at least smaller) bottoms too boot. 

If You Ain’t Hot, What Have You Got?

j0436490 In our youth oriented culture, we worship the exterior. This leads us to assess each other on the external factors in our lives.  We consider the quality of the cars we drive, the addresses of our homes, how neatly manicured the lawns are and whether or not the person has good job.  Others even make assessments based on what kind of job the person has. While we are greatly privileged with many choices in this country and the ability to chose possessions that we like and which reflect our perceptions of ourselves, does this mean that in every case the vehicle reflects the person?  Does this mean in every case that the job reflects the woman or man?  Does this mean that I am somehow inadequate, because my yard is not perfectly edged and my walkway needs repair? Am I my job?  Am I my wardrobe?

Let’s take this one step further, and address physical beauty.  What is beautiful?  What is sexy?  What is hot?  It’s a pretty common understanding that women’s standards of beauty are different than men’s.  This is where I believe the confusion, if there is confusion, arises.  Women and men see this topic differently and our image oriented society with the help of airbrushed and digitized perfect bodies doesn’t help do anything except further the notion that in order to have a great relationship you’ve got to look great first.

Does physical beauty impact the quality of the sexual relationship?  If so, how and in what ways? 

j0444284 I mean, really.  Let’s think about that logic.  If physical beauty were the pre-requisite for an incredibly mind-blowing sexual experience then how come people don’t just jump into the sack on this basis alone.  (Well, okay, maybe some do, but for the rest of us?) On the other hand, being attracted to someone is important too because there is that thing we like to refer to as “chemistry”. It doesn’t make sense.  Just look around.  We see couples every day in our daily pass through this life that are not extraordinarily good looking but who enjoy a good connection with a partner.

Or is the question more like what exactly determines attractiveness? And doesn’t that question have as many individual answers as people asking it?

Might I suggest, that physical beauty is a nice thing but, it is not the most important thing.

In the end, I think it boils down to what the individual is seeking in terms of relationship with another.  I think those individual priorities determine the level of attraction to another person and the quality of any sexual encounter if a mutual interest were to exist.

So, to go back to my To Be Determined friend’s questions as to where is the Dating Rule Book, I have to respond with there isn’t one because the dating situation is as specific as the two different individuals involved. There might be some broad brush rules of thumb but beyond that it really is up to the individuals to chart their own course and navigate their own way.

As for jassnight’s assessments at The Critical Path of men and what they hope for and expect as they age, I can only hope some of that is true. But, truth be told, I think what people look for, what people consider important and what people value is as individual as the individual’s themselves.  The difficulty is more a matter of coming up with a good fit between two people.

j0444035Regarding my friend, BLW’s post, about Sex vs. Lovemaking the same holds true.  I know she is not confused.  I know she is just posing the questions to begin dialogue.  Many, though, do seem to be confused. I don’t think any of us really are confused.  I think we all know the difference.  Sometimes we let good sex convince us there is more to the relationship than really exists.  Sometimes the lack of instantaneously mind blowing sex dissuades us from pursuing what might turn out to be a very loving, nurturing and lasting relationship. 

We all know when we’ve just “had sex”.  Even when it is “mind-blowing” sex, it is still “just sex” and we know it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. When we make love there’s an added ingredient or two or three, that can’t be orchestrated as the result of putting two good-looking people in a room and telling them to have at it.  It isn’t any of it based on what either partner is individually, but rather, on what the two of them are together, what they share and what they’ve created between them, personally, privately, intimately. When they make love the core of their union as people is expressed physically.  This doesn’t happen overnight. 

This doesn’t happen instantaneously.

It doesn’t happen with a revolving door of partners, at least, not from what most people who’ve told me they’ve had a revolving door of partners say.

It doesn’t happen outside the context of something important and meaningful and loving.

It takes time to build something of value and anything of value costs something in terms of time, dedication, commitment, devotion and caring.

Making love happens in the context of a loving, healthy, relationship where trust and commitment are key ingredients.

The rest of it is just great sex.

Where’s the confusion?

20 thoughts on “Sex or Making Love? Who Is Confused?

  1. After my last failed relationship it is impossible for me to countenance sex outside of a committed and loving relationship between two people. In that relationship I felt love on a higher plane than I had ever known it in my life and nothing less will ever be acceptable again. I thought I had found my soulmate when in fact I had been tossing pearls before swine. But I had something in my blissful ignorance that transcended by light years, any tawdry one-night-stand encounter or any other form of casual sex.
    I am finding out that the onliine dating scene is nearly a total waste of time. The desireable women on the dating sites are so deluged with emails that it is like trying to win the lottery just to get one to talk to you. The few times that one does answer me, she is generally distracted after one or two exchanges and I never hear from her again.
    I tried to connect with a longtime on again/off again online friend I had always been interested in, but she seemed to lose all interest in me after we finally met for our first date. Back to the drawing board. I have a feeling that it is going to be a long and frustrating search.


  2. Wow, thank you so much for the shout-out!!! you’re the best! I love this post, too, you offer some great insight into a variety of topics (some of which I haven’t tackled on my own blog, in some ways because family members tend to read it and the topic of sex might be “too much” for them!!). I definitely agree that there is a difference between “just sex” and “mind-blowing sex” and “lovemaking” – there is a huge difference between all three. I also think there is a difference between sex with love and sex without love…experiencing sex without love (recently…and when I say without love, I say it meaning, sure, there are feelings, but at this stage in the dating world for me, there isn’t love yet) is COMPLETELY different. It’s not bad, just different. Okay, that was a tangent, but again, thanks for the shout-out and for reading!! 🙂


    1. Jolene,
      Yes, I am loving your blog. It is making me reflect on my journey as I re-walk it with you so to speak. Our specifics might be different but our journeys are very similar. 😀


  3. Wow, clarity of copulation! Out of all of us Cat, I think you hit it on the nose. Relationships are as individual as a snowflake. No two are alike. This may be why so many are still searching. Do we compromise like so many do? Or do we hold out for that perfect union? That in itself could be a totally different post.

    As for Hot Hottie Hotness – again, very individualistic. However, you hit this one on the head as well. The only one who needs to think you are hot, is you.


    1. jassnight,
      lol! I don’t think I hit it on the nose more than anyone else, and I haven’t even gone over to read Nicki’s yet. Going there next. I think I just saw a different angle and went with it. You ask some great quesitons. I know what my answer is.

      You see, I think it is like matching widgets (for lack of a better term, put anything in here if you want). Each widget is different so no two will fit together perfectly but the widgets can really work if most of the components (ideas, values, beliefs, goals in life and ideas about the purpose in life, etc., chemistry, mutual respect and admiration, ability to play and have fun and laugh and so on) are present and compatible with most of the other components of the other widget. This is hugely oversimplified. What I’m trying to say is that people aren’t bad or meeting someone and finding out they are not a “fit” isn’t a bad thing, it just means you still have found the optimum combination. Personally, I’m not interested enough or desperate enough or whatever enough to give up all the things I am enjoying about my life now, just to enter into a relationship that feels like I’m settling or that feels like a compromise.

      The struggle sometimes is that our culture, through all the fairy tales, promotes a romanticised me-focused, idea of love and commitment. It’s another post I’ve been thinking about…how Fairy Tales are actually damaging, deceptive and destructive to the idea of relationship. I have to flesh this one out a bit, though. Sigh.

      As for the Hot, Hottie, Hotness factor. Yeah, the real deal is this, if I don’t feel good looking at me in the mirror every morning then I don’t feel good about that. It isn’t going to positively translate in other arenas. My standard of beauty for me, might not be yours, or Hollywood’s or the next persons, but I’m the one I have to face day in and day out. It’s just time.

      Anyway, great comments and thanks for the feedback.


      1. You have definitely hit the nail on the head as far as the Hot, Hottie, Hotness factor. Time and again – and I hate this as I hate getting dressed up for nothing – I have heard the age old “get dressed nicely and put your makeup on to go to the grocery store” so you can snag a man in the produce section.

        If you look good to you, you will project more confidence and that attitude to those you meet. It really does work wonders to like the way you look and be at peace with it. That does not mean – although you look fabulous – that you look great to everyone you meet but you look great to you!


    1. Nicki,
      Went right to your post and I have to say, it really got me thinking. I’m going to have to work on that post now. I’d like a mug from Gary. How do I swing that? 😀


  4. I am right there with you in that over 40 single woman area. Here is what I have to say to those first four questions you posed.

    What defines hot?
    I am not sure it matters what defines hot. Everyone defines it differently so the question should be your second one, who’s deciding. I will say that most men – whether 25 or 50 – find confidence to be somewhat hot.

    Who’s deciding?
    If you don’t think you are hot, it will not matter what he thinks or what others think. You have to be your own hot first, before being able to be someone else’s hot.

    Do I qualify?
    Okay, based on what I wrote above, I have to think I am hot as I do think that there are a couple people out there who think I am hot. LOL…how is that for talking in a circle?

    Do I care?
    I do care. I care because I am looking for an eventual relationship. I am looking for friends. I am always out there trying to meet new people so I have to care. Do I bend over backwards over what people think? No, not even in the hot area, but I do care.


  5. There have been a lot of changes in my life since I turned 40 but the biggest was the knowledge that I can still attract men, even when I think I look dreadful.

    Now that I am a lot closer to 50 than 40 and have separated from my husband, I can see things so much more clearly.

    We have to learn to love ourselves. We have this incredibly harsh view of our own bodies and, if you ask most men, they’re grateful to be allowed to snuggle up to that body no matter what its perceived faults in our minds.

    Doing HNT has helped me to see other bodies and the comments made on them. All the things that I hate about my body are beloved by some man somewhere.

    The key is to find the right match. As you said at the end of your piece, to be able to make love with someone is about more than good sex. It’s about love and trust and feeling beautiful.

    If a man can make you feel like that, he is a keeper. And dont settle for anything less just because you’re frightened of being alone. Half of nothing is still nothing. And having fought to hold on to a marriage and family life that existed only in my head, it sucks!

    Happy New Year to all us single ladies x


    1. Joanna, thanks for stopping by!
      Agreed on all points. I’m especially agreed about the finding the right match part. It is all about love and trust and feeling beautiful. Sadly, truth be told, and maybe I should blog about this, but I am less confident and feel less beautiful as the result of dating post-divorce in my 40’s (and I’m what most people, men included, consider attractive). This could be partly due to the nightmarish marriage I left, which is why I’m divorced, but I also think it has to do with the fact that there are just some really insensitive and unkind men out there and I happened to meet them.

      Also, I was just having the conversation about not settling with a friend of mine last night. Sounds like, just as much as sex, this idea of aloneness vs. a quality relationship is on everyone’s minds. Probably ripe for a post of some sort. Just musing…

      Happy New Year to you! And, again, thanks for stopping by and offering such thoughtful comments.


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