Why sex and love need to be separated

Because we live in a society, where attachment bleeds into entitlement and rejection engenders self-flagellation, we have to rewire ourselves to treat sex more casually.

Updated - December 14, 2017 08:01 am IST

Published - December 13, 2017 08:32 pm IST

Sex is an activity you do with someone you want to. Love is a force that hits you like a rare ray of sunshine. Yet, we invariably mix up the two and expect one to lead to the other.

Sex is an activity you do with someone you want to. Love is a force that hits you like a rare ray of sunshine. Yet, we invariably mix up the two and expect one to lead to the other.

This is a blog post from

Years ago in ancient India, as a popular story goes, an exiled king waged a war with all of Lanka to get back his kidnapped wife... only to make her walk through fire to prove she was pure.

In another popular story, a prince who wins the hand of a princess through an archery contest, shares her with his brothers happily... until one of them puts her at stake in a gambling match and loses.

Even without considering that the first girl committed suicide and the second’s disrobing set off one of the biggest wars in Indian mythology, there’s so much fundamentally wrong with how men over years have felt entitled over women’s bodies — as a matter of right, even in stories where they have agreed to share her.

The Catperson short story in The New Yorker went viral this week because many connected to this modern tragedy of an almost romance that turned ugly.



The short story suggests that even the seemingly grown up mature “Mr. Nice Guy” who has been given charity sex, would snap back viciously at the possibility — let alone knowledge — that someone who ONCE slept with him now has simply chosen to sleep with another person.

Why has this thought bothered men enough to drive them to wars and/or suspicion? This sense of entitlement over women’s bodies stems from years of patriarchy and marriage — where a girl is expected to trade in her father’s name for her husband’s as a transfer of ownership. Hence, courtship — the period between the transfer of ownership — is where men test out this entitlement.

Safe to say, all modern dating — including dating-app-enabled courtships — fall in this window where women are looking for someone who would love them (in an environment where they have agency and choice) while men look at this as the archery contest where they need to hit the bulls eye with a smart opening line.

Most gender conflicts in courtships, hence, are a tussle between the modern woman’s empowerment (agency and choice) and man’s sense of entitlement (deep-rooted in our DNA).

When two people start dating, there are four major outcomes:

1. Boy likes girl but girl loses interest.

2. Girl likes boy but boy loses interest.

3. Girl and boy like each other.

4. Girl and boy don’t like each other.

Since scenario 4 doesn’t really lead to conflict and gets terminated early on, let’s look at 3 where the two actually like each other. Does this feeling last mutually over years? If yes, there is very little or no conflict. If no, we go back to the possibility of scenarios 1 or 2.

When boy likes girl and girl loses interest, the entitlement leads to a feeling of being jilted, directly linked to the girl’s freedom to choose her sexual partner. “This was mine. I had marked that territory and now it’s gone because the girl has no morals.” Or “Whore.”

When girl likes boy and boy loses interest, empowerment suddenly gives way to a feeling of being inadequate or bitterness/regret. “I let him in. He left after his need got fulfilled. And now, I can’t trust easily again.” Or “A**hole.”

The contract of sex implicitly binds people into an understanding of exclusivity in monogamous relationships unless discussed transparently at the beginning of the relationship. It’s the violation of this implicit contract of sex that leads to friction and conflict and the ugly ending.

Many women overlook the fact that monogamous relationships are a patriarchal construct too. The idea that a woman must belong to/sleep only with one guy has been deeply ingrained in a girl’s head that even women judge other women with multiple sexual partners.


Taps give water. You can quench your thirst from any tap. What if society made you believe that you have to drink from the same tap even if it’s dry or out of order.


“Mr. Nice Guy” or “Whore” are just arbitrary labels given to people on the basis of their fleeting behaviour or sexual appetite. It’s like calling someone a gentleman when they serve a girl before themselves and calling them a glutton when they are seeing enjoying their food — completely out of context of their lifestyle choices.

If deep-rooted patriarchal constructs and ground rules are leading to conflict, maybe it’s time to rewrite the rules. Maybe it’s time to treat sex as casually as you would treat food. Minus the judgements as hard as it maybe given years of conditioning. Personally, I have found transparency and freedom most liberating. I have never been able to fathom why a woman must have only one sexual partner when she is built for multiple orgasms and men are built for one at a time.

What if we got the hunter-hunted equation all wrong? What if woman is meant to be hunter and man the hunted.

Taps give water. You can quench your thirst from any tap. What if society made you believe that you have to drink from the same tap even if it’s dry or out of order.

Just going by design of the human anatomy and appetite, the woman could be the hunter. But someone, ages ago, sold an alternative fact — that men are the hunters and women are the hunted and sexual politics changed forever. Mostly because of physical power, brute force and the idea of conquest linked to bodies as reinforced by age-old stories. Rape of women derives from a primitive instinct of establishing superiority through physical subjugation. This exists all around us and the only way out of it is if we stop linking honour to bodies. The wars in most of our myths occur as a fallout of this malaise.


We are living in times when we can see marriages fall apart on one day and celebrate them even more grandly the very next day. Fairy tales are aspirational and everyone wants a wedding in Tuscany. True love is what everyone yearns for and bad sex is what they end up with. We are hunting for true love like it’s an address on Google Maps. No amount of asking for directions will lead us to this destination. Sex is an activity you do with someone you want to, when you have the appetite for it. This is subject to change on a daily basis. Love is a force that hits you like a rare ray of sunshine when you are at the right spot, irrespective of where you are or whom you are with.

Yet, we invariably mix up the two and expect one to lead to the other. When you consider that sex is a swipe away today, this confusion is further compounded because people do not know if they are options while treating others as options.

It’s a failed relationship only if you didn’t love each other (even if it was just for one evening). Else, it’s just a default on the forever term clause (implied by sex and made explicit by marriage). And it’s not cool if you put the forever clause without consent from the future you. But Time Travel hasn’t been invented. Yet.

It’s time we as people understand that love and sex don’t necessarily go hand in hand and start looking at these things as just needs.


It’s time we stopped judging polyamorous relationships between consenting adults or bicurious, bisexual or homosexual partnerships and made laws to recognise them as natural relationships and not unnatural acts. If we have learnt anything from history, it’s that we change. We evolve. Maybe we are at that cusp of change where we have finally identified patriarchal constructs as the problem. And are doing our bit one step at a time to get rid of them. Forever.

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