My first thought (and perhaps yours) is: “Why do you think you’re qualified to write about this!?” I’m not. I’ve had my brushes with the grey areas over the years, and let’s say that at times maybe it refreshed my memory, but I haven’t been consistently, romantically, lovingly involved with somebody for nearly a decade. So am I an expert on the fine art of love-making as I feel I was for hooking up? Fuck no. But I’ll give it a shot anyway, maybe I can paint an ideal, unrealistic picture for us all!
So what’s the difference between sex and making love? Rose petals? candles? magic? No, not really. It comes down to comfort and trust. Yep, that thing I’ve talked about as being dangerously bad in the past is one of the defining differences between hooking up and making sweet love. Trust is a given, if you don’t trust your partner, you have no business being with them and claiming you love them. In my experience, even if you don’t automatically trust the person you love, you choose to. So with that in mind, if you trust your partner mentally and emotionally, it seems reasonable that physical will follow. Especially when the element of communication is present. As I’ve said, that’s pretty essential for any sort of good sex, but if you don’t communicate properly with the person you’re supposedly in love with, it’s going to severely dampen you sex life (along with your relationship.)
Comfort is a double-edged sword. When you grow emotionally comfortable with somebody, the personas you put out to the outside world (including those you may have hooked up with) strip away and you feel good about showing / giving yourself to somebody completely. Exposed, vulnerable, honest, raw. They get what the hookups don’t, they get all of you. Getting naked and getting off with somebody is easy, letting them have you with all your mental and emotional defenses down and trusting them to do right by you is much, much harder. Making love is (and should be) a physical metaphor for your entire relationship: physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual. Over time though, that comfort can easily fall into taking each other for granted. Even the act of making love can begin to feel mundane over a long amount of time and lose the very thing that differentiates it from simply hooking up. It’s a fine line, balanced properly by effort, communication and dedication to satisfying each other’s needs. The physical aspect of a long-term relationship must be maintained as much as any other aspect, or it can just as easily end said relationship as anything else. You’ve pledged yourselves to each other for the long haul, that means taking care of all the needs you can for them.
Don’t get me wrong about magic either, when you’re in love with somebody the magic is (ideally) in everything, especially at first. But the magic is the love itself. In the beginning.. the “honeymoon phase” the newness and excitement makes this magic almost automatic, but once that fades it takes some level of work to recognize, appreciate and make magic. You have to make love. Perhaps that’s where the term comes from as many of the more romantic (and in my opinion misguided) belief systems consider sex to be the ultimate expression of love. While that’s utter bullshit, it makes a decent point in reinforcing that the physical certainly is important as a balanced form of expressing your love physically. In my experience, the special someone will always have that pull, the intangible, explainable thing that draws you to them, but it’s up to you both to recognize and elaborate on that. Part of loving somebody is being dedicated to exploring and nurturing the magic that you have with them, and that very includes the bedroom. If it doesn’t… well then you fall in the very large percentage of people who do what they feel they have to on the side. It doesn’t meant the love is gone, but it means something has fallen to the wayside on a physical level at least (if not other levels as well.)
So, what about non-traditional situations? Threesomes, Orgies or just open relationships? I’m not going to go into Polyamory or other alternative relationship situations because this isn’t about the relationships, this is about the love-making within the relationship. Can people really be in love with multiple people equally? Yeah, probably. But let’s talk about that some other time. In the meantime let’s start with three or more people since I’ve got some experience with this. First of all, this is by no means wrong or bad for the relationship as long as both people are totally open and honest with each other. This keeps misunderstandings from happening and allows ground rules to be set if necessary. Done properly, adding an addition person the mix for a couple to share can be very exciting and fulfilling. The key is that both partners are equally interested in the situation and they regard the third person as a toy for them both play with. The third person should also be very clear about their role, and honestly would rarely complain. In my experience, the threesome+ itself is exciting, sexy and even satisfying, but not making-love. It’s more like the couple as a singular entity are “hooking-up” with another person. It’s recreation, fun, sexy recreation for all parties involved. The nifty side-effect I’ve noticed is that such situations usually result in a second, more connected “love-making” session a bit later on. Call it reconnection, reclaiming, whatever. It’s probably just because the threesome highlighted the contrast between hooking up and making love enough for the couple to crave the added intimacy.
As for open relationships, the best way to explain this is simply that when those in love are with each other, they have that greater connection and intimacy that is making love. When they venture out and see other people, they are just plain fucking. It’s like masturbating, but better because it’s always better when somebody else does it. Obviously this sort of situation requires that the couple not be possessive of each other physically and have spectacularly good, straightforward communication (both of which are much harder in practice than in theory.) This maintains the necessary trust along with the obvious need for open communication among all parties regarding healthy sexual practices. I absolutely must point out that love is not possessiveness. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want your partner all to yourself, but if somebody isn’t physically possessive, it doesn’t mean they don’t love somebody, it just means they have drawn a clear line in their mind between making love and hooking up. I’ve heard people say in the past that they like it when their spouse/partner gets jealous because it means they love them. Fuck that. Jealousy isn’t love in any way, shape or form. It’s about possession and nobody owns anyone. A good relationship is when two people want to give themselves to each other and share their lives equally. Ownership has nothing to do with it. Ever. So with that said, while jealousy is natural, it can also be controlled and mastered, and if that’s the case, then a loving and open relationship is certainly possible.
So what is “Hooking Up”? Two (or more) consenting adults happily get naked and do sexy things to each other until they end up in a happy heap of post-orgasmic bliss. What is “Making Love”? Two (or possibly more) people come together without barriers, personas or presumptions and give themselves to each other mind, body and spirit. They truly connect on multiple levels and and express their total desire to share their lives with each other. Hooking up is great when done responsibly, but making love is a rare treasure on a whole different level.