Formspring: Sex without Love?

by Jason Stotts

Another question from a reader from Formspring:

What are your thoughts on relationships that are purely sexual in nature and in which there is no expectation of romance or dating?

This is a complicated question. From a moral standpoint, this can be done perfectly morally.  I’ve talked about the criteria for this kind of relationship before (see “On Polysexuality“), but briefly you need to be open and honest with the other person, share fundamental values, and make sure you don’t treat sex too lightly.  If you can pass these hurdles, then it can be moral.  (For more information on this, see Peikoff’s Podcast, #174 where he states clearly that as long as you share values, it can be moral).

Now, the treating sex lightly one is important as if you only ever have sex without there being a deeper relationship, then you can damage your capacity for intimacy and make it harder, or impossible, to really get close to a person who you do care about. This is the problem that some porn stars and prostitutes complain about, saying that they feel like sex doesn’t have that same kind of intimate connection for them like it does for most people and used to have for them.  Now this is less of a problem if you’re in a pre-existing relationship and you’re being non-monogamous, since you already have a partner you love and you have love and sex wedded together there.  If not, then you can still engage in a purely sexual relationship, but you need to be very aware of what you’re doing, how you feel about it, and work to make sure you’re not devaluing sex.

So, I don’t think they’re ideal, and I do think they could be dangerous, but they can be moral and in the right circumstances they can be very valuable.

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