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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

The Relation of Love and Sexuality

As long as love involves concern for another, rather than only for oneself, it can enhance and strengthen family relations, groups, nations and humanity as a whole. The trickle-down effect from any level, tends to produce lasting beneficial changes and advances, that ultimately enrich relationships.

Many of the cultural achievements and advancements of humanity, are derivative of love and have been closely associated with poetry, song, music, painting, cinema, and intellectual achievements of many types.

Another special attribution of love, on a spiritual level, is religious love. The Western Christian tradition generally takes two forms: love thy neighbor and love God. Other religions have developed practices of the "mystical" love of God, though non-Christian religions, tend to place less or no emphasis on love of one's fellow-human. Love of “one's neighbor,” or of “those near to us,” those who associate with us, can be viewed as a credible extension of love in a human capacity. In other words, it could be an extension to the group, of love for another individual, related to the role of love as a socializing force, starting with the parental relation, though distinctly different from the intensity of other types of interpersonal love.


The relation between love and sexuality has been the subject of many discussions. Love's apparent inseparability from sexuality, has been taken for granted by many. Writers, such as Schopenhauer, have declared that "love is based on an illusion and represents what is an advantage to the species as an advantage to the individual. If Petrarch's passion had been gratified his song would have become silent from that moment... Every kind of love, however ethereal it may seem to be, springs entirely from the instinct of sex."

It is unclear, based upon the above, whether Schopenhauer himself ever experienced love, as distinct from sexual desire. The translator of the above remarks commented: "Plainly Schopenhauer was not the person to sacrifice the individual to the will of the species.” Apparently, one of his longest enduring relations with the opposite sex, was with a woman whom he had to compensate financially, after throwing her downstairs when he was annoyed by the noise she was making. Years later, the woman died and Schopenhauer reportedly commented: “The old woman dies, the burden is lifted.”

One would have expected a considerably different view from Sigmund Freud on the relation of love and sexuality, but it seems that he never directly confronted the issue. His theory of sexuality assumed that abnormal sexuality was, actually, normal, and normal sexuality was almost an "aberration" which developed from the abnormal sexuality:

The innumerable peculiarities of the erotic life of human beings as well as the compulsive character of the process of falling in love itself are quite unintelligible except by reference back to childhood and as being residual effects of childhood.... [I am] driven to the conclusion that a disposition to perversions is an original and universal disposition of the human sexual instinct and that normal sexual behavior is developed out of it as a result of organic changes and psychical inhibitions occurring in the course of maturation.

The above qualified by the unsatisfactory conclusion, that we essentially know far too little of the biological processes constituting the essence of sexuality, in order to be able to construct a theory that would be adequate to the understanding of normal and pathological conditions.

Roger Scruton(1985), in a sustained and wide-reaching study, Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation, effectively denies the evolution of love from animal sexuality by its paradoxical claim that human sexuality is totally different from animal sexuality (pp. 15-16, 34-35):

I shall consider the three basic phenomena of human sexual feeling: arousal, desire and love. I shall contend that all are purely human phenomena… sexual desire, like the human person, is a social artifact… the problem that worried Plato does not exist: there is no conflict or contradiction of the kind that he envisaged between sexual desire and erotic love… only a rational being can experience desire… sentiments that no mere animal ever felt.

In addition, Scruton quotes Kant (p. 83): "sexual love makes of the loved person an object of appetite... as soon as the appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside... Sexual love can, of course, be combined with human love and so carry with it the characteristics of the latter, but taken by itself and for itself, it is nothing more than appetite" – which essentially reverts back to Plato's distinction between Aphrodite Uranios and Aphrodite Pandemos.

Scheler's work, (1913) The Phenomenology and Theory of Sympathy and of Love and Hate, rejected the idea that love might be derived from "fellow- feeling" and also the relation between love and sexuality as the origin of "every kind of social instinct" - "a very questionable conclusion, for the very fact that bisexual animals possess the sexual instinct but do not all have the social instinct indicates their independence of one another" (Scheler 1913/1954, p. 175).

The current issue, is the relation of sexuality and love. Sexuality is not love, but it is often confused with love. The technology of sexuality has advanced, to stimulate, prevent, and distort the outcome of it. It would be prudent to observe, that in the present evolutionary period, sexuality has no very important positive consequences whereas love has, and has had, many positive consequences for human individuals and human societies.

The fact remains, that sexuality and drugs in the absence of love, generally leads to more sexuality and drugs without love in the next generation, and ultimately, to the progressive disintegration of family, society and humanity, as a whole.

Whenever it is apparent that a person’s sexual desire is predicated upon the physical need for sex, coupled with validation and stress relief, it is evident that sex, as an expression of love for the individuals involved, is absent. In most situations that involve sheer sexual gratification, it usually doesn’t matter much with whom the sex takes place. Anyone who thinks otherwise, is probably living in a dream world. As long as both partners are willing to satisfy each other’s needs, whatever they may be, things are fine. As soon as one or the other or both, determine it is no longer in their best interests to do so, things change, often drastically, and to the doom of the relationships. Nowhere is this more prevalent, than in purely physical involvements.

This is why, when relationships built upon sex don’t advance, it is usually because they are specifically based upon the physical gratification on one, the other, or both individuals. In addition, one or both parties may inevitably, begin to feel objectified, sometimes, because the sexual activity is being used to satisfy an addiction. This is because often, anything used outside of ourselves to relieve stress, validate, replace of “fill up,” can become an addiction. Addictive behavior is generally used to avoid dealing with life stress, and personal issues such as low self-esteem. It is easy to use addictions such as sex, food, drugs or alcohol, to temporarily alleviate anxiety, rather than deal with and confront fears and insecurities.

Any relationship that is based upon neediness, rather than real love, does not allow for the chance for it to be based upon an expression of love, because it is focusing on a way to relieve anxiety or fill emptiness, which does not allow for personal growth, let along for growth as a couple.

It is necessary, therefore, that anyone who has a history of addiction, to be aware of this, and be willing and motivated to do the inner work necessary to re-direct addictive behavior, so that it does not sabotage any efforts in the dating arena. Through that process, one can establish healthy connections and a spiritual source of love, rather than one based upon co-dependency.

Through learning to work with individual spiritual guidance, we can begin to heal any limiting beliefs that are the basis of feeling inadequate and unworthy. As we begin to discover the beauty within ourselves, it is then possible for the gentleness, integrity, creativity, and ability to care about others to surface. And that is the sort of person that will be successful in attracting and keeping healthy, positive interpersonal relationships.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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