So flaccid. So precious. It’s the kind of thing you’d hear from a guy who keeps his socks on during the act— missionary only—then asks if you’re okay afterwards. Make love to me? Ew. No thanks. You can f*ck me, or you can see yourself out.
Love and lust always seemed separate in my mind. ‘Love’ was what you had when you walked hand-in-hand and made starry-eyed plans about the future. ‘F*ck’ was what you did when you were feeling carnal, unable to keep your hands off of each other. Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking my stance on the whole thing. Maybe it’s because I’m now in a nauseatingly healthy relationship, or because I just have a fondness for all things ’70s (funk music, going braless), but I now like how ‘making love’ rolls off the tongue.
It’s evocative of a time before Botox, Brazilians, and vaginal rejuvenation—when the best-selling manual The Joy of Sex gave a generation instructions for ‘advanced lovemaking’, complete with illustrations of hirsute, lusty couples getting it on, free from any concerns of measuring up to some external standard of beauty set by society. Of course, the phrase couldn’t last. As our sexual culture opened up, ‘making love’ began to sound downright corny—the province of old movies (Woody Allen, anyone?) and old-guy classic rock (I’m looking at you, Bad Company).
As sex positivity became mainstream, it wasn’t necessary to euphamise the act—no, on the contrary, sex became something we talked about in upfront and graphic terms...and became all the better for it! These days, though, we may have swung a bit far that way. Hook-up apps make it possible to reduce the acts of dating and casual sex to a joyless grind. Internet porn is so ubiquitous, it’s set bizarre and misogynistic standards for both our appearances, and what we do in the sack.
Many women now see ‘facials’ and anal as expected items on the sexual menu, whether or not they like it. In short, there’s very little reverence for sex these days. “There’s something to be said for raising up sexual unions, even the casual ones, to a level of sacredness we don’t often see in today’s pop culture,” says Lo Sharkey of duo Em & Lo, authors of 150 Shades of Play. “F*cking and making love should not be mutually exclusive.” Who knew? Making love isn’t just gimmicky sex in a champagne-flute-shaped jacuzzi (although The Bachelor suggests soft lighting and red roses touch a romantic nerve for modern women).
You don’t even necessarily need to be in love, adds Carol Queen, author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex For Everyone. All you need, she says, is “to think that sex is a good thing in the first place and it’s okay—indeed, an honour—to share it”. Maybe it’s just about really drinking in each other’s bodies, taking your time with foreplay and the deed itself, and focusing on both of you getting pleasure...while some Miguel happens to be playing on someone’s iPhone.
Who could argue more foreplay (studies show many women need at least 20 minutes of foreplay to become fully aroused and ready for sex) isn’t a pretty cool idea? I’m not the only one reviving the old-timey term. Chrissy Teigen recently laid claim that “the very best part of being married to John [Legend] is making love”.
Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu described the process of shooting his movie Birdman as “making love, for sure”. New website MakeLoveNotPorn.tv has sex videos of real people, not professional porn stars, because “the sex we have in our everyday life is the hottest sex there is”. So go on, give ‘making love’ a try. Worry less about the aesthetics, focus more on your connection. Make a little more eye-contact, allow for humour and sweetness. You just might find lovemaking is the sexiest sex there is.