Sex talk
Speaking of Love

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Well, OK, maybe sometimes love isn't all you need, though it sure is great. Certainly, the search for lasting love is an obsession for many of us. Who wouldn't want to be the Most Important Person on Earth to somebody else?

But love and sex are intimately interrelated, and in the meantime, there's the matter of hard dick to be taken care of. "I'm horny all the time," says one lascivious lad, "and, not to sound conceited, I have no problem getting laid. But down deep, I think I'm hungry for affection, not just cock."

If you ask 10 men about the dividing line between lust and love, odds are you'll get 11 different answers. "People's emotional needs are complex," says one psychologically savvy observer. "Sex – at least on the surface – seems a lot simpler. Straight culture still frowns on having sex within the first few minutes of meeting someone. But many queer men do just that, kicking things off with a bang. And the intensity of a really great lay can convince just about anyone that he's 'in love.'"

Obsessive infatuation, which generally involves a hefty sexual component, can indeed blossom into a deep, abiding love. Often as not, though, crushes collapse over time, while love – at least in theory – lasts.

Part of the problem may be the romantic notion of having a "one and only." There's a tendency to confuse the buzz of pre-orgasmic bliss with a unique emotional connection. As one man who plays the phallic field says, "I fall in love real easily. I can – at least for a little while – feel love for just about anyone I'm having sex with. That doesn't mean I want to pick out wedding rings. I just want to suck his dick."

Much of what makes long-term love work also makes for great sex: emotional generosity, sensitivity to your partner, willingness to compromise, and all that good stuff. Someone who's a selfish sex partner is unlikely to make a good long-term mate, however cute he may be. And then there's the strategy of saving oneself for that someone special. While there's no particular glory in whoring around indiscriminately, insistent horniness can make some abstinent guys think they're more in love than they are – or at least to act that way, so they can eventually get into Mr. Right's pants.

Real love, like good sex, can be scary, entailing a lowering of the barriers that separate us from one another. It can be comforting, too, making guys feel safe and needed. Emotions are messy and complicated, and it's tempting – particularly after having been beaten up by Cupid once or twice – to take shelter in depersonalized sex and emotional armoring. For gay guys, who may also have to deal with homophobic hostility from society at large, things can get even stickier. Our psychologically savvy counselor puts it this way: "A man who thinks, deep down, he doesn't deserve to be loved, is liable to sabotage himself in a variety of ways, be it drinking, drama-queen behavior, or having dangerous sex."

One need not buy into Valentine-card soppiness to feel affection for those who fellate us, or to treat other gay men lovingly and well. Treat every trick like a potential partner...without assuming he'll actually become your boyfriend. It's a dandy way to go through the world – being vulnerable enough to care about others, but smart enough to minimize hurting yourself. And it's good practice for if and when Mr. Right does show up.

Because love is, indeed, grand.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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