Dr G. Hits the Spot: Sex or love?


Written by Gretchen Lambert-Wiltbank

Dear Dr G.,

I’ve been in a relationship for a while now. We have fun together, and the sex is incredible. In fact, I’m worried that the sex is what is keeping us together. I think I love him, but I guess I don’t know how to judge that. We don’t have a lot in common, but we get along fine. When it comes to relationships, I’ve heard that I can get a lot of my needs met through girlfriends and work and family, so I don’t need to look for one person who can fulfill all my desires. Am I crazy to think that great sex will keep us together? Am I settling if I stop looking for someone who is everything to me?

Let’s Get It On

Dear every girl on the planet,

You’ve asked two separate questions, so let’s answer them separately.

First, you asked if you are crazy to think that great sex will keep your relationship going forever. Well, yes. Quite frankly, great sex can be had for a long, long, long time, but it can be had with someone whether you love them or not. Great sex is chemical. Great sex is situational. Great sex is physical. Great sex is emotional. In a Venn diagram of great sex and love, there will definitely be an overlap, but there will also be areas of the diagram that allow for mutual exclusivity for those things. In other words, you can be in love with someone and have lousy sex, and you can be so-so relationship-wise with someone and have great sex. So, if you are asking me if great sex will keep your relationship solid and monogamous over the years, I’ll have to answer, “No!” Now, great sex coupled with other things, yes.

Let’s move on to your second question, when asked if you are settling if you stop looking for someone to be everything to you. To that, I say it’s ok for your lover to not be your everything, but if you rely heavily on friends, work, and family to cover your other needs, you may not be pairing up with the right guy. If you can find someone who is everything to you, then go for it. The all-in-one plan is a great one as long as you and what you like or need don’t change over time. But, we know that people and their sex drives change as they grow older. Keep in mind that, if you find your all-in-one but he doesn’t necessarily see you as his all-in-one, it is going to create quite a problem. We really don’t want to create co-dependence and call it love! Remember, balance is key in life and love.

What if you spend less time trying to find the best person for you and more time testing and trying out the people you currently have in your life to see if they fit your needs? It can be easy to forget that practice and testing is the most powerful form of learning and figuring things out. Love and relationships aren’t a hard science, but we can still use scientific methods to come to conclusions.

Gretchen Lambert-Wiltbank is a licensed associate mental health counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree in special education, and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. (“Dr. G” is her pen name. She isn’t a real doctor.) Get in touch with her at [email protected].