Sunday, November 15, 2009

The "L" Word

All right, Knox Galen, this one's for you.

Galen and I have been having a friendly little back-and-forth in his recent blog post about some guy with a posse of married fubus. A back-and-forth that has leaked over into the Comments Section of someone else's blog , where the author asked:

"May meaning pa rin ba ang sex na walang love?"

Since I have started a conscious effort not to hog someone else's Comments Section with my lengthy opinions, I thought it might be best to just put it up here on my own little corner of the web.

So many of us often mistake Lust for Love. These are two very different four-letter words. But because of the similar effects they have on us - giddiness, excitement, the anticipation of pleasure - it's an easy mistake.

Offhand, I find that it's a mistake often made by the young. Back in the day, I, too, mistook the temporary intimacy of sex to mean something more. Because even the most hurried and anonymous of sexual encounters remains an act of intimacy, no matter how fleeting or shallow.

It takes the school of hard knocks to teach us that this thing may look like that thing, but they are not the same thing at all. To paraphrase the great Woody Allen: "Lust relieves tension. Love causes it."

Sex is sex. Love is love. When the 'twain meet, 'tis truly a special thing. But that's what lovers - in the true sense of the word - are for. Someone who stimulates your heart, as well as your loins.

To seek a deeper meaning in something that is essentially superficial and shallow as a one-night stand is to seek disappointment and even heartbreak. It's a fool's errand, a Quixotic quest. You could sooner find decency and morality in Malacanang.

Tina Turner sang it best: "You must understand/ Though the touch of your hand/Makes my pulse react/ It's physical/Only logical/You must try to ignore/ That it means more than that."

What's love got to do with it, indeed?

But how can you tell the difference? Like wrinkles, I just assume it gets easier with age. Or maybe the wrinkles were there all along and, ironically, one's failing vision leads one to discern them more acutely.

I have few things against ONS apart from people cheating on their lovers and the increased potential to transmit, catch, and spread disease. They serve their purpose:  the release of sexual tensions, a primal need satisfied. I'll allow that sex for sex' sake can leave one feeling empty and used , but I imagine it's akin to having a hangover after one beer too many. You feel horrible, you feel drained, you feel sorry. Or like the inevitable crash after a party drug high - after the thrills come the chills.

All excesses are bad for us. An excess of piety leads to religious fanaticism. An excess of critical thinking leads to nihilism. Playing musical beds is a lot of fun, but even the most energetic among us will eventually get exhausted - both physically and emotionally - from all that hopping in the sack.

Also, while having sex on tap sounds like a fantastic idea, we soon find that it gets really boring, really fast. As Robert Browning wrote, some things we reach for were meant to exceed our grasp, else what's a heaven for?

I can only suppose that's why you find sex without love so meaningless, dear Galen. But meanings are relative constructs, not universal truths. Perhaps "empty" is the word we're looking for, because shallow as ONS are, beneath the surface, they actually do have meaning. They might even have many meanings that can overlap. A married man getting his dick vaccuumed by another man can mean that his wife doesn't like giving head - or that he actually prefers a man to give him head, or that his marriage is in trouble and he is seeking intimacy elsewhere. Or the meaning could be something as simple and mundane as "You're the only mammal with a pulse who was available tonight to suck my cock."

I'm happy that you try to seek meaning in the things you do and the things others do to you, or with you. It's one of the things that separate us from brutes: the ability, nay, the need to make sense of things around us. In your original post, you opined that "It must be a very sad life." whenever PLUs look at other PLUs only as potential sex partners. I'll agree that anyone who reduces everyone else to mere sexual objects to be conquered, used, then discarded is sad in very many ways, but then again, that's just our opinion. The meanings he attaches to his interactions with the world may be worlds apart from ours. I've met enough sociopaths in my life to know that some people are truly bereft of conscience, empathy, or regret - that's what makes the world a fascinating and dangerous place.

We do seemingly meaningless things all the time, Galen. If I flick my cigarette butt onto the sidewalk instead of bothering to find an ashtray to stub it out on, the act might seem meaningless. A casual toss, the physics of an object hurtling through space, inevitably subject to the non-negotiable rules of gravity to fall to the ground and lie there until acted upon by another force. But the meanings are many, if we bother to think about them. It could mean I wasn't raised well enough to be mindful of the cleanliness of my surroundings. It could mean I was raised right, except now I don't give a damn. It could mean a moment's flippancy, a temporary lack of judgment. Meanings can be many and can vary.

So if casual sexual encounters are so sad and meaningless, why do we indulge in them anyway? I don't believe we actually seek out pain and heartache, emo or no emo. So they must mean something. But what they mean depends on the meaning you give them.

To go back to your original post, I maintain that ONS do have a meaning. But that meaning varies. What means something to me may not mean anything at all to you. And even if we both agree that something has meaning, that meaning can be totally different for you and me. While there are things that possess intrinsic meaning outside of our personal perceptions, others - like the things we do with ourselves and others - derive their meaning from us. We give them meaning - or none at all.

And as for sex without love, let me leave you with this little number from All Saints. For all of us, who are no saints.

Bootie Call : To call someone to invite them over JUST for sex.


  1. an action is only as good as the meaning you give to it.

    of course, a lot of grief can be avoided if you chose not to give meaning in the first place.

    whatup mustard?

  2. @ E.W. : Est qui/quid est. It is what it is.

  3. Wow, a full blog post! Some boys try to find romantic meaning (and possibilities) in random sexual encounters and they are totally missing the point. Sex is sex and its meaning is not always purely romantic. It should still mean something.

  4. @ Tristan : Hahaha! Thank you, sir, my point exactly, and in far, far less words :D

  5. For the record, I wasn't really looking for meaning in ONS. Hehe. I've no fantasies of finding love in casual sexual encounters. And this entry somehow clarified what I'm conflicted about. ONS is shallow. The value judgement, I'm in no position to give. Thanks RB! =)
    - Darc

  6. @ darc: Oh, thank YOU for the post inspiration, and to Galen, as well.

  7. Love is love and sex is sex is right sometimes. they can be two separate things for some people for others they might as well be one. So when it comes down to it, its the matter of how much you feel for that person you are having sex with.

  8. right now in trying to avoid ONS because I don't feel dignified. Let's see what happens.

  9. ONS do have meanings, or rather purpose, that is to cover up for one's sorrow. well at least for me.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Hello my dear Rudeboy.

    Thank you for dedicating an entire blog entry about my thoughts on lust and love. In all honesty, I don't know how to respond to the points you have raised, except that, as someone who have experienced many things, I stand by the words I wrote in my blog and the blogs of others.

    Pardon me if I say that you've missed the point when I parted "It must be a very sad life." in my entry, "Android." I am not referring to the sex per-se, but to his views on friendship. Maybe its about values and principles. Maybe it's how I was raised in this kind of life. The point is, (which I am trying to "enforce" (to myself) in all allegiances I keep) I cannot fathom how sex and friendship could mix. Granted that it is possible to begin friendship with lust, but doing it constantly with friends? I am not sure how to make sense out of it.

    Apologies if I sounded too jaded, draconian (or whatever adjective you may call it) in my views about the "L" word. I guess it comes with experience. Tristan is right when he said sex is sex and one should not put a big deal about it. That's life and though I don't possess his prowess in finding bed partners, I can relate to his escapades for they could have been mine too.

    It so happened that I took a different approach on the subject:

    "Sex doesn't have to have a meaning beyond lust. Sure, doing it with someone you genuinely have feelings for is what makes it special, but we simply cannot have romantic feelings for everyone we hop in the sack with."

    Darc Diarist actually answered what I was about to say.

    "transactional sex... I get it. Pero don't you lose a part of yourself in the process of doing it without feelings?"

    To add to his statement. The reason why I don't hop with every guy I cruelly seduce is because I don't want to lose what remains of my source. I embraced homosexuality eight years ago in hopes that someday, I'd find a like-minded person I can see as a friend and lover. Should I continue the path towards, pardon the word, promiscuity, what's holding me back from jumping to one bed to another even when I have someone to call my "one?"

    It must be the romanticist in me speaking. But trust me when I say that I've been in a worse state. I might be tipping over from time to time, but I'm a little more in control of my urges now.

    Ask those who have engaged themselves in hook ups more than they could count if they, deep inside, felt a void within. They may admit it or not, but the more you suppress your ability to attach - to feel beyond lust, power, prey and dominance - the less you put value on people coming your way.

    I hope that my comment was able to address the points you've raised in your lengthy post. Pardon if I sounded too righteous in some of my entries. It just me reminding... that life is not all about lust.

    To end this comment, I'd like to share something which happened to me many years ago, which is a direct reference to the entry "Android."


    The last time I joined an orgy, the first people I longed to speak after the lustful act was over were the ones I call friends.

    Now if your orgy partners were your only PLU barkada, I wonder where would you run to and say

    "I felt like trash."

  12. wala ako masabi sa intensity ng post mo rudeboy
    at reply ni Galen

  13. meanings are dependent to an individual's intentions, needs, wants and motivations. it varies based from our interpretations, which are anchored from our experiences. so there will never be a single meaning for everything.

    indeed, sex is just sex, and it is way different from love. but this line should not only be leaning to single party alone.

    regardless if sex and love are driven either by the very relationship or just mere interaction, both parties who engage themselves to the act, should be totally aware of what they are going to expect and its perfectly clear to them, how far the line goes. its not enough that only one person has the idea of everything.

    i think, this is the problem of most individuals who engage themselves to ONS. they think they already know what the line: just sex(no strings attach) means. thus, they easily jump into the actual set up, without really understanding what they're going into. at the end of the day, they catch themselves all alone again, lying on the same point where they started but this time with additional baggages...

    *kudos to you both! magandang arguement ito. napaisip ako!

  14. casual sex for me, like masturbation, helps achieve homeostasis - that's what it means to me. for some, casual sex may mean a boost to their ego. for some, a fulfillment of some fantasy. and for some, just to feel needed and wanted even for just a few minutes.

    meaning, like time according to Einstein, is relative.

    i'm inspired to do a post about my love life dahil sa post na ito. thanks rudy!

  15. sasakit lang puson natin if we waste time trying to seek a deeper meaning to our casual encounters. carnal pleasures lang yan.

    ang casual sex, gaano man ka-passionate, casual sex pa rin.

  16. same sentiments with Ming Meow on feeling dignified about ONS... we'll see nga..

    ... and I love John Stanley. lol

  17. Sex gives us two things. Babies and pleasures.

    Since most PLUs are not after babies (naman), then the only good reason left is pleasure.

    Defining what pleasure or happiness is, might take us truckload of theories and philosophies to soothe everyone senses here.

  18. @darc diarist: hala, 'wag kang ganyan. baka maniwala ako. LOLs.

  19. Whoa, where'd everyone come from haha. Nice to see a plethora of opinions, though; it warms the cockles of my cold, black heart.

    @ Galen : Many, many thanks for the long and thoughtful reply. I love trading opposing opinions with you, even when our thoughts often bisect in the process.

    One should never apologize for one's opinions, to my mind. I rather like this passage of yours:

    "Ask those who have engaged themselves in hook ups more than they could count if they, deep inside, felt a void within. They may admit it or not, but the more you suppress your ability to attach - to feel beyond lust, power, prey and dominance - the less you put value on people coming your way."

    Emptiness, yes. Ironic how some people who seem to have it all can be full of nothingness inside, eh? Do they seek a constant stream of temporary affection in order to fill that void? Or is it really just a simple biological need?

    Likewise, do people whose only PLU contacts are sex partners and nothing more even need PLU friends? Would they want them?

    The answers, of course, are as varied as they are many. And what a wonderfully colored variety we have in the blogosphere, which I'm happy to have finally partaken of because I am privileged to see other PLUs' take on the world and everything in it.


  20. is it february in november? :)

  21. @ ash : It's a big world; must be February somewhere.

  22. wow. this is very very meaty. i had so much fun reading it. i think you were able to say it all. i especially like the hangover parallelism. i think it's sooo spot on.

    yeah, sex without love is fun if you don't let it affect u. while i have nothing but respect for people who claim to have found love through hook ups, i don't think i can do the same thing. sometimes, in the middle of the act, i sort of think hmm.. maybe this is it. maybe this is the person i'm going to love. but then i get my release and along with the heat, all thoughts of romance disappears.

    sex without love = easy but tiring. love without sex = hmmm...

  23. aaaaaaaaahm.... maybe Lust and Love, and other four letter words are all the same. They only differ on what you do with them.... and what you do with these things, baka nandun yung meaning...

    sa totoo lang lahat ng nabasa ko sa comment, naisip ko lahat yan eh, naunahan lang ako hahahahaha joke lang po....


  24. What comes to mind is this regressive, often infinite, chain of significations, if we are to talk about the meaning-making, or the associative process within it. What I really want to say is probably there is no inherent meaning in things, in our actions; rather, they are shaped by our decisions, our reason, the context with which it emerges or lies in, the perspective we choose to take, and the others things we associate with it, to shape its meaning. These things, further, rely on other things for the meanings we have invested in them.

    I suspect that there is meaning behind our actions because of our impulse to rationalize, and/or to find one in them. This argument is cyclical, I know, and probably, that is the point.

    Sometimes I find myself not really knowing why I did what I did. Seriously not having any clue. And these actions go way beyond sexual ones. On a number of occasions, I just decided not to think about it, believing that I won't matter anyway. And the quest for meaning stops, right there and then.

  25. @ citybuoy : You are a sharp and observant cookie and I would like to bite you sometime.

    @ Yj : Do we just love to lust, or do we just lust for love?

    @ Manech : We can't analyze every little thing we do, or we'd go stir-crazy. But we also can't go through life with our actions on auto-pilot. As Socrates said : "An unexamined life is not worth living."

  26. hahaha i just saw your reply and this is all i can say. hahaha