If your boyfriend wants to have sex with other people, one of the questions you might be asking is “Can you have sex without love?” That’s a question I got recently — and I’ve heard many times before — so I want to share my response with you.

David asked,

“If you are in an open relationship how do you differentiate sex from love? How do you not get jealous or self conscious about it? I have heard a lot of people who have an open relationship and they are able to separate the two.”

In today’s video, we look at the difference between love and sex, how both love and sex are at play in an open relationship, and whether the distinction is even helpful in the first place.

For this, there are actually two answers to this.

Number one is that you separate sex and love the same way that you separate love from any other activity that you might do.

A good example of this is eating.

You could go out with your partner, or someone that you have crush on, someone that you’re in love with and it could be a really romantic date. There’s lots of love, feeling, emotion in the eating.

You could have food in the context of foreplay or sex like strawberries, and whipped cream, and chocolate leading up to this like romantic evening together.

Or, you could eat lunch by yourself. You could go out to a business lunch with coworkers.

You could have a big meal and dinner with friends. So, there are different ways to eat. Some of those involve lots of love, some of those are all by yourself, some of those are with friends, some of those are some mix of in between.

The same is true with sex.

Sometimes there’s a lot of love present in sex, sometimes you have sex by yourself, sometimes it’s just for fun, sometimes it’s because it feels good, it tastes good.

We’ve been taught that sex is this super special thing, and it is, it can be, but it’s also a basic human function. Sex, like eating, is important and meaningful because of what we bring to it.

If you want your sex to be meaningful and full of love, bring that intentionality to it. And, if you want your sex to be fun or frivolous, or just feel good, spontaneous, anything else, you can bring that to it.

Knowing that about ourselves can then help us understand that, and remember that when it comes to our partners.

It’s going to be what they bring to the encounter. Just because they’re having sex doesn’t mean that’s there’s lots of love there, but it also doesn’t mean that there isn’t love there. That’s for your partner to figure out with whoever he’s having sex with, and for the two of you to talk about together.

The second answer is that you don’t necessarily need to try and separate love from sex in order to have a healthy, fulfilling open relationship.

I know that the idea of your boyfriend loving someone else can be super intimidating because we’ve been taught that that’s an ultimate betrayal, that there’s only so much love, and if your boyfriend loves someone else it’s taking it away from you and giving to someone else, and that’s just the end of the world.

But that’s just not how love works.

We know that already. No one ever suggests that a parent loves their first child less when they decide to have a second child. We understand that you can love one child with all of your heart, and then also love a second or a third or a fourth. Or, if you’re the Duggars, the 18th or the 19th with all your heart as well. The same is true of romantic relationships, that love is abundant.

I found that when guys are scared that if their partner has sex with someone else, it might mean that they love them. And, how can they make sure that it’s just sex and not love? There’s usually some underlying fears and feelings there, beyond just, “I don’t want him to love someone else.”

Then, it can be helpful to get curious about why it’s important for you that it be just sex and not love. What are you feeling, and what are you afraid of? Are you worried about him leaving you? Are you worried about being alone? Are you worried about commitment? Are you worried about intimacy? Are you worried about trust? Are you worried about spontaneity, freshness? Newness, adventure? What’s going on there? (Read this article if you need some help figuring that out).

So that’s my two part answer to sex and love in open relationships…

The first one is that it’s not always about love, sometimes it’s just sex, and that’s a lot of fun.

The second answer is that even if there is love present that’s okay too, that can be a healthy part of a fulfilling open relationship.

If you’re trying to figure out if an open relationship is right for you and navigate that process, I put together some videos that will walk you through just that. I’ll see ya over there.