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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 30, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Natasha McKeever
Pages 201-218
DOI: 10.5840/ijap201711069

Love
What’s Sex Got To Do With It?

It is usually taken for granted that romantic relationships will be sexual, but it seems that there is no necessary reason for this, as it is possible for romantic relationships to not include sex. Indeed, sometimes sex is a part of a romantic relationship for only a relatively short period of it. Furthermore, scientific explanations of the link between sex and love don’t seem fully satisfying because they tell us only about the mechanics of sex, rather than its meaning or phenomenology. Therefore, the question of why it is that the archetypal romantic relationship includes sex, calls for philosophical analysis, yet it has been under-explored in philosophy. In this paper, I attempt to remedy this. I argue that sex is important to romantic love because it partly constitutes, builds, and expresses four of the central goods of a romantic relationship: 1) pleasure, 2) union, 3) intimacy, and 4) vulnerability and care. Thus, sex can be, and often is, an important vehicle for romantic love, though it is not essential for it.