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Even though “making love” is often used to describe one of the world’s most fun activities, the actual phrase can be divisive. Much like serial offenders “moist” and “panties” (sorry), “making love” can have a special way of making some people’s skin crawl. I have to admit I’m not usually a fan of it because it just seems so flowery and outdated, but there are a few other reasons it may not be the most fitting term. There’s also one big one it might.

First, there’s the fact that maybe “making love” doesn’t accurately describe what you’re doing. What if it’s a one-night stand? What if you’re having hate sex? What if you’re with a friend with benefits who is, much like Ryan Lochte, a sweet-yet-simple guy you wouldn’t actually date? Even if you do love the guy, if he’s going at it hard from behind, does that seem like “making love”? It just doesn’t to me! There are a few alternatives that could be a better fit in those cases:

Having sex: Clear and straight to the point.

Hooking up: When you want to leave room for some mystery.

Boning: Best used when joking around.

F*cking: Applicable for all sorts of situations and conversations.

Also, “making love” sounds so serious. It calls to mind images of the kind of sex scenes that would come on in the films your parents chose for movie night, thoroughly embarrassing the lot of you. You know, soft lighting, no foreplay, lots of gentle rocking. “Making love” lacks the fun, silly vibe that can make sex so amazing.

At the same time, I can’t fault anyone for holding on to the term and refusing to let go, Jack and Rose-style. Sex might be at its best when it’s emotionally significant and you feel like by doing it you’ve stumbled upon the meaning of life via orgasm. In those cases, what else would you call it? Other options might seem too frivolous and not carry the weight the experience deserves.

Either way, I like that this is one of those things you can disagree about in a relationship without it turning into a fight. If both of you are on the same page about whether to call your sex “making love,” then you’re set. If one of you is squicked-out while the other loves it, that can result in all sorts of fun, like whispering, “I just adore making love to you” in someone’s ear for a hilariously creeped-out reaction. Or, you can compromise and use it when it applies to the kind of sex you just had or want to have, then ditch it when it doesn’t. Best of both worlds!


The Dilemma: Is the Term “Making Love” Sweet or Corny?  was originally published on