Couple in bed sex making love copulating

How to tell if you’re having sex or making love

What if I told you you could achieve enlightenment in this lifetime—and all you had to do was become a celibate monk and live in a secluded monastery for the rest of your life? On second thought, maybe enlightenment can wait.

The beautiful thing about following the relational path as a spiritual path—that is, using your relationships as a vehicle for spiritual growth—is that you don’t need to retreat to a monastery to train your body, mind, and soul to achieve ecstatic union with the universe. This is especially true for our most symbolic union: sex.

Cultivating a sense of oneness in the midst of sex with your lover can help you nurture other ways to merge your realities. When you’re in true romantic love, the oneness that comes from the breakdown of “I” and “Not-I” can express itself in many ways, such as sex, a leisurely walk together on a warm fall afternoon, or a winter evening spent basking in the glow of a cozy fire. (Guess which of those three examples people often enjoy most?)

But sex doesn’t always connect two lovers with the divine. Like meditation, the relational path can only be part of a spiritual path when it’s practised with intention, attention, and concentration. Without these key components, sex is just sex. Or it’s just copulating.

But how can we tell the difference?

Copulating, Having Sex or Making Love

Humans are one of only a few species that engage in sexual intercourse for recreation as well as procreation (bonobos, bears, and short-nosed fruit bats are among the others believed to have figured this one out). Most people recognize that sex can have an emotional function, as a way to express love, and I am clearly not alone in believing it also has a spiritual function, to connect with the divine.

In the case of the latter, how well sex expresses what’s in our souls depends on the quality of our minds. I would argue that only in a relationship can two lovers bringing intention, attention, and concentration to the act of sexual intercourse. The difference is in the quality of love and the energy that the lovers bring to the sexual act.

So how do we know when we’re making love with a partner, or just having sex? Let’s look deeper.

1. Copulation

In a classic case of copulation, you don’t need to like your sexual partner or even know them. They are merely a sexual object. Your intention, attention, and concentration are on using your partner to release sexual tension in your body. You’re giving pleasure to yourself, essentially masturbating with a partner. Your attention and intention are on your genitals or in your head, and consequently that’s where your energy goes.

When two people copulate, they’re likely to need sexual fantasies to achieve orgasm. Since your mind determines the sensory and energetic range of your vibrational field, and since your mind is focused on your fantasy, you will not feel a deep connection with your partner. Moreover, since your fantasy takes you out of the present moment, you may even have a hard time giving a gold-medal performance or even achieving orgasm.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Sometimes people who are not in a relationship need sexual release. As long as both partners know what they’re doing is copulating and the act is between mutually consenting adults, I say, have at it!

Let’s look a level deeper now.

2. Having Sex

To have sex with a partner involves caring and affection, and possibly even feelings of love. This is not meaningless or anonymous and it’s not mutual masturbation. Your mental image of your sexual partner is of a person you care for. When you are kissing and caressing them, it’s more than kissing just any warm body. You’re not just having sex as a vehicle for reproduction or sexual release but because it also helps you feel closer to each other.

When we are in a relationship, we have a special image/thought-form of our sexual partner. In this regard, we are having sex with our mental image of that person. We use sex to breathe energy into this image.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this as long as both partners know this is what they’re doing. You can have sex with someone you’re not in love with. That’s essentially the definition of “friends with benefits.” You care about the person, but you’re not in love with them. They’re a stand-in for someone you might love someday. It’s unlikely the sex will be a spiritual experience, but it can go beyond releasing sexual tension or trying to reproduce and become a deeply satisfying expression of mutual affection.

Now let’s get into the good stuff!

3. Making Love

True romantic lovemaking is no longer between you and your partner, but one being melded into transcendental unity. In this special state, the boundary between subject and object breaks down and the two merge into one. This could mean either that two distinct vibrational systems are merging into a bigger whole, or that they are in tune with each other’s frequencies and creating a harmonic effect.

A couple who have had the experience of true romantic lovemaking know that it far exceeds having sex. Apart from safety and trust, it requires that two souls be in love with each other. The experience of intimacy surpasses the psychological closeness of a couple having sex. Even the most skilful lover cannot offer this to a sexual partner without sincere intention.

When a person is in love, their five senses open and their awareness expands. In this state, the lovers’ bodies and minds unite and sexual energy flows freely. The lovers are aware of their physical, emotional, and energetic states. To fall in love, we need no training. A lover’s body/mind union empowers them to build a temporary psychic connection with their beloved. The two lovers can easily achieve a state of energetic union because the vibrational frequency (the deeper inner state) of their bodies, minds, and spirits are in tune with one another.

One way to define the word intercourse is “communication.” It is a means of connecting two persons. To communicate at an energetic level, both partners must surrender to each other. In the course of making love, an act of pure intention is an act of unconditional giving. The lovers are naturally mindful of their beloved’s bodily, emotional, and energetic state. In a moment like this, of deep communion, nothing exists for each of them but their beloved.

Making love creates unity. Making love creates the energetic body of the relationship and the new identities the two lovers assume as a result. The intensity of this energetic body strengthens the relationship and transforms having sex into making love.

The next time you find yourself in the bedroom or any avant-garde venues that you can imagine, think about this. If you were copulating or having sex, instead of making love, what was missing from the experience, and how can you find that?


To learn how to transform having sex into making love, get my book, The Sacred Path of the Soulmate, today.