Making love is another way of saying having sex, though there is usually an implication that making love involves a type of sex that’s more intimate, romantic, or even spiritual. When two people make love, the physical acts are seen as an expression of love between them, explains sex and dating coach Myisha Battle, M.S..
“When people say ‘making love,’ they tend to mean emotionally connected sex, or sex with someone with whom they are in love,” she explains. “It’s linked to spiritual seekers, hippies, Tantra practitioners, or anyone else who seeks transcendence through sex.”
The term likely arose in relation to the idea of traditional courtship, Battle notes, but it has since evolved from its original meaning to have the meaning it has now. Today, the term “making love” is more commonly used among more religious, spiritual, or traditional communities, or it can be a way of talking about sex without saying the word “sex,” which some people find to be too crass.
Meanwhile, others have consciously moved away from using the term “making love” because of the way it can create a moral hierarchy around sexuality, implying that sex is most valuable when romantic love is involved—which is not the case for everybody.
“Some argue it’s an outdated term because there is more cultural acceptance for sex outside of the context of a loving partnership,” Battle adds. “There is also a growing understanding that all different kinds of sex can connect two people emotionally.”