How To Tell If You’re In Love, Or Just Having Amazing Sex

PSA: You can’t love someone you don’t know.

Photo by istock

I have a confession to make: I’m one of those women who has, time and time again, confused amazing sexual chemistry for a “once in a lifetime” love.

Where I’m spending the day in my brain. ☀🌸🌹🌻🌼💐🏵

A post shared by Zara Barrie (@zarabarrie) on

If you can provide me with a multitude of body-tingling, hair-pulling, heart-rate-increasing orgasms, I will chalk up your ability to do so to our shared spiritual connection — not that fact that you just *happen* to be extremely talented with your hands and mouth (and can use both at the same time, sigh).

If you look all sexy and swaggy in your wax-coated jeans and you can raise your left eyebrow without your right eyebrow moving in the slightest, I’ll assume, without ever having spoken to you, that you’re incredibly funny and interesting, even if you’re a boring, humorless troll.

If we engage in brilliant eye-sex from across the bar and you end up taking me home to your apartment and we find ourselves in the throes of a steamy one-night stand, I’ll undoubtedly think, I’ve met my soulmate.

When really it was nothing but one of those rare, orgasm-filled sexcapades.

This habit of mine has gotten me into trouble more times than I care to count. It’s the only reason why one-nighters and random hookups are extremely dangerous for my (albeit fragile) mental health. Not because I give a rat’s ass about my sluttiness or the number of women I’ve slept with or anything sex shame-y or antiquated like that. But because if I have a one-nighter with a narcissistic, sociopathic f*ck girl — and the sex happens to be really, really good — I will find myself in a Two Year Toxic Relationship That Has Devastating Effects On My Self-Esteem™ kind of situation.

I’m wildly protective over all of my kittens, and I want to at least *attempt* to stop you from making the dire mistakes I endlessly made whilst in the bloom of my sex-obsessed, hyper-naive baby dyke days. Confusing sex with love isn’t just a cute “rite of passage,” like getting a hideous lower back tattoo, or getting kicked out of the gay bar for being a drunken mess; these are mistakes that could quite literally snatch the most precious years of your youth away from you. These are mistakes that will turn you from a sweet and enthusiastic kitten to a vicious and jaded snake in a matter of months.

You know that mean, old lesbian who sits in the corner of every gay bar and scowls at everyone? She was you once. Until she found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship with a woman who robbed her of everything she’s ever (figuratively and literally) owned.

I don’t want that for you.

But you, my darlings, you are still young! And while I know that at, the end of the day, you’re going to probably “do it anyway” (good sex impairs your brain more than a tab of acid), as your lesbian big sister, I truly deem it my civic duty to at least *try* and save you from destruction.

So queer it is. A seasoned lesbian’s guide to figuring out whether you like her, or are just simply addicted to the sex.

If you think it’s love at first sight, it’s probably just the sex. 

When I find myself falling in love at a lightning speed, I now know to run the other direction screaming. In fact, it’s usually a red-flag letting me know that my mental health is once again, unsteady. It means that I’m so madly overcome with such wild desire that I’m not thinking clearly. I’m not in my right mind, babes. I’ve taken too many shots of proverbial whiskey. I’m under the influence of something far more dangerous than drugs, I’m under the influence of le pussy. Le orgasms. 

As your lesbian big sis, I’m going to tell you something that might be really hard to hear. Every fiber of my being still secretly wants to rebel against this life-truth. In fact, I spent so many years wrestling with this reality that my body is now peppered with nasty scars that will likely never heal. But here it goes: You can’t love someone you don’t know. 

Love is not just a “feeling.” Love takes time to cultivate; it needs to be watered and fed like a house-plant or a helpless child. Love is not a rapid-fire; it’s a slow-burn. Love is picking her up from the airport when traffic is terrible and you’re going to miss the best party of the century, but damn it, your partner needs a damn ride. Love is dragging your body to your partner’s family’s house every single Sunday, even when her family is impossibly boring, but still, you’ll go and skip a fun boozy brunch with your girls because you know your partner’s family means everything to her and she means everything to you. Love is clutching hands with your partner through the night when they’re sick in the hospital.

Love is earned, but most importantly, love is active.

When we have orgasms, our bodies release a powerful hormone called “oxytocin” known in psychology circles as the “love hormone.” When oxytocin is released into the body, it fuels us with a strong desire to cuddle and even makes us feel empathetic toward our partner. (It’s also released when a woman breastfeeds her child.) Oxytocin is known to make us feel trusting. How scary is that? It can actually tamper with an otherwise reasonable person’s brain and manipulate her into thinking a total stranger is worthy of our precious trust.

You might even think to yourself: “This person is everything, I trust them with my LIFE,” when really you don’t know the woman lying next to you in the slightest. She could be a thief ready to rob you of your collection of Doc Marten boots, for all you know!

That’s not to say that you can’t experience an amazing orgasm with an amazing person. Of course you can, babes! But you won’t know if she’s an amazing person until you’ve spent a lot of time with her, you hear?

Otherwise, it’s the oxytocin talking, girl.

If your sex sessions are followed by incredibly deep, nuanced conversations about life, you might actually like her. 

Okay, so let’s say you’re falling into a blissed-out druggie oxytocin state, after sex and you’re feeling all high and in love and shit. Let’s say several hours go by and you find yourself talking to this mystery girl that made you cum so hard you dug your nails into your thigh and drew blood.

Let’s say another several hours go by and you haven’t even had sex again because you’re so deeply riveted by her words. Like you’re having this amazing, nuanced conversation about life. Like you haven’t felt this intellectually stimulated in ages and you’re even finding your brain getting stretched open wide because she’s making you look at things in an entirely different way.

Well, babes, having a sick conversation is something that even oxytocin can’t trick you into having. Conversation chemistry is real. You actually like her. And I, as your Lesbian Big Sister, give you the official go-ahead for another date.

If you feel addicted to her, it’s just the sex. 

If you can’t stop thinking about her body, if it physically hurts you to be separated from her, if you can smell her when she’s not there, if you get physically buzzed off of her pheromone scent, if you’re neglecting your friends and responsibilities to go f*ck her, if your grades are dropping since she came into your life, if your slacking off at work because you’re spending six hours a day sexting, if you would blow off your mother’s 70th birthday party to go get laid by her…it’s just sex, sweet kitten.

I know I sound like such a bitter old dyke today and I’m sorry (not sorry). But I promise you none of what I’m saying is actually bad. It’s OK to feel addicted to someone as long as you’re self-aware about it. Indulging in lusty feelings is heaps of fun! I don’t discourage it. I’m all about chasing that cheap high, girl. Just don’t think that for one minute that the powerful longings for sex that you’re experiencing, is love.

We’re women. When we have sex, our hormones get all linked up and when we separate, we can feel a physical withdrawal from that person. The withdrawal isn’t real. It’s your hormones. It’s oxytocin. It’s biology. It’s the power of sex.

But it isn’t love.

If a date without sex seems like it would still be a fun (intellectually) stimulating time, you actually like her. 

Close your eyes. Does a dinner date, where you both go to your respective homes afterwards, still seem like a good time? Yes? Then you, my love, just might actually really, be digging this girl.

If she has serious red flags that you’re choosing to ignore, it’s just the sex. 

One time (HA! As if that was the *only* time) I had sex with a girl on the first date and it was hot AF. I woke up the next morning to her flipping through the channels on her TV. Ru Paul’s Drag Race flashed across the screen. “Leave that on! I love it!” I screeched, shooting out of bed (only Drag Queens can evoke this kind of emotion in me so early in the morning).

“Ew. I can’t stand Drag Queens,” she murmured, lighting up a ciggie inside without asking me if I minded (I don’t mind, but I mind that you ask, you know?).

Two giant red-flags appeared right in front of my eyes and began to furiously wave. They were shiny and giant and the reddest shade of red I had ever seen in my life.

Did I never talk to her again as I would to anyone else who displayed such warning signs? I mean, I have a personal mantra: “Don’t ever trust anyone who doesn’t get Drag humor.”

I ignored my personal mantra. I ignored the red flags. All because of the sex.

And I ended up wasting seventeen months of my life that I’ll never get back.

So if she’s wildly waving red flags in your face, and for some reason, you’re looking in the opposite direction, you need to check yourself, babe. You know why you’re ignoring these fatal flaws? Because you’re addicted to the sex. And while great sex is most definitely fantastic, it’s not worth ignoring a red flag. It’s like that saying: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

So walk the f*ck away, kitten. Walk away and trust your lesbian big sister when I tell you that one day you’ll find someone who makes you scream with pleasure, and will also miss the best lez party in Hollywood to pick you up from the airport.

I swear to Lana Del Rey, she exists. And orgasms are much better when they’re loaded with real love, not just oxytocin love.