Joy Alise,

I was watching one of my favorite movies, After Sex, written and directed by Eric Amadio, the other day. This indie film is a series of intimate and vulnerable dialogues between eight couples in their relationships. Each scene takes place moments after sex. I strongly recommend this film to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the 21st century sexual relationship.   

This film shows many different types of relationships. Two high school students just after they lose their virginity, one curious college student with her lesbian roommate, a couple having an affair, a confused fraternity boy right after having sex with a man for the first time, an interracial relationship in their late 60s, a one night stand, a gay couple struggling with stereotypical masculine/feminine roles and a couple transitioning from a friends with benefits relationship to love. I really loved the honesty throughout this film. I wonder if it’s the emotional bond during sex or the oxytocin hormone. The Jan. 10issue of The New York Times featured an article titled “Depth of the Kindness Hormone Appears to Know Some Bounds” which talks about this issue. The article says, “Oxytocin has been described as the hormone of love.” I believe some of the most honest conversations can be had right after something as imitate as sex.

The first scene of the movie highlights Chris and Leslie. Right after sex, Chris makes jokes about Leslie falling in love with him. It was obvious he was developing feelings for Leslie and didn’t want to admit it first. Chris was under the impression that love was negotiable. He wanted to know that she felt the same way before he admitted his feelings.  

I have always wondered if love was negotiable. Can you enter a love agreement with the notion that it requires both parties will have to love the other?  

I have always been advised to never say “I love you” first. I have had numerous conversations with friends about how nerve wracking saying “I love you” can be. I have always felt that it’s all about timing. Say it too early and it could add pressure to the relationship. Saying it too late can end a relationship. At a certain point in a relationship, love is expected. I have many friends that ended relationships because they were in love and their partners didn’t feel the same way.  

Is it OK to stay in a relationship if you’re the only one in love? 

Love should be evenly distributed in a healthy relationship. After a certain point in a relationship, being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back can become a problem. From personal experience, I can tell you loving someone without receiving love back is very frustrating. It creates a distance between the partners because one person wants to take it to the next level and the other doesn’t. Chris, like many students on campus, fears rejection. While this fear may be legitimate, it only creates a glass ceiling on the relationship. 

Later, Leslie goes on a rant that was simply brilliant. She talks about playing a game at a carnival. People spend hours and lots of money trying to win a prize. She states that sex is a game where everyone wins a little prize. The game is fairly easy and takes minimum effort. Love is the game that is difficult to win. She goes on to say that winning the big prize (love) is worth the risk of failing. In her opinion, love is a guessing game with no guarantees, but worth the risk. 

Love is a scary thing. Love requires compassion, forgiveness and a level of selflessness. To love someone you must understand the risk that comes with it. Essentially, falling in love is giving your heart to someone and believing that he or she won’t break it. Love isn’t negotiable. While many of us don’t really have a choice whether we love another person, we do have the option whether or not to share our feelings. Let’s rub off our mask and get real instead of engaging in a love stalemate.