If Google Books' Ngram Viewer is any indication, sex may surpass love in popularity. Literary popularity, at least.
According to Google's new research tool, which tracks words and phrases across more than five million books, the word "love" has been dropping in popularity over the past 200 years, before plateauing slightly above "sex" around 1980. Speaking of 1980, that's the year "feminism" skyrocketed past "housewife," and "marry" lost out to "divorce." Maybe that's when our interest in divorce porn began? And although we are all fascinated with virginity, the actual word has stayed consistently low compared to "sexuality," which started climbing around 1940. And how about the whole "single" vs. "unmarried" debate? Well, it was a close call until around 1970, when "single women" became more popular than "unmarried women."
See the charts below, and let me know if you've discovered any great comparisons on the tool in the comments!