Sex can be awesome or awful, sensual or scary, wonderful or wretched; it can be frustrating or satisfying, intimate or impersonal, boring or magical. Sex can be life-changing or life-draining; sex can be gentle, or, sadly, sex can be forceful. No other human interaction is as loaded an experience as sex. Even the word itself is powerful. “Sex sells,” they claim in the media. (Although, I think the sex-shock-sell market is saturated, and people are starting to prefer a little more personal discretion and elegance in advertising. The shock value of “SEX” is about spent.)
The truth about sex is that it is a universal experience, and at the same time it is an intensely personal one. None of us would be here without some form of sex, yet the way we feel about our own sexual experiences is highly unique. A lot of how we experience sex is emotional, and, of course, the person with whom we are having sex is a big factor in those feelings. No two people are alike, so no two sexual encounters are alike.
My personal feeling is that having sex before you are mature enough to handle the ramifications of it can be a detrimental experience; and, honestly, the first time can be quite painful, both physically and emotionally, especially for girls.
I still recall many young girls in my high school who fell in love with a guy who just wanted to have sex, not with her per se, but just sex in general. These girls were emotionally hurt by their treatment, and many of them became pregnant. Their physical bodies and lives were altered forever by five minutes of teenage curiosity. Those girls then moved to night school and left their social circles, most of them for the remainder of their school years. When they pushed out their babies, they pushed out their carefree high school years. This is not to say that they don’t love those children. Of course they do; but, when children have children, it can be disorienting to the teenage parents. (I know because my mother had me when barely 18 years-old.)
I also know that many boys are under intense pressure to have sex in order to “be a man.” Isn’t it more manly to treat sex as the precious experience with a special person that it is instead of thinking of it as some marker of masculinity, some rite of passage? For boys, too, having sex too early can be mystifying and alienating.
Everyone has a different point for when they are emotionally ready for sex. I think our culture has made it very casual and common instead of viewing it as the chance for incredible bonding with someone. Our feverish in-the-moment mentality has devalued the pleasure of true intimacy. “F*** buddies” (AKA “hook-ups”) is now pervasive in our cultural vernacular. I feel bad for young people who think that this “arrangement” is somehow mutually beneficial in the long-term, but our society is teaching them that it is somehow natural. And yet, it is wrong. Here’s how:
Studies have shown that hook-ups leave both males and females with a great degree of regret. Even though, in general, women experience more of this phenomenon than men, both groups can feel embarrassed, lonely, or depressed.
Yet everywhere we turn in society, we see images of sex – on billboards, in magazines, online, and on TV and in the movies. They seem to say, “Casual sex is where it’s at, baby.” Yes, sex is a BIG deal. But why can’t it be more private, more committed? Removing the intimacy makes something less cherished. Are we raising an entire generation to feel that it’s okay to use each other for sexual pleasure, that we have no time for the slow development of a relationship, the kind that ultimately gives meaning to our lives?
We all have inherent worth. Allowing someone to use us, our bodies, or allowing ourselves to use another person for anything, really, is not the way to value others; and, it is certainly not the way to value ourselves.
The truth about sex is that it is a big deal…but so are you. Sex is something to look forward to, to develop a relationship around that is filled with mutual admiration and respect. If a person can’t be bothered to unwrap the mystery of who you are, then they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to unwrap your clothes from around your body.
The truth about sex is that it is about you, wonderful you. Make it special because you are special.