Many years ago our parents and our parent’s parents forged a new path through the American landscape. It was what many considered to be the end of sexual repression and the beginning of true emotional development.
Even so, what I see around me as an adult is probably not what these men and women had in mind. Despite the fact that we have more information about sex than ever before, we find ourselves divided and emotionally stunted.
How did we get here? How did a culture of free love become the joyless hookup culture of today? How did we find ourselves so far from the happiness that these people wanted for us?
I think it began in the assumption that all of us are wired to be polyamorous. Physically we can love more than one person, but not everyone is emotionally prepared to love more than one person. Sex and more specifically good sex comes from an emotional connection with a person.
Sex with a single person for a long period of time allows one to develop their sexual skills. By learning what they like on their own, and what their partner likes, they come to learn how to have good sex.
Right now we’re teaching young people that such concepts are old and antiquated. We’re teaching young people that sex with one person is overly complicated and troublesome. As a result, it will take them longer than average to learn how to have good sex and a healthy sexual relationship.
It will take them, several partners, before they realize that not only is the sex they’re having joyless and empty, but just plain bad. I’ve read several articles now, unintentionally documenting what seems to be a growing dysfunction in our culture.
The dysfunction of which I speak is the death of intimacy. What we’ve done is instructed young people about their bodies in the way that one instructs a person on how to fix their car, but human beings don’t necessarily work that way.
What we’re seeing are people who have a lot of sexual dissatisfaction, or they find that their partners are inconsiderate of their needs. They can’t reach orgasm or they have problems becoming aroused, and it’s because of this separation of emotion and raw sexual chemistry from the equation. When it comes to good sex, the two are inseparable.
We’re teaching young people the mechanics, of sex and all the biology around it, but not enough about how to navigate it all emotionally. So people will enter relationships with people they are merely attracted to sexually and wonder what’s missing. Conversely, they will also find themselves with people they love emotionally but whom they have little or no sexual attraction to.
Young people will try to have sex like porn stars and wonder why it feels so terrible and hollow. The desire to open the sexual floodgates has left us with an abundance of information on sexual mechanics, and little on how to make our relationships healthy and long lasting.
I think this disconnect between love and sex, has done us all more harm than good. There is a bargaining that goes on within us, and we readily accept empty meaningless sex in place of a relationship. We want to be loved and touched by someone, anyone, if only for a little while. It’s normal, natural, and human.
We’ve told ourselves that meaningless sex hurts no one and that it’s just fun all around, but the truth is that it’s never been for everyone. Not everyone will enjoy sex with a large number of partners and I’d be willing to bet that only a small number of people can do this and come out emotionally unscathed.
What we’re not teaching teens in sex ed is that there are chemicals being released in the brain when they have sex. These chemicals are meant to help you bond with the person you’re having sex with, which is why it’s almost never “just sex.” It’s almost never, “Just a little fun.”
It’s that bond with someone you have sexual chemistry with, that makes sex so good. It’s what makes sex something that people live and die for. It’s what makes it hurt so much when you lose that person, and they go date someone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to live your life like a monk or a nun. What I am saying is that there is a problem and a very clear solution to that problem.
It’s simple, don’t have sex with people you don’t want to be emotionally bonded to. Go for quality, not quantity. Don’t expect to find satisfaction in hookups with complete strangers, and know that sex is not something that people automatically know how to do well. It’s a skill that has to be cultivated.
Free love isn’t free, and it certainly isn’t love in the proper sense either. I know I’ll likely get people complaining in the responses who have meaningless sex all the time and who aren’t harmed by it, telling me that I’m being overly judgmental of their lifestyle, but I’m not.
If that works for you, then yeah that’s good I suppose. I would, however, ask if you know for a fact that every person you had sex with left the encounter feeling like it was a positive experience. But that’s the problem with hook-ups.
You can’t guarantee that every person is going to leave it feeling like it was a good, positive experience. Even if it felt good, it might have messed with them emotionally. That’s why we have girls on college campuses who sometimes report regretful sex as sexual assault.
These young people don’t know that sometimes hookups are going to leave them feeling dirty or shameful. They don’t know that sometimes even good sex can make them feel bad emotionally because every sexual act is an intimate transaction. One that may not end in commitment.
I say all this not because I’m some kind of frigid prude who thinks people shouldn’t have sex. I say it because I love sex, and being intimate with a meaningful partner. I say it because I wish people had the same kind of joy that I have and many others have in their encounters with their intimate partners.
I say it because I’m deeply troubled that people are now believing that hookup culture hurts no one and that it suits everyone. I say it because I worry that sexual ignorance is going to breed harsher policies on college campuses and elsewhere.
I say it because we’re in a culture where more than half of all marriages fail and this affects everyone. I say it because if we don’t say it, we’re looking at several more generations of children without fathers or mothers. We’re looking at generations of kids who don’t know what healthy relationships look like and who will wander through a sexual wasteland as adults, trying to find what’s missing.
This is the price of the sexual revolution, being paid in full by children of divorce. “It’s not hurting anyone,” is the message that traveled across the land, and left a mark. Echoes of it still remain and linger in the consciousness of our culture, and maybe it’s time that we put a stop to it.
Sex is worth having, but it does have repercussions. Sex can be a wonderful beautiful experience and strong relationships can create all sorts of wonderful things. Sex is emotional, and every act has the potential to leave a mark. You leave something with someone, a memory, an emotional mark. Just make sure it’s a mark you feel comfortable leaving behind.