Quantity is a poor substitute for quality. Numerous superficial and shallow encounters with different sexual partners do not satisfy a person’s deeper needs.
What can be said of today’s “hook-up culture” where individuals fall into bed with each other not even knowing the other person?
It is not necessarily sex per se that those promiscuous individuals are seeking. It is likely the thrill, the rush of sexual novelty that motivates their behavior.
Taking a step back, one may rightly wonder what are people truly hungering for?
Perhaps, deep down inside they are hungering for connection, an intimate connection with another person. And, although sexual intimacy can deepen one’s connection to another person, it cannot build the loving emotional connection by itself. And, because the thrill and excitement of physical sex is so strong, it is wise not to rush into sex with someone before you have developed some emotional connection to that person. A person can fall prey to the pleasure of having sex with another person and his/her judgment may be clouded. Sure, you can have fun sex with a person that you may not even like, much less love, once you get to know him/her, if you get to know him/her.
To more fully and deeply achieve an intimate connection with another person (partner) involves becoming vulnerable, allowing one’s self to drop the defenses and embrace vulnerability. For many, this is an obstacle. People fear vulnerability as they do not want any imperfections to show through the mask, the persona they project for others to see. We might say that a person has to work for, sacrifice for an intimate connection with another person. Sadly, many individuals do not want to make the sacrifice for such connection. They do not want to give of themselves. Perhaps, because they fear being hurt. Perhaps, because to be giving of themselves is foreign to their nature, to who they really are.
One might opine that such sex without connection is merely mutual masturbation. Casual sexual intimacy without true emotional connection and emotional intimacy is dehumanizing. Why? We are more than just our physical bodies and our physical appetites. We can choose to ignore or minimize our emotional, psychological and spiritual needs, but that state of denial does not make those needs go away.
For those who make the effort with another person who also is willing to make the effort. a deep emotional connection can be made and strengthened over time. Once you have this connection, you know how valuable and special it is. Then, you find that it is much easier to commit yourself to that person in mutual love.
other related thoughts
Let’s look at the cultural context of this hook-up, promiscuous sexual behavior. The message given to young people is that of a hedonist and licentious paradigm where personal responsibility and self-control are ignored or minimized. The idea or theme of “liberation” (and “rights”) is taken to grotesque extremes and can lead a person to think that if he/she has had 100 different sexual partners he/she is more liberated than if they only have had 50 sexual partners. The culture and its messaging (in the sex ed in the schools, in entertainment (movies, television, music, books), in the lives of many of its celebrities and sports heroes, in various social movements such as feminism) encourages a prolonged emotional adolescence in the young where marriage, commitment and family formation are postponed and even shunned completely. And, for those who do eventually marry, some find it very difficult to live a monogamous life after having lived a sexually promiscuous one for many years. This was not always the case in the US. Prior to the mid 1960s, one did not see this hedonistic, self-centered message in the culture at large, only at the fringes.
Another feature of our culture is that we have the culture and biology opposed to each other, or, if you will, working at cross purposes. Taking into account history and cultural anthropology, we see a rather unusual, if not unique situation in the modern Western world. The onset of physical sexual maturation (aka puberty) is occurring earlier than ever before in the young at the same time that economic demands and conditions lead young adults to postpone marriage to much later ages than in previous generations. (We have written on this back in the summer of 2012 on this blog.) It may be the hormone residues in the meats and dairy products that our children consume that are responsible for this much earlier pubescence than in our grandparents’ day. Perhaps a return to a diet free of such hormones would help to correct this. As well, in many countries today, students are out of high school (or secondary school) at age 16 and then can go on to college or a trade school and thus be able to enter the workforce by age 20. This does happen in many countries. The US opted to add 2 additional years to its public schooling a century or so ago, and this has not been seriously questioned. Making year round schools could see students graduate high school by age 16 in the US. As well, if college professors were required to teach more courses each term and not be allowed so many sabbaticals, university students could finish a degree once again in 4 years. Taking on responsibility earlier in their lives would likely help the mental and emotional maturation process along for them.
But, these practical considerations aside, the point is that we have young people who are both capable of sex and desirous of sex for many years before they could possibly marry. This is a recipe for problems and in the US we have not addressed this properly. Instead, we have opted to treat the many symptoms of the problem, often times violently (as with abortion for pregnant teenagers and college coeds, or with compulsory, problematic vaccinations (such as Gardasil) in an attempt to prevent the negative effects (consequences) of viruses spread through sexual contact).
A little food for thought.
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