Psychological Self-Help

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1018
Deciding what sex means to you: What feeling does intercourse
symbolize for you?
It might be helpful to think of making your sexual life style
decisions by considering four alternatives. Each of the following
alternatives reflects a way of viewing sexual intercourse, in terms of
the meaning it has for you. Others can try to influence you, but in your
own heart only you can decide what meaning your sex acts will have
to you. Each alternative is an acceptable way to live; each has a
number of pros and cons, i.e. psychological reasons for and against
each way of thinking about sexual intercourse: 
In the first alternative, sex is fun and has no special meaning
beyond that. Sexual intercourse is for adventure, physical
gratification, and enriching the interaction between two people. When
sex is accepted merely as pleasurable passion, sex need not be taken
to mean anything more, i.e. not a sign of commitment, not a show of
love, and not an indication of any continuing emotional involvement
with the partner. This is typical of a "free spirit" who favors short
relationships or "one night stands." It would also include people who
realize they are primarily meeting each other's physical, erotic needs,
such as the "pick up" at a bar, cruising homosexuals, married
"swingers," persons seeking prostitutes, and continuing but sexually
oriented relationships. This is the mutual enjoyment of physical sex. 
Pros: It is potentially an adventurous, exciting, enjoyable
life style, if one can be honest with others and still find
interested sexual partners. This attitude about sex cleanly
separates lust from love, and since both emotions are
acceptable (as long as both people are honest), the two people
don't have to rush into or fake love in order to have sex. This
attitude may reduce the risk of lust leading to bonding with a
person who is a poor choice as a long-term partner. With about
70% of females and 80% of males sexually active by age 19
and with marriage commonly being postponed until the late
20's, there may be 10 or 15 years of sexual experience before
marriage. Between high school and marriage, many people will
have 2-4 serious relationships with several brief, uncommitted
experiences between the serious affairs. Over several years,
would you prefer to meet and go to dinner or a show with 100
interesting people or would you rather meet the same 100
people and have sex with 50 of them who are interested in
having sex with you? It is your choice; both are good choices. 
Cons: Even among college students, men having
intercourse with a great many women are considered "immoral"
by 25-30% of males and 40-45% of women (some states still
have laws against "fornication," i.e. premarital intercourse).
Likewise, very sexually active women are regarded as immoral
by somewhat higher percentages of men and women (the old
double standard). It is lust without love that is really
condemned in our culture. Only 1% of college women say they
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