10 Myths about Premarital Sex and Young Adults


#1

Another thread is talking about the book Premarital Sex: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, And Think About Marrying. The dust jacket blub from my copy claims that it is “...the fullest portrait of heterosexuality among young adults ever produced.” And authors' basic conclusion is that young adults (ages 18-24) are having a very difficult time navigating the romantic waters that lead to marriage.

The authors, both American population research academics, look at 10 myths they uncovered about, well, marrying, mating and young adults:

  1. Long-term exclusivity is a fiction - 50% of all marriages last a lifetime, and extramarital affairs are an issue in only a small minority of marriages

  2. Sex is necessary in order to sustain a*new*or struggling relationship - they conclude that the sooner sex enters a relationship the sooner the relationship fail, and most relationships fail

  3. The sexual double standard is wrong and must be resisted - while women enjoy sex as much as men, they don't perceive it the same way men do and they set higher standards for their relationships

  4. Men live up to, or down to, the price of sex - if they can get sex cheaply/easily, they won't work for it, but if a committed relationship is the price, they will pay

  5. People make their own decisions about sexuality regardless of what other people are doing - in other words, if everybody around you is having sex, it become really hard for you to do otherwise

  6. Porn won’t affect your relationships - because so many men look at porn regularly it's shaping what the authors term "sexual market dynamics," putting real woman in the position of having to compete with porn stars.

  7. Everyone else is having more sex than you are - young people generally overestimate exactly how much sex is actually going on around them

  8. Sex can easily be "no-strings attached" - it's emotionally difficult for both sexes, but especially women, to engage in casual hook-ups

  9. Marriage can always wait - the authors encourage young people who've met someone who's marriagable to think twice about not being ready to marry

  10. Moving in together is a step toward marriage - living togather usually leads to a breakup with a few years

My only qualm is with #9. The authors included 18- and 19- year olds in their research, and as the mother of 10-year-old daughters I'm not sure if I want them married at that age, even if they're convinced they've met Mr. Right. But that's just me.

The rest of these myths, however, I'm seriously thinking into turning into a poster that I can hang in their room when they're 16. :)

What do you think about these myths?


#2

I agree that caution is advised on marrying young. Kids these days are still growing up and figuring out who they are well into their twenties. Kids sense of self changes greatly when they leave home and go to college, and then it changes greatly again in the years after college as they enter the real world. I would not recommend making a lifelong commitment to another person when you are not yet totally solidified in who you are. Just my perception.

Otherwise I agree with much of this. I am particularly struck by #7, the perception that everyone else is having more sex than you. One of the side effects about talking about people talking about sex a lot is that people now feel they need to compare their sex lives to everyone else, and I think it leaves people feeling like they’re doing something wrong if they’re not having sex N times per week, or whatever. I suspect that leads to a lot of anxiety for some people, that somehow they’re not measuring up, or missing out, or something.


#3

I actually quite agree with #9. In my experience, young marriages work every bit as well as the later ones and actually have many advantages over the later ones. If my daughters (I have six, from ages 12 down to 1), found a good Catholic boy to marry at the age of 18 or 19, I would be delighted and supportive.

I was 22 when I married, the oldest in my family to do so. My sisters married at 20 and 19, respectively. They are still happily married now, almost 14 and almost 12 years later.

There is no particular reason why “today’s young people” continue to act like children well into adulthood – except that they can. So they do. So what if they are continuing to “grow and develop”? They can do that TOGETHER. :wink:


#4

[quote="Bobby_Jim, post:2, topic:248138"]
I am particularly struck by #7, the perception that everyone else is having more sex than you. One of the side effects about talking about people talking about sex a lot is that people now feel they need to compare their sex lives to everyone else, and I think it leaves people feeling like they're doing something wrong if they're not having sex N times per week, or whatever. I suspect that leads to a lot of anxiety for some people, that somehow they're not measuring up, or missing out, or something.

[/quote]

I agree. We're all of us engulfed in this hypersexualized culture, quite the opposite of the days when s-e-x was t-a-b-o-o, and I think is has made people anxious about the quality of their sex lives.


#5

[quote="Sillara, post:3, topic:248138"]
I actually quite agree with #9. In my experience, young marriages work every bit as well as the later ones and actually have many advantages over the later ones. If my daughters (I have six, from ages 12 down to 1), found a good Catholic boy to marry at the age of 18 or 19, I would be delighted and supportive.

I was 22 when I married, the oldest in my family to do so. My sisters married at 20 and 19, respectively. They are still happily married now, almost 14 and almost 12 years later.

There is no particular reason why "today's young people" continue to act like children well into adulthood -- except that they can. So they do. So what if they are continuing to "grow and develop"? They can do that TOGETHER. ;)

[/quote]

You bring up some really interesting points.

I think much of this has to do with both our and our familiar experiences. Unlike your family, with the exception of one couple everyone in mine who married before they were 24 has gotten divorced. The exception are my parents-in-law, who married at 21 and 19 42 years ago and are quite happily married today :D. But everybody else, including my mother, who married at 22? Divorced. :(

Right now we're struggling with my niece, who married two years ago at 18 and is now separated and is in the process of divorcing. She's also living with a new boyfriend, and tells people that she's really glad her "starter marriage" is under her belt. Try explaining that one to 10-year-olds.


#6

In my experience, divorces have more to do with the family history of divorce, rather than the ages of those involved.

On my husband’s side, EVERYONE has divorced at least once, some (like my mother-in-law) multiple times. He is the only one not to have divorced as far back as his grandparents go. Both sets of them divorced, too.

On my side, until my aunt divorced, no one had at all. Though my cousins did not marry until after my aunt had divorced – I was already married myself then-- they have since divorced, as well. They both married in their late 20s or early 30s.

My children have no personal experience with divorce, as we live in Japan and their divorced relatives live in the USA. However, my children do know about such things in the abstract. They are history buffs, and Henry VIII is a favorite story of theirs. They view him as an unmitigated villain, and when they come across such things in real life, though they do not say anything to the people involved, they are revolted by the notion of divorce.

That said, my oldest is determined to be a nun or sister, depending on the convent. She has already narrowed her choice of convents to two. And she plans to join right after high school.


#7

IMO age has very little to do with divorce likelihood. Rather it is the conversion status. Among my friends who are highly active in their faith (prayer groups, bible study, frequent sacraments, regular prayer time), NOT ONE is divorced. (I’m 40 and the group of friends I’m referring to here ranges from 34 to 45 in age). Many of these friends married young - right out of college. Among my work colleagues and non-religious family, the divorce rate is about 50%. Could hardly be more dramatically different.


#8

I don’t get #4. The myth seems to say the same thing as the rebuttal that follows. Among worldly men, I’d say that’s sadly true. I once heard it put: “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” OUCH! That’s an awfully crude and narcicisstic way of looking at it, but I suspect there are an awful lot of men for whom it is true.

#2 is not necessarily true. I think the authors MISSED a hazard of premarital sex there. Sex by its very nature creates a strong bond between people. But outside of marriage, this bond can actually blind one or both to the fact that they are WRONG for each other. As a result, they extend a doomed relationship far longer than it would have lasted without sex. No wonder people marry so old these days (if at all). It’s foolish to continue to date somebody who you’d never marry.
Tell me you don’t know a couple that is totally wrong for each other, but they take forever to break it off. They wake up one day and are 40 and still single and wonder what happened.


#9

110% Agree! Couple of generations ago, people got married at age 18 or even younger, and you didn’t have people struggling to stay chaste right through their 20’s, in their best time to have children. All this education we are encouraging/demanding that our young people complete…IMO a lot of it may be unnecessary and when the heck will they ever fully become adults?? I think 22 or 23 is like the top edge of what is best for marriage.

:smiley:


#10

It’s worse than that, unfortunately. Marriage is not exactly a great prospect for men either - not when the women are so independent that they need men approximately as much as “a fish needs a bicycle.” If things go wrong, men are vulnerable in many ways and can be accused of abuse, be accused of all sorts of horrific things, end up divorced and kept from seeing their own kids… If not jailed for sexual crimes. It’s a bleak picture, and why go through that at all when a LOT of women are promiscuous anyway?


#11

Uh, because beneath the macho veneer, men need to love, protect and provide for, not just conquer and self indulge. They’re buried deeper, but men actually have feelings too… :wink:


#12

[quote="manualman, post:11, topic:248138"]
Uh, because beneath the macho veneer, men need to love, protect and provide for, not just conquer and self indulge. They're buried deeper, but men actually have feelings too... ;)

[/quote]

Oh believe me, I know that! I didn't mean to make it sound as though men don't have feelings. Most men aren't usually even macho any more, feminism has beaten it out of you.


#13

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:10, topic:248138"]
It's worse than that, unfortunately. Marriage is not exactly a great prospect for men either - not when the women are so independent that they need men approximately as much as "a fish needs a bicycle." If things go wrong, men are vulnerable in many ways and can be accused of abuse, be accused of all sorts of horrific things, end up divorced and kept from seeing their own kids.. If not jailed for sexual crimes. It's a bleak picture, and why go through that at all when a LOT of women are promiscuous anyway?

[/quote]

Why go through all of that? Promiscuous people fall in love eventually, too. :shrug:
Thankfully, not all men subscribe to that ridiculous 'cow-milk' philosophy.

About marriage and women's independence - frankly it s sad that some might see women being able to be independent as something that infringes on men's rights.

It's a wonderful thing that I can be with a man because I want to, not because I need to.


closed #14

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