Sex and Dating: Sacred or scandalous?

James Love, Ph.D.

Sex, also known as “doing the nasty” or “making sweet, sweet love,” is an ever-present component of the human condition, particularly in college. To deny that people have sex on college campuses is to deny that fish swim in water. Sex, like love, is a many-splendored thing. It is important to note that love and sex are like peanut butter and jelly. They go great together, but they’re naturally separate. The choice to mix the two is simply that—a choice.

College is a great time to figure out who you are and what you like. It’s a great time, and one of the only socially acceptable times, to experiment sexually. Sex is a great way to relieve frustrations and it’s good exercise and can be a lot of fun. It can also be an expression of love and a time for expressing to someone how much you care about them. This is evident by the range of sexual styles from dirty, intense, hot candle-wax-on-chest and nails-digging-into-your-back sex; to soft, loving, I’ve-never-felt-closer-to-you gentleness-in-your-warm-fingertips sex. The transitory period of college is an excellent time to figure out what’s really important to you.

Is sex sacred? In other words, isn’t it better to wait for marriage, to share the intimacy of sex with one partner? The answer is subjective. If there is nothing sexier to you than an untouched partner, then by all means wait for marriage. On the other hand, if you believe sexual compatibility to be a factor in a long term relationship (in an attempt to avoid the cucumber-in-pencil sharpener and toothpick-in-volcano scenarios), then it may be in your best interest to try it before you buy it.

Isn’t it scandalous to have sex with multiple partners? It’s true that sex comes with risks, such as sexually transmitted diseases including gonorrhea and babies, as well as infatuation and pulling a ligament. Reproduction is a necessary condition for living things. In mammals, the urge to reproduce is simply a biological condition. For humans, the decision to mate is strongly influenced by the development of contraception. This has allowed humans to make the choice to have sex for recreation, instead of just procreation.

People have sex for a variety of different reasons. This includes, but is not limited to: satisfaction of a biological urge, boredom, attraction, revenge, expression of love, exercise, blackmail, and lowered inhibitions. The problem with sex is that it is a game-changer. Doing it can cause the above mentioned risks, and the potential infatuation can lead to disagreements in relationship status. Because wants and expectations change over time, it is important to be courteous and respectful of your partners. Sex doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Some people want to keep things special, and others just need release. Sometimes, signals get crossed or scrambled, and someone gets hurt or feels used. To avoid this, be responsible, and don’t be afraid to engage in open discourse about your wants and expectations. Be aware that afterwards, things may be different. Sex is a healthy and natural part of life, but it is important to understand the risks involved.

Whether sex is sacred or scandalous is subjective. Whatever you decide, being responsible is the key to being emotionally balanced.