Authors note: This post is one of several in a series. The entire series titled Sex Before Remarriage, can be found under Sexuality or Second Time Around, on the menu bar.
Take Two. The heart speaks: Although not specifically addressing sex before marriage there is considerable research on living together before marriage (cohabiting) and it isn’t favorable. The success rate for cohabiting couples is abysmal, and there are very specific reasons why. I believe the drawbacks for sex outside of commitment, and living together before marriage, are very similar. Any time a couple slides into a relationship rather than consciously choosing it, trouble ensues.
One of the drawbacks for women is losing their power in a relationship by moving in with a man, which includes a sexual relationship, without mutual commitment. He is still trying to decide if she is ‘the one’ and she’s waiting around for him to figure it out. There is added urgency for her if her biological clock is ticking away. Any time there is an imbalance of commitment in a relationship it is difficult. The one who is the least committed/loves the least, automatically has the emotional power in the relationship. I’ve coached a number of women who want more than anything to be cherished by their guy but instead end up feeling little more than tolerated. He has little motivation to step it up and figure out what he wants if they are already in a sexual relationship. Men can have their own version of this but by and large it is women who are left waiting in the unknown zone.
A sexual relationship can cause a woman to feel like a wife with all the wifely ‘rights’ including financial security, exclusivity, time together, etc. These things can put a lot of pressure on the man who just wants someone to hang with and have sex with as is convenient for him. Again, two opposing relationship views.
I recently counseled a man who was confused by the women he was dating. He had honestly told all these women that he was seeing several other women and that he was sexually active with all of them. Every one told him that they were fine with that. That was until sex came into the picture. Then they got clingy, jealous, possessive and hurt. My take on this is that as long as the conversation was an intellectual one, sex with others was ok. After sex came into the picture the conversation shifted from being merely intellectual to a heart/soul/biology conversation and it wasn’t ok any more. In other words it was ok with the head but it wasn’t ok with the heart. All the body parts have to agree when it comes to sex or misery ensues. (Another important place for a balance of sexual values.)
I’m told that modern, sexually enlightened women (mostly young women) just want the sex and don’t care about marriage or commitment. That may be, but I’m certain that it takes more than a one night stand to create the space for the deepest, most gratifying sexual experience – for men and women alike – which I (hope) imagine is what we are all ultimately after. Sex is different for women. I just don’t buy it when I hear women say they can walk away from a sexual encounter with the same detachment as men can. If a woman thinks she can do this I believe she is in some way out of touch with her own soul. She may not be consciously aware of the impact of that sexual encounter, but it will impact her nonetheless.
Sex is designed to bond the two. It is my belief that a portion of our energetic blueprint is left behind with every person with whom we have a sexual experience. If the ultimate goal is success for a future long-term partnership, doesn’t it make sense to keep all of oneself intact to bring into a future relationship, and not part ourselves out among many?
And since we’re talking about the heart it is worth noting that if your relationship ends, whether you end it or the other person does, that chemical bond makes the breakup oh so much harder. Even if you discover that other person is a complete jerk, or even dangerous, the chemical bond makes it that much harder to say goodbye. Hormones/chemicals are powerful. Many people will return again and again to a relationship they know isn’t good for them until they finally get the momentum, and a lot of support, to make the break.
Having sex also makes it harder to make good relationship choices while in the dating (i.e. selection) process. “Sure he yells at me, but the sex is good.” “I know she wants my money more than me, but heck, if that gets me sex…” Neither of those are useful approaches to life-partnering. The chemical bond can make it (seem) so much easier to stay in an unsuitable relationship rather than cut ties and start over. The conscious dating approach would have you stay at a less intimate level with your dates until you are sure, yes, doubly sure, that the person you are choosing to have sex with is going to be around for a while, i.e. that you have agreed to mutual commitment – in both words and actions.
Next post: View Three. Delaying gratification. An important relationship skill.