Messing Around - With Your Mind!
On this site, we discuss a lot of the dangers teens face from sexual activity. While none of them are perfect, there are steps that teens can take to protect themselves physically. But there is NO condom for the heart or for the mind. Engaging in sexual activity before one is truly ready - or "giving it away" too freely - can have REAL emotional consequences. Some of these may pass; others can even affect your marriage years later.
Just some of these:
*STRESS. Isn't high school (or college) stressful enough? Between classes, SATs, working, family, friends, trying out for the squad, worrying about who's dating who, applying for college (or grad school or a job), etc., etc., etc., do you REALLY need to worry about catching AIDS or getting pregnant? (Hint: no, you don't.)
*REGRET. This is especially true in the case of the young ladies. It's a Mars/Venus thing. Girls are more vulnerable. They see sex as a way of showing you care. Most boys don't. They see sex as a way of having sex. So when a girl has sex and the guy is not more interested (or actually becomes less interested because, you know, now his curiosity has been satisfied), the girl may become upset or frustrated. (Of course, not all girls feel this way and not all boys feel that way, but these are common gender differences.) It's naive to expect that sex will keep your partner and the regret over having sex in an uncommitted relationship can last for years.
*GUILT. Unlike regret, which is a negative feeling in response to your choices, guilt is a feeling of having done something inherently or morally wrong. Guilt can be a healthy and positive feeling when channeled properly - we call it our conscience. But after the fact, guilt can be a terrible, unproductive emotion. One could feel guilty for violating the tenets of one's religion or for doing something that would disappoint one's parent's. One can feel guilty for doing something you promised yourself you wouldn't. One can feel guilty over putting their bf or gf through emotional turmoil. Feelings of guilt years later often make people feel too much like a hypocrite to provide their own kids with proper guidance in this area.
*LOSS OF SELF-RESPECT. Catching an STD can be crippling for one's self-image. Over 80% of those with herpes say they feel less confident and less attractive. Sexual activity in a passing relationship can lower the self-esteem of both partners. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which low self-esteem makes someone feel bad, which causes them to engage in promiscuous behavior, which makes them feel worse and around it goes.
*DEBASEMENT. In addition to loss of self-respect, treating one's self and others as sexual objects can actually corrupt one's character, affecting traits such as respect, caring and self-control. The lack of self-control is correlated to problems in society including marital infidelity, rape, sexual harassment and the sexual abuse of children. You can't just turn self-restraint off and on. (Think we're kidding? Read "Rape!" )
*COMMITMENT ISSUES. Teens who "give it away" and then break up often feel used or betrayed. This can cause problems in building future healthy relationships.
*ANGER. If someone gets dumped, they may get angry. That's normal. When sex is involved, it's worse. Sex is an incredibly strong bond. When such a relationship dissolves, the emotional pain on the part of the dumpee is much greater. (We've got three words for you: Stalker; Restraining order.)
*DEPRESSION. Breaking off a sexually active relationship is not only more likely to cause anger, it's more likely to cause depression. Not sadness, full-blown depression. Depression often leads to suicide. (Want more scary statistics? Read "Suicide!" )
*RELATIONSHIP KILLER. Many relationships go south after they turn sexual. Instead of spending time together, the couple meets to "hook up." Non-sexual aspects of the relationship are overlooked. Caring relationships that were just starting to develop become casual flings and stop growing. People stop trying to know each other for real once they "know" each other in the Biblical sense.
*STUNTS PERSONAL GROWTH. Some people turn to sex to cope with their anxieties the way that other people turn to drugs and alcohol. It's no more effective. A teen who needs help with life's pressures should be reaching out to others in a positive sense - forming the emotional bonds of friendship and mutual support. Turning to sex is just personal gratification. It focuses one's attentions inside in a selfish fashion, instead of helping young people grow emotionally and socially.
Sure, sex feels good and is a basic human need - in its proper context. When taken on too early, with the wrong person, or with too many people, sex is a source of much anxiety and suffering. You can try to make yourself physically safe, but sex is only emotionally safe in a mutually supportive, committed relationship.
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