If Netflix told us an apple was the “ideal” fruit, would we try to make oranges, pineapples, pears, and grapes all look and taste like apples?
We are all made differently, yet we often think we’ll feel like we fit in or belong better if we act like whatever the “ideal” is. And when casual sex is seen as the ideal behavior, we join right in, thinking that will make us happy.
But deep down inside, all that acting can backfire. Doesn’t it get old pretending to be apples when we are really oranges?
The Lies We are Told
Part of the problem is that when we hear the same lies over and over, we start to believe them. We hear:
“If you’re still a virgin, you’re missing out.”
“You must be weird/ugly/unlovable if you’re not sleeping with anybody.”
“Everybody’s doing it. You should too.”
“How do you know you’re in love if you haven’t had sex yet?”
But those lies are just that: lies.
Those messages can be easy to believe because they dig at our normal human desires to belong, to be loved, and to enjoy life. Now, there is nothing wrong with those normal desires. The danger lies in how we pursue our desires. We can choose good pursuits that preserve our dignity and the dignity of others. Those pursuits are most likely to bring us lasting joy. Or we can live like hungry animals, intent on self-fulfillment. When that happens, we become selfish. And selfishness makes us blind to what’s really good for us—and others.
Once headed down the road of selfishness, we start ignoring the danger signs.
Don’t Ignore These Danger Signs
Unhealthy relationships. If we’re counting on the people in our lives to make us feel we belong, we may settle for—or even create—unhealthy relationships. One sign of this is when we become obsessive about keeping a partner loyal to us. (For more on obsessive relationships, go here.) Another sign is allowing someone to treat us badly because we desperately hope they won’t leave us. In reality, we deserve (and desire) relationships where both partners respect each other. Here’s why respect is important.
STIs: Sexually Transmitted Infections. When we buy the lie that sexual activity will show we are loved or “accepted,” we may ignore the dangers of sexually transmitted infections. The high risk of getting STIs is one of our culture’s worst best-kept secrets. Those ugly secrets are lurking in the history of any partner who has had sex with someone else before. And the more sexual partners we have, the greater our chances of getting (and passing on) STIs.
Unintended pregnancy. Sex makes babies. We know this. But we go ahead, thinking “protected sex” is safe sex—another lie. The only 100% sure way to keep from making babies is not having sex (a.k.a., abstinence). If we don’t want to be pregnant, then why should we have sex? Yet we rush right past that danger sign. Then an unintended pregnancy forces us to make some really tough decisions.
Disappointment with life. This danger sign can get lost in our emotional fog. When we feel life is letting us down, we may not connect that feeling with our behavior choices. But choosing to be sexually active has an impact on our emotions, our health, and our outlook for the future. So if our choice is not having the positive impact we want, then it’s time to make better choices.
It Comes Down to This: Sex Can’t Be Everything
Expecting our sex lives to fulfill all our desires to belong, to be loved, and to enjoy life is like expecting a twig to support an elephant. Sex was never meant to carry a load that size. When we’re tired of the letdown that happens when our relationships fail to deliver all we want, we know it’s time for a change.
At Choices Pregnancy Center, there is help available for people who want to make that kind of change. This is a place where we can get real answers to questions like:
- How can I have more satisfying relationships?
- How can I start fresh and make better choices for my life?
- What do I need to do differently?
- How can I be sure I matter and I am worthy of love?
Isn’t it time to make a change?