What’s love got to do with it?
Purity and chastity seem to be virtues that have gone out of fashion. The crisis of values has led many young people to see sex as the center of their dating relationship. Sexually active men are considered “winners” and women “experienced,” while someone who saves him or herself in chastity is taken to be a prude, sexually incapable, or repressed by the Church. However, the reality is completely the opposite. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons to promote sexual abstinence among our youth.
1. It promotes good communication in dating. When a couple practices abstinence, their communication is good because they are not just focused on pleasure but on the joy of sharing their views and experiences; moreover, their conversations are deeper. By contrast, physical intimacy is an easy way to relate, but it overshadows other forms of communication. It is a way of avoiding the real work involved in emotional intimacy, like talking about deep personal issues and working on the basic differences between the two of you.
2. The friendship in your relationship grows. Physical closeness can lead teenagers think they are emotionally close, when in fact they are not. A romantic relationship essentially consists in cultivating a friendship, and there is no friendship without conversation and shared interests. Personal conversation creates friendships and helps us to discover one another and get to know the other’s qualities and flaws. Some young people are driven by passion, and when they get to know each other more deeply, they end up disenchanted. And they did not get to know each other because they never got to be friends; instead, they were “friends with benefits.”
3. There is a better relationship with both sets of parents. When men and women respect each other, their love matures and improves their friendship with both sets of parents. Generally, parents prefer their unmarried children to live lives of sexual continence, and they are concerned if they know their children are sexually active without being married. When a couple knows they have to hide their sexual relations, their guilt and stress grow. Couples who decide to wait relate more amicably with their own parents and with their beloved’s parents.
4. You feel more free to question whether you should continue the relationship. Sexual relationships have the power to strongly unite two people, and can prolong an unhealthy relationship based on physical attraction or the need for security. A person may feel “trapped” in a relationship that they would like to end, but they can’t find their way out. A person who is not having sex can more easily break the emotional bond to the other, because there has not been such powerful intimacy on the physical level. Moreover, if the woman gets pregnant, both partners do not feel as free to decide to get separated, get married, go to work, and so on.
5. It encourages generosity instead of selfishness. Sexual relations in dating can lead to selfishness and a focus on self-satisfaction. They can lead people to feel like they are competing with others whom their partner may find more attractive. It fosters insecurity and selfishness, because when you get sexually intimate, the tendency is to ask for more and more.
6. There is less risk of physical or verbal abuse. Sex outside of marriage is associated with violence and other forms of abuse. For example, there is more than twice the physical aggression among couples living together without any commitment than among married couples. There is less jealousy and less selfishness in dating couples who decide to postpone sexual activity than in those who are driven by passion.
7. It increases the repertoire of ways to show affection. The couple who practices abstinence finds new ways to show affection; they must use inventiveness and ingenuity to have a good time and to demonstrate their interest in each other. The relationship becomes stronger as they have more opportunities to get to know each other’s character and habits, and learn the ways to maintain the relationship.
8. The couple is more likely to succeed in marriage. Research has shown that couples who have cohabited are more likely to divorce than those who have not cohabited.
9. If you decide to break off the relationship, it will hurt less.The ties that sexual activity forms bind us strongly to the other person, so if there is a break-up, the resulting pain is more intense. When you have not been physically intimate and decide to break up, the separation is less devastating.
10. Most importantly, you’ll feel better about yourself. Sexually active adolescents often lose their self-esteem and admit that they live with guilt. When they decide to let go of physical intimacy, they feel new and grow as people. They enhance their intellectual, artistic, and social potential as they put all that creative energy into developing their talents.