February 3, 2010
Sex: A Timeline
Sex is something that people think about all the time, but never discuss. Sex is one of the greatest things about being an adult. When we are young, it is new, exciting, scary and forbidden. It can take a minute to understand, even longer to enjoy, and a lifetime to perfect.
No one really explains sex to you when you are young. They talk about the mechanics of it, but there is no discussion about how it feels, or how it can affect you emotionally or spiritually. We are taught what it is, but not what it means.
When you date in your teenage years, it is a cloud that hangs over your head. When will you do it? How will it be? Is everyone doing it? Will I get in trouble? What if I get pregnant? There is a lot to worry about, and you wish you were in your twenties so it would be easier.
When you reach your twenties, it changes again. Now everyone is doing it, and the stress of the first time, and being young, are gone. Fear is replaced by guilt. Will he think I’m a slut? How many other people has he slept with? Will he compare me to others? What can I do without compromising myself? Am I doing it right?
You wish you were in your thirties, married and done with dating. You are confident in who you are, and aware of what you like. With marriage, you lose the guilt. You can experiment in a safe and comfortable relationship, which can provide a totally fulfilling sex life.
So now you’re married, and the sex is great, and often. Then you have kids, and it’s still great, but not often. Then life takes over, and it becomes the cloud hanging over your head again. You need to schedule, plan and time it. Excitement is replaced by obligation, and passion is replaced by mechanics.
In your forties you’ve left the marriage and are now starting over. The fear of teenage sex returns, and the guilt of twenties sex is back. The safety and fearlessness of thirties sex has vanished, and you are now in your sexual prime, with no idea what to do, how to do it, where to find it, or how to trust yourself.
I’m not sure what sex will be like in the fifties and beyond, but I imagine it all reverts back, and eventually we are right where we started. We spend a lifetime trying to understand it, when the truth is, sex is a cruel joke that life plays on you.
When it first appears, you are confused. By the time you figure it out, you are unable to do anything with it. Dating at 40 is horrific because of sex. The pressures have always been there, we were just too stupid to know about them, or even care. Now we are all to clear what is going on.
They say youth is wasted on the young. I would argue that sex is wasted on the young. If only we knew when we were young, what we know as adults. The entire process would be less painful and more enjoyable. Sex is this hugely powerful thing that is given no clout and labeled bad, when it’s really a part of life that should be respected.
The truth is that sex is great. I am not afraid to say it. It should be valued and enjoyed, not feared and shunned. Perhaps people would be kinder if they were having more sex? Perhaps life would be a little less complicated, and more fun, if people were not so scared of sex?
I have a teenage son and it is terrifying to think that one day he will have sex. Now sex is like homework. It’s something I know I need to talk to him about, but just like algebra, I don’t understand it, and can’t offer much help. All I can do is pray he waits a long time, and keep the faith.