My own research with working-class young adults leads me to believe that they have basically made peace with sexual permissiveness—at least outside of marriage—even as they retain some ambivalence about it. They tend to move in quickly with new romantic partners, even as they worry that people rush too quickly into relationships. From survey data, we know that people without a college education have more lifetime sexual partners than those with a college education, and that most of them see no problem with premarital sex.
But there is one problem: easy access to sex with multiple partners can make for complicated relationships. As sexual partners accumulate, so does the potential for distrust. As one man whose ex-girlfriend had cheated on him explained, “It’s gonna take a lot more time for me to ever trust somebody again like that. I let her in quick, and now it’s never gonna happen again.” One divorced man said simply, “Everyone has to watch their ass all the time.” There is the feeling that no one is safe—even in marriage. As another young man claimed, “Nowadays, even though you got a ring on your finger, people tend to look past that.”
So people describe keeping vigilant watch over their partners’ cell phones, policing for messages from exes. They live an all but married lifestyle, yet they say that they are hesitant to make the commitment of marriage. Why? Part of the reason is that they don’t trust their partner, or themselves, to remain in the marriage. In one survey, 42.5 percent of low-income, unmarried respondents cited “worry that the marriage would end in divorce” as a reason they might not be pursuing marriage, and 23.5 percent cited “questions about whether your partner is trustworthy.” As one young man that I interviewed said after learning that his fiancée was cheating on him, “I don’t trust nobody.”
That distrust is at least partly the legacy of the libertarian sexual ethic, which assumes that sexual activity outside of marriage is typically okay so long as people are mutually consenting to the acts. And that distrust is why I have a hard time believing—as Noah Smith does—that sexual permissiveness will somehow evolve into more stable marriages for the working class. (Indeed, having more sexual partners prior to marriage is linked to greater odds of divorce, as Nicholas Wolfinger and W. Bradford Wilcox recently documented.) There is no invisible hand that will transform James and Jessica’s distrust and cynicism, which stems in part from their multiple past sexual relationships, into trust and an enduring marriage. What the working class needs—what we all need—to achieve our shared aspirations for lifelong love and a stable family is social permission to date without immediately having sex.
That’s important because today young people often assume that withholding sex is a sign of distrust. As James said, if you begin a relationship and don’t have sex, “they automatically assume that you’re cheating.” But sliding into sex often translates into sliding into a relationship—and children—without first building trust and discerning for character and compatibility. And that slide often contributes to the erosion of trust in the opposite sex and in lifelong love. We must confront that reality if we’re serious about empowering working young adults to achieve trusting relationships.
“Withholding sex” makes it sound bad. You don’t have sex or even do sexual things before marriage because you are trying to prove to your partner that you have self-control enough that when you are married, he/she need not be concerned that you are OK with sex outside of a lifelong commitment. You restrain yourself in order to prove to the other person that you have what it takes in order to be trusted, and the other person does the same to you. It’s not that you are trying to reduce the amount of “fun” you are having, it’s that you are auditioning for a role, and this is what the other person needs to see from you during the courtship – chastity. Chastity demonstrates to them that the commitment you are offering is not based on things that fade, like beauty or youth.
Dad sent me this article from the Daily Signal. Let’s look at it, then I’ll give my opinion on this research.
Cohabiting couples are more prone to break up (and break up for good) than married couples
Even after marrying, women who cohabitated prior to marriage are more apt to separate or divorce than those who did not.
Men who cohabit tend to make less money than their married counterparts
Among young mothers, married women are more financially secure than cohabiting women
Cohabiting couples report more depression and more alcohol problems than married couples
The key points for me:
1. Cohabiting couples are more prone to break up (and break up for good) than married couples. In the May 2003 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family Study, Georgina Binstock and Arland Thornton found that, in the first year of living together, couples who cohabited were eight times more likely to end their relationships than those who were married. In the second and third years, those rates decreased to four and three times more likely, respectively. And when it comes to getting back together after a breakup, cohabiting couples were about a third less likely to get back together again.
2. Even after marrying, women who cohabitated prior to marriage are more apt to separate or divorce than those who did not. One study demonstrated that for women who lived with their partners before marriage, it was 33 percent more likely for their marriages to result in separation or divorce.
5. Cohabiting couples report more depression and more alcohol problems than married couples. Even when controlling for race, age and gender, cohabiting individuals reported higher levels of depression than married ones, 2.8 points according to one study. In another study, cohabiting individuals were three times more likely to report having problems with alcohol consumption than those who were married, as well as 25 percent more problems than single people who did not cohabit. Cohabiting women indicated more alcohol problems than married women—and men who cohabited said they had more alcohol problems than both married and single men.
This article from the UK Daily Mail that Dina sent me says that 9 in 10 children being born now will see their parents split by the time the children reach 16.
Nearly nine out of ten babies born to co-habiting parents this year will have seen their family break up by the time they reach the age of 16, says a study.
Half of all children born this year will not be living with both natural parents when they reach their mid-teens, and almost all those who suffer family breakdown will be the children of unmarried parents, added the report.
The study, based on figures from the national census and large-scale academic surveys, extrapolates from current trends and calculates that just 9 per cent of babies born to cohabiting couples today will still have their parents living together by the time they are 16.
The report adds that the declining popularity of marriage and the rise of co-habitation will damage the lives of increasing numbers of children.
The figures were produced by researcher Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation think tank, who said: ‘The report provides solid evidence that married parents are more stable than unmarried parents.
[…]The study by the think tank, which is headed by High Court family division judge Sir Paul Coleridge, was based on findings from the census of 2001 and recent results from Understanding Society, a government-backed survey which charts the lives of people in 40,000 homes.
The report said that in 2001, four out of ten teenagers aged 15 were not living with both parents, and among the parents of 15-year-olds who stayed together, 97 per cent were married.
The article is from 2013, but I don’t see why things would have gotten any better. We are even more supportive as a society now of adult selfishness and less inclined to take care in our courting so that children are not deprived of fathers and/or mothers through our poor decision making.
So I’ve had experiences mentoring two women who started off as Christian, fell away from Christianity, then returned to the faith. Both of them spend time cohabitating with atheist men. So when I read numbers like the ones above, I want to warn Christian parents. You should not assume that your daughter will always be a Christian when you are raising them. You have to talk to them about these issues and share these numbers with them. Although you can start by telling them what the Bible says, you have to go on from there to explain what a romantic relationship looks like between Christians, and what happens to people who reject the Bible and start having premarital sex.
An article from the American Thinker answers the question that vexes many men. As you read this excerpt below, ask yourself if it is a man or a woman writing this.
First of all, liberal women seem to be having an awful lot of sex these days. They are losing their virginity early, and working their way through as many “alpha males” as possible, but all the while they insist that a stream of recreational-sex relationships is somehow a path to lifelong married love. Can you turn a man who wants nothing more than recreational sex into the perfect husband, simply by invoking the magical power of vagina?
Liberal women think that you can:
On the one hand, liberal women believe wholeheartedly in the idiotic social construct they call, “sexual liberation.”They pride themselves on losing their virginity, as though that “accomplishment” had ever been above the challenge-scale of an alley cat in heat.
These liberal women I’ve known, having given away their female V-card over and over and over again, all the while scour their host of intimate “trial runs” searching for that mythical, Hollywood-construct, Mr. Right. This Mr. Right guy, for whom they are searching, is known to them up front as even more sexually-liberated than they, but this little factoid seems not to register in their liberated little heads as they frantically search for the equally mythical family home with the white picket fence, which somehow never gets hit by any of life’s roving tornadoes. One can almost hear them say in unison, “And they all lived happily ever after.”
I think it’s one of the deepest mysteries of the world why women think that a man who has lots and lots of recreational sex is somehow marriage material. When I think of men who are qualified for marriage, I think of men who have studied hard subjects, gotten marketable skills, worked and worked, saved and saved, and shown that they can be faithful in marriage by exhibiting self-control in the courtship. But liberal women think that all of this reasoning is junk, and you must just jump right into sex to see if the relationship will “work out” or to find out what you “like”. Recreational sex, they insist, is a superior way of finding a husband. Discussing who will do what in an actual marriage and what the actual marriage is for is apparently ineffective.
Evidently, the liberal woman is capable of the most severe form of psychological denial known to humankind. Certain that one of the men with whom she has copulated without strings will suddenly morph into a faithfully monogamous creature the minute she can convince one of them to say “I do” in front of a few witnesses, the liberal woman marches blindly down the aisle towards near-certain, adulterous doom. Yet, no amount of honest reason can dissuade liberal women from this self-destructive, moral myopia.
What other term but “morally schizoid” could possibly describe this blatantly contradictory tendency among liberal women?
Having spent their youth casually throwing their own sexual morality to the winds of fairytale “liberation,” these liberal women still steadfastly cling to the faithfully monogamous ideal for that sometime-later moment when they actually do desire all the traditional things — the husband, the kids, the white picket fence — those pesky female-nature embedded longings, which coincidentally ensure the continuation of the human race.
But these liberal women somehow — in perfect schizoid manner — convince themselves that once married, they will be the gratuitous beneficiaries of the monogamous respect they still desire, but have never once demanded or deserved. Intuitively, women know that strict monogamy provides the only real security for themselves and their own offspring. Yet, they continue themselves to spurn the demands of monogamy until the very last minute, believing that fidelity springs forth naturally in miraculous profusion among all “married” humans. Such pure poppycock can only be explained as a mental disorder.
I think women need to ask themselves questions honestly and rationally:
can recreational sex make an unemployed man get a job?
can recreational sex make a violent man be courteous and respectful?
can recreational sex make an atheist turn into a Christian?
can recreational sex make a male slut stay faithful?
can recreational sex make wastefulness turn into frugality?
can recreational sex make laziness turn into diligence?
can recreational sex make irresponsibility turn into commitment?
Marriages last because both partners have prepared themselves for self-sacrifice, rational discussions, problem solving and cooperation.
Stuart Schneiderman linked to a balanced article from the New York Times Magazine which offers scary insights into the hook-up culture at one of our elite universities.
First, feminism is definitely a driver of the hook-up culture, and women are voluntarily choosing it:
At 11 on a weeknight earlier this year, her work finished, a slim, pretty junior at the University of Pennsylvania did what she often does when she has a little free time. She texted her regular hookup — the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. What was he up to? He texted back: Come over. So she did. They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep.
Their relationship, she noted, is not about the meeting of two souls.
“We don’t really like each other in person, sober,” she said, adding that “we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”
Ask her why she hasn’t had a relationship at Penn, and she won’t complain about the death of courtship or men who won’t commit. Instead, she’ll talk about “cost-benefit” analyses and the “low risk and low investment costs” of hooking up.
“I positioned myself in college in such a way that I can’t have a meaningful romantic relationship, because I’m always busy and the people that I am interested in are always busy, too,” she said.
“And I know everyone says, ‘Make time, make time,’ ” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but agreed to be identified by her middle initial, which is A. “But there are so many other things going on in my life that I find so important that I just, like, can’t make time, and I don’t want to make time.”
It is by now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline, replaced by “hooking up” — an ambiguous term that can signify anything from making out to oral sex to intercourse — without the emotional entanglement of a relationship.
Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men, and that women were reluctant participants, more interested in romance than in casual sexual encounters. But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.
Hanna Rosin, in her recent book, “The End of Men,” argues that hooking up is a functional strategy for today’s hard-charging and ambitious young women, allowing them to have enjoyable sex lives while focusing most of their energy on academic and professional goals.
And a bit more about “A”:
For A., college is an endless series of competitions: to get into student clubs, some of which demand multiple rounds of interviews; to be selected for special research projects and the choicest internships; and, in the end, to land the most elite job offers.
As A. explained her schedule, “If I’m sober, I’m working.”
In such an overburdened college life, she said, it was rare for her and her friends to find a relationship worth investing time in, and many people avoided commitment because they assumed that someone better would always come along.
“We are very aware of cost-benefit issues and trading up and trading down, so no one wants to be too tied to someone that, you know, may not be the person they want to be with in a couple of months,” she said.
Instead, she enjoyed casual sex on her terms — often late at night, after a few drinks, and never at her place, she noted, because then she would have to wash the sheets.
[…]“‘I’ve always heard this phrase, ‘Oh, marriage is great, or relationships are great — you get to go on this journey of change together,’ ” she said. “That sounds terrible.
“I don’t want to go through those changes with you. I want you to have changed and become enough of your own person so that when you meet me, we can have a stable life and be very happy.”
In the meantime, from A.’s perspective, she was in charge of her own sexuality.
“I definitely wouldn’t say I’ve regretted any of my one-night stands,” she said.
“I’m a true feminist,” she added. “I’m a strong woman. I know what I want.”
At the same time, she didn’t want the number of people she had slept with printed, and she said it was important to her to keep her sexual life separate from her image as a leader at Penn.
“Ten years from now, no one will remember — I will not remember — who I have slept with,” A. said. “But I will remember, like, my transcript, because it’s still there. I will remember what I did. I will remember my accomplishments and places my name is hung on campus.”
These high-powered feminist students are having sex with strangers because they are “hot”, not because they have made the man prove his intention and ability to commit by waiting until marriage.
I think the key point about this is that these women think that they are actually on a path to marriage by focusing on themselves and their careers. Their alcohol abuse is a path to marriage. Their promiscuity with bad boy men who have no interest in marriage is a path to marriage. Their career and selfishness is a path to marriage. This despite the fact that research clearly shows that the number of sexual partners that a woman has before marrying directly impacts her ability to perform in a relationship. Premarital sex with bad boys raises her estimation of her own value in relationships. When she is older and has to settle for what she can get, she will be dissatisfied and ungrateful. This is where divorce comes from.
Nothing that these women are doing is preparation for actual commitment and support. They can’t even converse with men, much less do the duties of a wife. Their ability to choose a man who can perform actual husband/father duties is not being formed by study or courtship. There is no wisdom. There is no self-sacrifice. There is no chastity. There is no support. There is no communication. These women are pro-abortion – that’s their view of the rights and dignity of children. They are pro-gay marriage – that’s their view of providing for children’s relationship needs. These are literally the worst women in the world to marry. Their ignorance of what they must do to be good wives and mothers, and their messed up criteria for choosing men who can be husband and fathers makes them the worst women in the world to marry.
Read this carefully:
Some women went to college wanting a relationship, but when that seemed unlikely, they embraced hooking up as the best alternative. M., an athletic freshman with long legs and a button nose, arrived at college a virgin and planned to wait to have sex until she had her first boyfriend, something she expected to happen in college. But over the course of the fall, as she saw very few students forming relationships, she began to lose hope about finding a boyfriend and to see her virginity as a hindrance.
“I could be here for four years and not date anyone,” she said she realized. “Sometimes you are out, and there’s a guy you really are attracted to, and you kind of want to go back home with him, but you kind of have that underlying, ‘I can’t, because I can’t just lose my V-card to some random guy.’ ”
At a party in the spring semester, she was taking a break from dancing when she ran into a guy she had had a class with in the fall. They started talking, then danced until the party was over. M. went back to his room, where they talked some more and then started making out.
By this time, she said, “I wasn’t very drunk — I was close to sober,” which made her believe she could make a considered decision.
“I’m like, ‘O.K., I could do this now,’ ” she recalled thinking. “ ‘He’s superhot, I like him, he’s nice. But I’m not going to expect anything out of it, either.’ ”
The alternative, she said, was that “I could take the chance that one night I get really drunk and sleep with someone that I don’t want to sleep with, which probably is what would have ended up happening.”
So she had sex with him. In the morning, he walked her home.
“Honestly, all of my friends, they’re super envious, because I came back with the biggest smile on my face,” M. said. As she had expected, she and the guy remained friendly but nothing more. Yet she was still happy with her decision.
“All of my friends are jealous, because I had such a great first experience,” she added. Over spring break, she slept with someone else.
In general, she said, she thought that guys at Penn controlled the hookup culture. But women played a role as well.
“It’s kind of like a spiral,” she said. “The girls adapt a little bit, because they stop expecting that they’re going to get a boyfriend — because if that’s all you’re trying to do, you’re going to be miserable. But at the same time, they want to, like, have contact with guys.” So they hook up and “try not to get attached.”
Now, she said, she and her best friend had changed their romantic goals, from finding boyfriends to finding “hookup buddies,” which she described as “a guy that we don’t actually really like his personality, but we think is really attractive and hot and good in bed.”
I think I would really like everyone reading this to just read that last part over a few times, and let that sink in. You have a minority of good looking athletic men having sex with most of the women on campus, while the majority of men who opt-out of the hook-up culture and want to court and marry are left wondering where all the women went. And many of those will reinvent themselves as “bad boys” in order to at least get some contact with women, so that there are even fewer chaste, marriage-enabled men.
I really recommend reading some of Dr. Schneiderman’s comments on this article. He is really not happy about it, and he puts the blame squarely on feminists. As do I. Radical feminism is the ideology that gave us abortion, fatherlessness and divorce. We should call it what it is: selfish and destructive.
Guess where I’m linking today? To a radical feminist web site named Jezebel, to an article written by a radical feminist who writes for the radically leftist Slate.
No, I’m not crazy. Just read it:
Much of the conversation around alcohol and sex has focused on assault—the line at which intoxication becomes incapacitation, for instance—but what we fail to mention is how haunted people can be by the sex they actually, technically consented to.
[…]I wonder what my sex life would even look like if alcohol hadn’t been there. Alcohol gave me comfort in my own body, and it allowed me to turn my erotic curiosity and hunger for experience into an action plan. I was tired of being the stuttering girl sucking in her stomach after the lights went out. I wanted to be the woman who roamed wild and free.
Alcohol also helped me cut the girlish strings on my heart, an action my college years demanded. Three months into my freshman year, I split a six pack with a dashing sophomore, and we wound up partially clothed on his bed, my bare legs wrapped around his waist, my hands around his neck. I pulled back slightly and asked him the question, the naive question of a girl who does not yet understand her fate: “What does this mean?”
He looked past me, into his studio apartment, and then back into my eyes. “It means that I’m a 19-year-old boy, and we’re having fun.”
What is interesting is that she didn’t see this man’s using her for fun after getting her drunk as any disqualification for a serious relationship. On the contrary, she believes that a serious relationship built on self-sacrificial love and commitment that lasts through difficulties can be found in a man who uses her for fun sex:
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy that night with the dashing sophomore. I’m saying the fun part for me might have been turning our physical intimacy into a sustained attachment.
Amazing. She wasn’t looking for men with good educations, good jobs, lots of savings, who were sober and chaste – they would have made her unhappy with their bossy leading, and strict plans about courting and marriage. Nope, she wanted the drunken slut who didn’t ask her any questions or have any plan for her to develop into a wife and mother. That’s who she wanted. He was hawt! And he was free, easy and fun.
She is 35 now, and still single. I’m sure if you ask her, she would like to be married “some day”, but who could look at 20 years of drunken sex and say that this is good preparation for the challenges of marriage? Marriage is about self-sacrificial love, and endurance. To prepare for it, you learn self-denial and self-control. You learn how to accept expectations, obligations and responsibilities.
Anyway, back to the article by the drunken, promiscuous feminist. The point that I wanted to make is that she chose the alcohol herself, and that she did it for a very specific reason:
I wanted to have fun, too. And alcohol evened the score. I cared less about everything when I was drinking: What you thought of me, what I looked like in this dress, whether that taco was warm or cold when I stuffed it in my mouth. I don’t want to make it sound like I drank in order to have sex. I drank for a million reasons.
[…]Booze downshifted my intense body consciousness, and it revved up my bravado. Sex was scary—but alcohol made me feel safe.
She drank in order to have sex. Got it? She chose to get drunk in order to have sex. This is the part that permissive parents and pious pastors need to understand about their darling daughters. Many young women think that recreational sex with hot guys is a pathway to marriage. They drink in order to make progress towards the marriage they want – the marriage to the man who is fun. Not the man who is serious. They don’t want the serious man who makes plans and expects them to behave responsibly and honor obligations. They want the fun, hot man – the bad boy – and they expect to change him into a faithful, sober, responsible provider through the magical power of vagina. And if that doesn’t work, by threatening him with divorce.
A number of students noted that being drunk could later serve as your excuse for the hook up.
A Yale University student said, “Some people like hook up because they’re drunk or use being drunk as an excuse to hook up.”
A New York University student observed, “[Alcohol is] just part of an excuse, so that you can say, oh, well, I was drinking.”
A Rutgers University student commented, “If you’re drinking a lot it’s easier to hook up with someone… [and] drugs, it’s kind of like a bonding thing… and then if you hook up with them and you don’t want to speak to them again, you can always blame it on the drinking or the drugs.”
[…]A University of Chicago junior observed, “One of my best friends… sometimes that’s her goal when we go out. Like she wants to get drunk so I guess she doesn’t have to feel guilty about [hooking up].”
I think at this point you should assume that if your daughter is not passionate about chastity, natural marriage and pro-life, then she is probably somewhere on this drinking – recreational sex – cohabitation – abortion – no-fault divorce path. The more fun-loving and emotional a woman is, the more likely she is to fall into it, and some of them just work it together with Christianity. Once woman I know was living with a non-Christian man and praying fervently for God to make her career take off. God is there for hope and comfort, not to impose any sort of moral boundaries. And parents and pastors are oblivious – they just want to let women do whatever they want, and then blame men for not making it “work out”. Parents and pastors are not doing the job of explaining to women what their lives will really be like from age 40 to 90, and urging women to make a plan that provides lasting love and and security even as they experience declining youth, declining beauty, and declining fertility.
I hope that many of the men out there who refuse to hold women accountable for their own desires start to understand that not everything a woman wants is good, and not every plan a woman makes will work. Sometimes, you need to calmly and constructively challenge them about their priorities, plans and actions. It’s for their own good.