Do you have a healthy re­la­tion­ship with sex?

Care­less about your sex­ual part­ners? Use sex to ma­nip­u­late them? It’s time to nip un­healthy pat­terns in the bud, sug­gests Salome Mit­ter.

Savvy - - Contents -

“Cause I’m

all that you want, boy. All that you can have, boy. Got me spread like a buf­fet. Bon ap­pétit, baby,” sings Katy Perry as a band of male chefs pro­ceed to rub her body in flour, and toss her in veg­gies, be­fore boil­ing and plat­ing her up for the con­sump­tion of can­ni­bal­is­tic guests. Switch to ‘How Many Times’ by DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Big Sean, which re­counts their at­tempts at en­tic­ing women into their beds. Sub­tle woo­ing is some­thing they can­not be ac­cused of; the re­cur­ring line goes, “How many times I gotta tell that ass to come over?” If Brown is por­trayed brag­ging about not lov­ing a woman he has sex with, Lil Wayne makes his point with, “If we ain’t f****** then b****, bon voy­age.” It can’t be real. There can’t be women who ac­tu­ally ac­cept - leave alone en­joy - this, you won­der. Sad truth, there are. Re­cent re­search from WSU’s Mur­row Cen­tre for Me­dia & Health Pro­mo­tion sug­gests that fe­male col­lege stu­dents who en­dorse the mu­sic me­dia in­dus­try’s degra­da­tion of women and who be­lieve women should be sub­servient to men, are more likely to be in­volved in an un­healthy sex­ual re­la­tion­ship. The find­ings showed that col­lege girls who be­lieve in tra­di­tional gen­der stereo­types are also less likely to refuse un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances, sig­nalling un­healthy sex­ual con­sent ne­go­ti­a­tion. Ex­perts be­lieve that hold­ing stereo­typ­i­cal be­liefs about sex­u­al­ity and en­dors­ing mu­sic that de­grades women could be a re­flec­tion of a broader at­ti­tude that men hold power over women. It is time women – the young, col­lege-go­ing sec­tion in par­tic­u­lar – were em­pow­ered to re­ject tra­di­tional sex­ual think­ing, as we cre­ate aware­ness and in­spire con­ver­sa­tion about con­sent, sex­ual as­sault vic­tim­iza­tion, sex­ual ex­pec­ta­tions and stereo­types.

It’s im­por­tant to treat your body with re­spect. There should be a level of com­fort and re­spect with your part­ner, even if it is ca­sual sex.

It’s im­por­tant to treat your body with re­spect. There should be a level of com­fort and re­spect with part­ners, even if it is ca­sual sex.

SEX­UAL HEALTH SELF-CHECK

One could have an un­healthy re­la­tion­ship with sex, with­out even be­ing aware of it. If you tick most of these boxes, you will re­alise that it is time to make a change for the bet­ter. It would also make sense to con­sult a ther­a­pist if you feel un­able to break these pat­terns…

Do you just set­tle? It’s im­por­tant to treat your body with re­spect. There should be a level of com­fort and re­spect with part­ners, even if it is ca­sual sex. Be­ing care­less and ir­re­spon­si­ble about whom you choose to share your body with is not a de­sir­able ten­dency at all. Re­alise that you never have to have sex with some­one be­cause you want to be liked or be­cause you feel you owe it to them.

Do you get into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions? If you prac­tise un­safe sex, you clearly lack a healthy re­la­tion­ship with sex. Safe sex in­cludes ed­u­cat­ing your­self about the risks of sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties, us­ing pro­tec­tion and in­sist­ing on your part­ner doing so as well to pre­vent sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases and un­wanted preg­nancy.

Do you use sex to ma­nip­u­late? Sex is beau­ti­ful and feels won­der­ful for its own sake. To use it as a tool to ma­nip­u­late some­one into en­ter­ing into a re­la­tion­ship with you or as a favour is not an ideal sce­nario. Like­wise, deny­ing sex to your part­ner as a pun­ish­ment or us­ing it as a bar­gain­ing point to get your own way, is def­i­nitely un­de­sir­able and dam­ag­ing in the long run.

It is im­por­tant to make an ef­fort to de­velop com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills when it comes to mat­ters sex­ual.

Do you reach for sex to beat anx­i­ety? If you have a ten­dency to turn to sex to avoid deal­ing with un­pleas­ant­ness in your life, it is best avoided. Re­sort­ing to porn, mas­tur­ba­tion or sex to im­prove your mood is not a healthy cop­ing mech­a­nism.

Do you put your part­ner’s needs above your own? Be­ing car­ing is one thing, but con­stantly striv­ing to please your part­ner even at the risk of deny­ing your own needs, is tricky ter­ri­tory. Hav­ing sex when you don’t want to, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties against your real wish sim­ply be­cause your part­ner de­sires it, is an un­de­sir­able sit­u­a­tion. While com­pro­mise is good, it is im­por­tant to set bound­aries that are non-ne­go­tiable, such as hav­ing pro­tected sex or re­fus­ing a three­some.

Do you feel ad­dicted to sex? The feel­ing that you can never be sat­is­fied and are al­ways crav­ing more is a sign of some­thing be­ing wrong in your re­la­tion­ship with sex. Don’t con­fuse this with hav­ing a high sex drive – it be­comes un­healthy if you find your­self be­com­ing so de­pen­dent on phys­i­cal pleasure that you lose con­trol over your sex life al­to­gether, and are un­able to lead a nor­mal life.

Do you feel un­able to com­mu­ni­cate about sex? It is im­por­tant to make an ef­fort to de­velop com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills when it comes to mat­ters sex­ual. It en­ables you to ex­press your bound­aries, to give or deny con­sent, to share your de­sires, and speak out about is­sues and prob­lems. All of this con­trib­utes to­wards de­vel­op­ing a healthy sex life.

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