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.
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.