Q & A: Two Perspectives on OkCupid’s Sex Attitudes Study

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Several weeks ago, The Atlantic reported on a study conducted by OkCupid detailing how attitudes towards sex (at least of the 12 million people who use the app) have changed over the last ten years.

I (Julia) and Jason decided to come up with five questions based on this article to see how our perspectives of the past decade line up, especially because I was transitioning from a teenager to an adult and Jason had just reached his 30s.

Take a look below to see our different takes on the changing attitudes about sex over the past decade:

What do you think is the biggest factor in the decline of people who reported they would sleep with someone on the first date (69% in 2005 vs. 50% in 2015)?

Jason, 40: “As the world of dating has changed people have become more aware of the danger of sleeping with someone on the first date. Most of this is due to online dating and apps like Tinder or OkCupid. Yes, some people use these apps to hook up, but many others use them to meet others in the hopes of finding a mate. Because of this, people are learning to be more cautious in the short term; individuals using such services to find committed relationships are typically more careful in the early stages.”

Julia, 25: “In general people have way more access to information about sex via the Internet. Not that sleeping with someone on the first date was ever a ‘novelty’ per se, but it seems like the idea/risk of a one-night stand became less ‘glamorous’ as people had more information about not only STDs, but now unlimited access to accounts of sex and/or pregnancy horror stories. Because this study was done by OkCupid, I believe there’s a possibility people became more aware that because of the now limitless options of partners online, it’s more established that you may not be ‘as special’ right away; your date can easily move on from you with a plethora of other partners at the touch of a button.”

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From OKCupid’s research: “Would you need to sleep with someone before you considered marrying them?”

In 2005, what was the general attitude among your peers towards online dating?

Jason: “Online dating was still in its infancy. In fact, the most common places to meet someone were through friends, family, and church. Yes, church still played a role in helping people meet in 2005! Today that stat has all but disappeared. Most people I knew, including myself, didn’t really see online dating as a viable option. And those that did kept it a secret. I knew people who met, fell in love, and even got married, yet never told anyone the truth of how they had met (online). Online dating only recently became normalized, and these couples finally admitted how they met because they didn’t feel as judged as they might have back in 2005.”

Julia: “I was 15, so online dating had a huge stigma; only older people desperate for a relationship used online dating! So online dating was not really a thing among my peers. Our biggest online space at the time was MySpace. MySpace was not explicitly conducive for dating, but it was one of the first spaces online where you could declare your relationship status. You could also flirt back and forth with someone or your significant other in the public comments section of their profile or your profile. So in a way, 2005 marked the first time, for me, that dating became more of a public thing to be ‘judged’ in an online setting, outside of face-to-face relationships at school.”

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“Is it okay for a woman to talk openly about her sexual exploits?”

In 2005, what was the cultural attitude (among your peers) towards women talking openly about their sexual exploits?

Jason: “There has been a gigantic shift when it comes to women and sex. I was always aware of some women sharing exploits with other women but never openly so all could hear. Something I find striking about this data is it is in line with the impact pornography is having on our culture. Women (and men) are being sexualized at a rate never before seen. Our thoughts on sex, the conversations we have surrounding sex, and ultimately the way we practice sex are all being shaped by a culture largely impacted by the use of pornography. In 2005 this would have only been a much smaller segment of the population; now it is the majority.”

Julia: “I was a freshman in high school, so women talking about their sexual exploits would have been, in my limited opinion, promiscuous. Especially if those women had been my own peers. Girls who talked openly about their sexual exploits at school (and I don’t recall this being frequent) were considered to be ‘easy’; not necessarily easy sexually, but easy to date because they were always willing and not usually in long-lasting relationships.”

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“Is there such thing as having too many sexual partners?”

In 2005, what would you have qualified as the biggest cultural influence on dating? In 2015? 

Jason: “In 2005 I would have argued the media (movies, tv, and music) would be the largest cultural influence. The hook-up culture was in full swing and ‘friends with benefits’ were all the rage. Along the same line I was one of the few people speaking about how pornography was shaping a generation to think and act differently when it came to sex. Today, In 2016, we’ve visibly been able to see the impact pornography has had on our society. Yes, media still drives and influences our thoughts on sex and sexuality, but even the media’s influence has grown exponentially since 2005. This is mostly due to the birth and growth of social media where an idea or thought can become a reality within in minutes, from any source.”

Julia: “I might have to say the cellphone, because this was the year when most people my age got their first cell phone. So the fact that you could text someone outside of school, in private, was a big deal. It opened up the world to not just face-to-face, in-school conversations anymore. Dating or liking someone could now be a private thing, rather than in front of all your peers. For 2015, I would say the biggest cultural influence was still very much your cell phone, in the form of apps. Social media and dating apps suddenly put a lot of pressure on dating; no one had an excuse anymore not to be dating, or at least trying to date, because you now had so many ways to meet people. Social media also upped the pressure, in my opinion, to have the most ideal life possible, relationships included.”

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“Would you consider sleeping with someone on the first date?”

How has the cultural opinion of sex and dating shifted in the last 10 years, from your personal experience and viewpoint? 

Jason: “There is something about this question that saddens me. I’ve been speaking on the issues of sex/sexuality/relationship for a little more than 10 years. Everything I thought we would see (and this data now shows) has become a reality. I think the only thing that is surprising to me is the data showing fewer people sleeping with each other on the first date. But even that data is in line with what I see happening around me today. Specifically, I see a lot of data that shows we are becoming both more liberal AND conservative in our views surrounding sex. Our ideas surrounding sex are all over the place!

Julia: “I grew from teenager to adult during this time, so my experience is based on a very specific life stage. I would say that sex seemed like something that was still very taboo to most people my age in 2005. Dating was frequent, but not necessarily because people wanted to be frequently dating. We were just high school students who didn’t know how to maintain a long-lasting relationship. Dating and sex still very much seemed to hold an element of love; those things should be experienced for the sake of experiencing love. I would say that now dating and sex are treated among the culture at large as a personal life goal, one that adds to our own unique personas and can be recounted as stories that make us seem interesting. Sex in particular has become very individualistic, especially with the drastic rise of gender fluidity, etc. Sex is about finding ourselves and determining how we form our identity.”


What do you think? How do you think the attitudes surrounding sex have changed since 2005?

Sexual Integrity Messages Must Improve as Marriage Age Increases

By Jason Soucinek 

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I didn’t marry until I was 34.

To some this seems old. Others think this is the perfect age to marry. Either way, I am not alone in the trend of marrying later in life.

For the last several years the age at which people get married is getting older, and fewer individuals are getting married altogether. 

This is not because this generation doesn’t want to get married; data continues to reveal high numbers of individuals who still want to marry later in life as a capstone to other achievements like education or career. However, when you couple this information with the fact that the marriage rate is at an all time low, hovering around 50% (compared to 72% in 1960), you can begin to understand the difficulty of speaking on sexual integrity.

Delayed adulthood, cohabitation, changing attitudes about sex, and a Christian culture mostly unwilling to talk about sex and sexuality are some of the many reasons sexual integrity has become a virtually defunct practice. Even among self-identifying Christians, our views of God’s intent for sex have shifted, leaving us in a place of little clear understanding about what to do with our bodies and how to speak honestly about sex.

Sexual integrity needs to be more than just a message about keeping your pants on.

For years the church has simply responded to the culture’s definition of sex. American culture says, “Do whatever you want, with whomever you want, whenever you want.” So what has the church done? It’s responded by saying, “Just wait.” But this is only responding to the definition set forth by the culture and not giving the definition from Scripture.

The definition of sex found in Scripture is based on “oneness” with our spouse. This is seen in verses all the way from Genesis through Revelation. Sex is meant to unify. In fact, when it says in Genesis 2:24 the “two will become one flesh” it is literally saying the two will be fused together, creating this “oneness.”

Procreation, pleasure, and protection all need to be part of the conversations surrounding sex in the church.

Often we are willing to talk about the power of sex as it relates to new life. But why are we afraid to talk about the pleasure associated with it?

Pleasure is not something Scripture hides from and neither should we. Our God is a God of pleasure. We see this in the first verses in the first chapter of the first book in Scripture, Genesis 1, when God declares creation (and thus sex) was “very good.”

Scripture also reveals sex has boundaries but these boundaries exist for our own protection. Because sex has the power to create life and fuse two people together, it requires protection. That is one reason we have marriage. It acts as a crucible.

Clear and consistent dialogue, not a list of restrictions, are needed for sexual integrity to be practiced more often.

Maybe you’ve seen some of the data suggesting young adults are leaving the church in droves. Although I don’t see it quite this way I do recognize a frustration with established religion, particularly when it comes to the attitudes the church communicates regarding sex.

Recently I was listening to a podcast from the show This American Life. The episode was a discussion about collected date showing people’s mindsets changing over the course of a 20-minute conversation. The reason for the change was simple: the parties involved had vulnerable and honest dialogue.

Most of the young adults I speak with are filled with frustration because few people are willing to have difficult conversations about our culture’s view of sex and sexuality. However, I’ve found taking time to listen leads to better and more in-depth conversations, which give opportunity to reveal God’s grand design as the sex-maker.

Let’s have more vulnerable and honest dialogue and make sexual integrity a part of the culture in our churches once again.

Women Are Choosing Virtual Boyfriends Over Real Ones – And That’s a Huge Problem

By Julia Feeser

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Virtual characters from the Japanese game “Star Crossed Myth”.

Recently Vogue published a story about several women around the world who are engaged in virtual romantic relationships – meaning their boyfriends don’t actually exist.

Virtual relationship apps or games allow users to engage in pre-made storyline with a virtual character. Players develop the romantic story by interacting with their virtual character. In essence, the game offers a simulation of a romantic relationship – without real life consequences or complications.

The popularity of virtual relationships initially began in Asian countries such as Japan, but are now spreading to the states as well, through apps such as “My Virtual Boyfriend.”

“Virtual companionship, once a niche Japanese subculture, has mushroomed into a lucrative global industry. The first wildly popular virtual romance game created specifically with women in mind, called Angelique, was released in 1994 by a team of female developers at the Japanese gaming company Koei. Since then, others have been quick to capitalize. Voltage, the leading company in the Japanese market, currently offers 84 different romance apps.” – Pip Usher, Vogue

One of these women, Mook, is a 24-year-old living in Japan. She describes her experience with virtual relationships as one of escape:

“When she is not engaging with [her virtual boyfriend], she is often flirting with another of her virtual boyfriends, all of whom are available, at all times, in the palm of her hand. ‘[These apps] give me a chance to hide away from my real life, in which I don’t have a boyfriend,’ Mook says. ‘And by playing these games, it hurts nobody.’” – Pip Usher, Vogue

Depending on the app, players have the opportunity to choose a pre-made character (one that is programmed with qualities such as intimacy issues, mysterious, seducer, shy, and of course, exceptionally handsome), or create their own ideal character – one that reflects who they would like to meet in real life.

“‘[Women] dream of a guy who is handsome, controlling, and unreasonably in love with [them],’” says Marcos Daniel Arroyo, a software engineer at Cheritz who has built a career on understanding what women want from virtual relationships. The games allow women to date the kind of men they are attracted to, but without any of the hassle or heartbreak. They fulfill, says Arroyo, ‘the fantasy of a relationship that cannot occur so easily in real life.’” – Pip Usher, Vogue

From the outset, these games would appear to be a good solution to a desire for love and romance without the emotional repercussions real-life relationships can have. Women who desire the drama of romance can play this out in a way that impacts only them, thereby saving not only themselves but others from heartbreak.

Virtual relationships protect the players from experiencing very real hurt, angst, disappointment, or confusion. But they also make a real-life relationship increasingly impossible or unsatisfying because a real relationship can then never measure up to one that can be manipulated at will to fulfill the highest standards of romance and perfection.

Women who find themselves online, hoping to achieve the romance, relationship, and intrigue they desire in a real-life relationship will thus only ever be disappointed by a real person.

In our day and age, we have set impossible standards for ourselves when it comes to characteristics of a potential partner and the kind of romantic relationship we feel is both achievable and deserved.

In his book The Meaning of Marriage, author Tim Keller explains the common perspective and demand of relationships, particularly marriage, by those of marrying age today:

“Marriage used to be a public institution for the common good, and now it is a private arrangement for the satisfaction of the individuals. Marriage used to be about us, but now it is about me. But ironically, this newer version of marriage actually puts a crushing burden of expectation on marriage and spouses in a way that more traditional understandings never did. And it leaves us desperately trapped between both unrealistic longings for and terrible fears about marriage.” 

While an initial use of such simulated relationships apps may seem harmless or like a game, a steady stream of influence will eventually leave those involved longing for the same type of relationship in real life.

But real relationships don’t work this way. They cannot be put in a box, controlled, or manipulated to perfection. And if people seeking love continue to train their minds through apps such as these – or movies, or dating apps with endless choices of potential partners – they will find themselves lonely, isolated, and disappointed, unable to find contentment in a real but ultimately imperfect relationship.

Why I Can’t Give Dating Advice

By Holly Clark

Why I cant give dating advice

When I was younger, there was a lot of talk in my Christian circles on dating and relationships.

My mentors (with great intentions) would emphasize the importance of saving yourself for your husband. I would read books where the author would encourage young women to be faithful to their relationship with God and he would bless them with faithful men in return.

While I know these authors and mentors intention’s were to encourage women to not put all of their focus on a relationship, I have seen many women frustrated and discouraged with faith because they “did do everything right” (focused on their relationships with God) and still got hurt.

In my experience, God has never been transactional. I didn’t do “anything right” and by the grace of God, I ended up with an incredible man.

Here are a couple specific reasons why I can’t give dating advice and why we can’t depend on our “good deeds and intentions” to get what we want:

Relationships are not an A + B = C equation.

We are meant for relationship and relationships are not an A + B = C equation.

While I understand why so many Christians talk about how God will bless you when you have pursued Him with your whole heart, it’s also a cop-out answer. It’s like saying, “Things will be okay,” or “They are in a better place.”

I know this is true because I didn’t deserve my relationship with my husband. For years he pursued me respectfully and with love, all while I was focusing on the wrong things. I pursued other men to fulfill me and I didn’t even know what it meant to love God with my whole heart. I did everything wrong in the eyes of my mentors and Christian leaders. And yet now I am married to my best friend.

I’m not saying we can act and treat people however we want and it won’t matter, because we are all called to take responsibility for our actions and to live with integrity and obedience. But when Paul says in Romans 4:24 that “We are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came through Jesus Christ,” he truly means we are free in Christ! We are completely free and we are completely loved. But that doesn’t mean that because we are free or loved (or did everything right) we will get whatever we want.

Grace is the main factor in our relationship with God (tweet this!). We don’t deserve it and we can’t do anything to “get” it, and because of this all the good things in our life, relationships included, come down to a matter of grace.

Relationships cannot be compared.

Social media makes this almost impossible.

We have become a culture obsessed with proving ourselves, checking our social media sites for how many “likes” we have, all the while comparing ourselves to other people, what they have and their relationships. And while I can look at these things and wish and wonder why my relationship doesn’t look exactly like someone else’s, I have to remember that my journey and marriage with Jeremy is going to be completely different than someone else’s.

My friends sometimes ask me what to do in their relationships and I’ve tried to give them advice based on my situation. Jeremy and I have known each other since sixth grade, we dated for four years and then got married after college. I’ve known some couples who met, dated and got married all in the same year and they have a great marriage. So even though I may have experience with dating and being married, my advice may not always be relevant to someone’s else’s specific situation if it looks different from mine.

Whether you are single, dating, or married, live into your present moment and present relationship. There is no strict, set way your relationship should look or play out. And for goodness sake, stop letting what other people post on social media dictate how you feel about your relationships or situations in life.

 Free will makes relationships unpredictable.

 My sophomore year of college I took a class called Intro to the Christian Faith. I remember one specific lecture almost word for word: The professor was speaking about love and free will. He asked us if we would rather be with someone who could choose at any moment to leave us, or someone who was programmed and forced to love us.

He compared this situation to God’s love and why God gives us free will. We can choose to love God or not. And we know God loves us because he doesn’t force us to do anything. We are free to love and we are free to hurt others. We are free to make our own decisions.

So though you may pick the an amazing person to date or marry, and you do and say all the right things in that relationship (you won’t), free will guarantees that your relationship, and your life, will be unpredictable.

All relationships, no matter how similar they may be, will ultimately be different from anyone else’s. And while I can do my best to give advice based on my own experiences, know that at the end of the day only you fully know both the joys and complications of your relationship.

Culture’s Newest Curse Word

There was a time not to long ago that I remember going somewhere like a doctor’s office with my parents and being asked to wait patiently. Waiting seemed to be something I did a lot of as a child. It seemed everywhere we went we would spend a certain amount of time waiting. Today, however, waiting seems to be a lost concept.

When I go to the doctor’s office today everyone is on a cell phone playing games, answering email, or watching a video. No one is just ‘waiting’ like I did when I was a kid. I see this at restaurants, hospitals, parks (as children play), and just about every other place I go.

Waiting has become a curse word. People cringe when they hear it.

Learning to wait is an exercise. It takes practice. Unfortunately the world around us very rarely allows for this discipline to take place. In fact, one teenager I was speaking to summed it up perfectly when he said ‘I never wait.’

Our lack of waiting is having an impact.

Most of this is due too the fact that a growing number of teens own smart phones. In fact, owning a smart phone has become a rite of passage (even more important than getting a drivers license, as is evident from a recent NPR article). A smart phone provides 24/7 access to a number of activities meaning a teen never has to wait to be entertained.

We also see this in how we watch TV. An entire season of some of the more popular shows like Empire, Better Call Saul, and The Walking Dead are all between 10-12 episodes that show over a 3-month period. Just a few years ago an entire season would span over 6-8 months and include close to 25 episodes. Today’s audiences are unable to sit and wait for the plot to develop, which is why seasons are shortened so we can get to the end quicker. We can’t wait for it! In fact, a whole new term for watching shows has been developed…it’s called binge watching.

Last year Hollywood released a movie called Boyhood that took over 12 years to film. Every actor was seen through three distinct time periods in a young boys life. The patience and the commitment it took from the actors, the producers, and the director to make this movie is incredible. It gives me hope.

 

Waiting needs to be…..

 

Wait for it…

 

Wait….

 

…..taught and modeled. It needs to be a part of our every day vernacular. It needs to be something seen on TV and in the movies. Not in the plot but in how that plot develops over an entire season. It needs to be seen in how we spend our downtime.

There are physical reasons for waiting. It teaches our bodies to sit and be still. To learn how to engage the world around us without always having to be entertained

There are emotional reasons for waiting. When we don’t display every life detail on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine we leave opportunity for self-discovery.

There are relational reasons for waiting. We hurt in isolation but heal in community. This doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.

We need to relearn this idea of “waiting” and begin the process of removing the stigma that has made it so akin to a curse word in our vernacular.

These Facts About Sexting Might Make You Rethink Pressing “Send”

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Sexting. It’s a buzzword that has become synonymous with irresponsibility or promiscuity, something we know exists and yet we don’t quite want to openly acknowledge, kind of like not really wanting to admit that frozen yogurt doesn’t actually contain less sugar than plain old ice cream.

But here’s the exposed truth about sexting: It DOES exist, and it’s something most teens will participate in or face sometime in their young years.

11 facts you need to know about sexting:

  1. Teenage girls have a few reasons for why they participate in sexting: 40% do it as a joke, 34% do it to feel sexy, and 12% feel pressured to do it.
  2. 17% of sexters share the messages they receive with others, and 55% of those share them with more than one person.
  3. While nearly 70% of teen boys and girls who sext do so with their girlfriend or boyfriend, 61% of all sexters who have sent nude images admit that they were pressured to do it at least once.
  4. Nearly 40% of all teenagers have posted or sent sexually suggestive messages, but this practice is more common among boys than girls.
  5. Sending semi-nude or nude photos is more common among teens girls. 22% of teen girls report sending images of this nature, while only 18% of same-age boys have.
  6. 15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves send these messages to people they have never met, but know from the Internet.
  7. Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.
  8. 24% of high-school age teens (ages 14 to 17) and 33% of college-age students (ages 18 to 24) have been involved in a form of nude sexting.
  9. Sexting is defined by the U.S. court system as “an act of sending sexually explicit materials through mobile phones.” The messages may be text, photo, or video.
  10. In the U.S., 8 states have enacted bills to protect minors from sexting, and an additional 13 states have proposed bills to legislation.
  11. 11% of teen girls ages 13 to 16 have been involved with sending or receiving sexually explicit messages.

Folks, underage sexting is NOT COOL! While sexting might seem like a better alternative than real, in-person physicality, sexting does nothing to lessen the temptation of going too far when you’re actually in the same room with that person. And sending a picture to someone you may or may not know, who may or may not show that picture to other people, and who may or may not still have that photo for months or maybe even years after you regretted sending it? Just plain risky (and in some cases, illegal – see #7). And, let’s face it, stupid.

Get the citations here.

5 Ways to Still be Intentional in a Social Media World

By Holly Clark – Administrative and Development Assistant

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Have you thought about how distracting social media can be in our lives and in relationships?

Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed as though I just can’t get away from the noise around me. Unfortunately our relationships and experiences are inspired and often dominated by the media. We’ve come up with 5 ways to be more intentional in our relationships and how to be discerning in a media dominated world. Check it out:

  1.  Let some experiences just be: You and a friend are on one of the most beautiful autumn walks of your life. Your significant other just planned the cutest picnic for you in the backyard. You are enjoying the most delicious donut you’ve ever had. What if you enjoyed these activities instead of posting them to Instagram for everyone to view? We need to re-learn the craft of being present. Enjoy the hike and remember the smells of the autumn leaves or the color of the sky. Ask your significant other intentional questions about their day and show true appreciation for their act of kindness. Eat your donut and then go buy another one! Sometimes, we forget to live a true life because we are too focused on posting our experiences instead of completely experiencing them. Don’t miss out on these sweet gifts!

 

  1. Allow yourself to be truly quiet: You know when you get to the coffee shop you were supposed to meet your friend and she/he isn’t there yet? And so you take out your phone and start looking through Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? What if you decided to read a book instead, or people watch? You might meet someone new or learn to enjoy time spent alone. We become so easily uncomfortable with the in-between-times of the day and our iPhones can be a quick fix. But this also leaves us constantly distracted and immersed in the media. Practice the art of being quiet.

 

  1. Some conversations aren’t meant to be shared: In some ways (and I’m completely guilty of this) we have lost the art of spending intentional, quality time with other people. I know my husband and I have missed precious moments to distractions on our phones. But life is too short to miss out on good conversations with friends and family. When you are with someone you love and have the time to be completely present, put your phone away. Let the presence of the other person wash over you. Listen to them. I believe having set times where you turn off your phone can bring new life to your relationship.

 

  1. If you are posting to prove something, don’t: We need to be discerning of when to post and when not to. I think there can be real damage done if don’t step back and understand our intentions behind what we are posting. For example, we cannot let the amount of ‘likes’ we get on a post determine our worth or be consumed with what other people think. Social media can be a great way to express ourselves and share our experiences with others; we just can’t let it define who we are.

 

  1. Don’t let Instagram fool you: Our Social Media and Program Coordinator, Julia, wrote a wonderful article about this very thing. It’s a reminder that no relationship is always as happy, beautiful or funny as it seems on Instagram. We can’t let what we see on social media cloud us with unrealistic expectations because it will always leave us comparing and unhappy. You are an individual and your specific relationship won’t look like anyone else’s. Celebrating your relationship means accepting the beautiful and the messy alike.