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

dude with phone

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.”

888bc779f

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.”

f6cc762b4

“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.”

9940490fc

“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.”

4215e271b

“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?

Five New Year’s Resolutions That Benefit Our Relationships

By Holly Clark

looking at stars

New Year’s Resolutions are mostly frustrating (1) because they make you focus on yourself and (2) because a lot of them are unattainable.

We would like to challenge you to think about aspirations that will affect you AND others in a positive way. We know that our actions and beliefs about ourselves do affect those around us. Here are five things to think about as we continue in 2016 that can help us throughout the entire year.

Being present.

We always want to get to the next thing – the weekend, a new job, spring, lunchtime (my favorite time of the workday). And while there is nothing wrong with being excited about the future, we too often miss out on what is happening right in front of us!

As we continue into the new year, remember to stop – remind yourself of what you have right now that you are thankful for and take advantage of the people and situations that are right in front of you. All we has is this present moment. So don’t miss out!

 Saying no.

If you are anything like me, you take on too much and often find yourself exhausted. I am in a season of life where I am physically, mentally and emotionally unable to do as much as I have in the past.

I’ve said no to some very good things in order to take care of myself. I have felt guilty or selfish because I don’t wan to hurt people’s feelings. But the truth is, I was hurting them even more by taking on too much and not following through. When we are able to say no, we free ourselves up for deeper relationships and more meaningful experiences.

Saying yes.

And while it is important to say no, it is just as important to be discerning of what we need to say yes to this year!

In the past, I’ve been nervous to jump into something because how do I know it’s “the right thing to do.” As I get older, I’m learning it is better to take risks and make mistakes, then do nothing at all. Listen to yourself – be discerning of why you want to say “yes” or “no” to something. If your reason has to do with pleasing other people (for example) then don’t do it! If you aren’t doing something out of fear, maybe think about taking a risk.

There will always be difficult choices in life and learning to be discerning of what to say yes to will lead to some pretty unbelievable experiences.

Listening more, talking less.

Some smart person once said, “When you talk, you are repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”

We are a part of a culture that is extremely verbal–arguing on Facebook, tweeting, and texting – we forget the importance of listening to others. When we listen, we learn and our relationships grow. And trust me, learning to be a good listener takes discipline and time.

Train yourself to really listen; don’t think of what you are going to say next – be present and listen. You might learn something new about a loved one.

Not letting social media take over.

I’ve had lots of conversations with friends lately who are overwhelmed by all of the engagement, pregnancy and marriage announcements on Facebook (I’ve been there!).

Social media sites make it difficult to feel confident about our own life situations. But we cannot let this information keep us from living our own life. We are all on a different journey. No two people are the same and there aren’t requirements of if or when you should get married, have babies or be in a relationship.

My encouragement to you is to spend some time away from social media if you find yourself overcome by it. Remind yourself that where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be. My new rule of thumb is if social media becomes an avenue for me to separate myself from other people (compare, judge, etc) then I need time away from it. We are meant to be in relationship with people, to be genuinely excited for people. Let’s not let the internet get in the way of that!

5 Ways to Still be Intentional in a Social Media World

By Holly Clark – Administrative and Development Assistant

iphone-4-closeup

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.

How social media impacted my relationship (and not in a good way)

Our social media coordinator, Julia, shares how social media impacted the way she viewed her relationship and her struggle to share that part of her life:

laptop stock photo

Kids, let me begin by saying that when I started dating my first boyfriend, MySpace was still a thing.

If you aren’t entirely sure what MySpace even is, it’s the Internet’s forgotten playground where many a personalized background and painstakingly selected popular music track have now gone to die along with Tom and his millions of friends.

You know what wasn’t a thing? Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (okay, Facebook was a thing, but as a loyal MySpace user I refused to acknowledge that until circa summer 2009).

In order to let the world know you were in fact dating someone, you could do a couple things:

  1. Update your MySpace profile picture to a picture of you and your honey (“bae” also wasn’t a thing, and in my opinion still shouldn’t be because, really, people?).
  2. Move your honey to the number one or number two spot of your MySpace top eight friends so everyone could know exactly how deeply important that person was in your life (if you were smart, you kept your honey at a solid number two spot behind your best friend).
  3. Walk down the hallways of school holding hands with said honey.

And that was mostly it.

Nowadays there are 402 ways to declare your relationship status to the world:

  1. Update your Facebook relationship status.
  2. Post pictures of you and bae at the baseball game or at your lake cabin or wearing matching pajamas on Facebook.
  3. Post pictures of you and bae at the baseball game or at your lake cabin or wearing matching pajamas on Instagram.
  4. Tweet about the quality time you spent together last weekend. #blessed, #love, #mcm, #wcw, #howdidigetsolucky.
  5. Identify yourself as so-and-so’s boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband in your Twitter bio.
  6. Identify yourself as so-and-so’s boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband in your Instagram bio.
  7. Upload a quick-but-not-so-quick-viewers-won’t-catch-onto-how-cute-you-are video on YouTube of you and bae lip-synching a song together and then post said video to Facebook.
  8. Create a Pinterest board for your upcoming wedding or quotes about romance and go crazy captioning each picture with something along the lines of, “For me and bae!”

And that’s just a few suggestions.

During this past year of dating someone, I became incredibly self-conscious of this widely accepted practice of making a relationship as public as possible. Being someone who is well immersed in social media, I struggled with the very real desire to show the world our life as a couple while knowing the insecurities I faced in doing so.

My biggest fear was posting a picture of my boyfriend and myself and having no one like it. I mean, that feels awful anyway, right? I became really afraid if no one liked the photo or commented about how cute we were together this meant people didn’t like us as a couple in real life. It even came to the point where I spent days trying to decide if I actually wanted to post something or not; I was that afraid of no one responding.

unsplash stock photos

As someone who works in social media for a living, let me just lay down some knowledge for you real quick:

Social media is all about timing. You could post the same picture twice in one day at two different times on the same medium, but the one posted during high traffic hours is going to get more likes and comments. Similarly, if you post the same picture at the same time but on two different days, such as Wednesday and Thursday, the one you posted on Thursday is going to get the most amount of recognition and likes (because Thursday is the highest traffic day for social media, particularly on Facebook). Also, if you post a photo and use an emoticon in the description, your likes will increase by almost 60%.

Based on this, it would have been pretty easy for me to manipulate a post of my boyfriend and me to ensure a lot of people liked it. But I came to a point where I had to stop myself from doing this because I knew it would be for the wrong reasons.

Social media, in almost all areas of my life actually, has become a form of validation. This became especially true when I had a boyfriend and wanted to join the masses of other couples posting adorable, well-liked pictures of their relationship. I wanted people to see how fun or in love we were, and I wanted these pictures and posts to be popular. Essentially I wanted the opinion of others (which had been reduced to a simple click of the “like” button) to validate the quality of our relationship.

I am not against people posting images of themselves with their significant other. Love deserves to be seen and celebrated. But I think we need to ask ourselves what the motive is behind posts such as these. Do we genuinely want to highlight how important this significant other is to us for the benefit of that significant other? Or, are we enjoying the attention having a relationship brings us and looking for others to take note of that and like it too? Are you in a place where if you uploaded such a picture and received no likes, would you still feel confident and happy about posting it?

These days, our lives play out on social media. Because of this, we give others the power over and over to determine how we feel about our experiences and ourselves. When it comes to showing our relationship to our followers and friends, it’s important to first understand how we feel about it and resist letting others influence our perception through comments and likes. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should be a means to share your happiness for you, not for the affirmation of others (sorry, MySpace).

More Crowd Surfing…

crowd surfingThe first time I ever crowd surfed was at a Pearl Jam concert.  The first time I ever did a stage dive was also at the same concert. So when I went to a Pearl Jam concert last weekend you better believe that these memories surfaced.  I remember the feeling of being lifted up by hundreds of people as I slowly made my way from the back of the crowd to the stage and then back again. It was exhilarating and scary.

That was in 1993 and I was still in high school.  My life was different then and so were my goals. But the one thing that stuck with me in that moment was the rush of adrenaline I received by being surrounded by so many people who were laying their hands on me, lifting me up, and helping me reach a destination.

A couple of weeks ago, when I saw Pearl Jam again, the concert was much more tame. It didn’t have the same energy that the first concert did in 1993. Some of that has to do with the dynamic of age. The crowd this time talked about back pain, waking up early to take care of kids, and healthcare. The crowd when I was younger could care less about any of that. However, I think there was more to this tameness then just age. I think it was more about movement and where we are as a society.

Smart Phones

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

All of these words have one thing in common. They all require you to stop moving for a moment to record what it is you’re doing.

cellphonesNow I must admit that even I participated in the madness by posting to Facebook my love for the band. Even though I disagree with most of their politics and some of their songs, they still have a place in my life. But I was surprised when I got home and discovered how few pictures and videos I got from the concert compared to the many others that went. The next day I saw people post several videos, pictures and thoughts to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, at one point when I looked out over the crowd during the concert I saw just as many phones as I did heads.

And no crowd surfing.

So why do I share all of this? Because I think this is a symptom of something bigger. Social media is teaching us to stay within ourselves. Although we are sharing our experiences with the world we really aren’t experiencing the very thing we are posting to our Twitter or Instagram.

This doesn’t mean that we have to crowd surf but I do think that we need to do more within a real community and less within a virtual one. This requires conversation, laying hands on one another, and lifting up one another.

Like it does when you crowd surf.

It takes faith, it takes community, it takes risk, but most of all it requires the participation of everyone around you. Now I am not advocating that you crowd surf to experience the same thing I did when I was younger. In fact, don’t…you might get hurt. However, I am suggesting we do less standing around with our phones and do more life together.

The thrill of being lifted up, the laying on of hands, and being pushed in a particular direction should be a part of the Christian community. It is exhilarating and scary…just like it is when you crowd surf for the first time.

Selfie – Word For a Generation

It came as no surprise that the word for this year is “selfie.” As in, taking a picture of yourself and posting it on whatever form of social media that is your preference, facebook, twitter, and/or instagram. In a decade that has continually become more narcissistic and ME has become bigger then WE the “selfie” is just another reminder of the world we live in.

The “selfie” doesn’t just stop with pictures on a website or social media. It has invaded every aspect of our life. The way we digest church and theology. If we don’t like it we move on or throw it out. The way we watch sports. Small plays are made to seem HUGE after we watch a celebration for a simple tackle. It has even impacted the way we think about relationships. We look for what is in it for me.

At first glance you might think this would have nothing to do with the work we do with Project Six19, which aims to promote biblical sexuality. It has a tremendous influence on the message we share. Here are 3 quick thoughts on how this works:

First, when we are so focused on our self we can easily forget about the one that created the self. We are all made in the image of the one that created us but it is not so we turn our attention upon us but rather turn our attention towards others. In fact, in Scripture when sex is first implied it is about being known…not about being seen. This would imply that it has more to do with others then the self.

Second, the biblical attitude towards sex and sexuality is always in the context of obedience. It is not restrictive in the sense of “no” but it is an attitude that reflects the beauty of the gift that God created and our desire to honor Him rather than just making it about a list of rules. When we turn inward and become more focused on the ME part of that equation then obedience becomes a lower priority.

Finally, the “selfie” perpetuates an already lonely society that looks for ways to be found in a culture that is lost. In the book “Alone Together” author Sherry Turkle argues that technology has become the architect for our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication and relationship. That will never lead to us being found….only more lost.

My hope is that the “selfie” turns into a search for the one that created the self. In Him we will find our true beauty and an intimacy that could never be matched anywhere else.