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.

Why Your Sex Life is Their Business

By Amy Juran

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Contrary to the words of Salt N Pepa, “If I wanna take a guy home with me tonight, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” it’s actually really important that we talk to friends and family about our sex lives (or lack thereof).

The funny thing about sex and sexuality is that it’s always influencing our behavior and decisions, even in Christian relationships, and yet we rarely want to talk about it.

I would consider myself a pretty private person. This is not necessarily because I have much to hide, but because I think there are some things that are not anyone else’s business, and it takes a certain degree of trust between people to earn this kind of vulnerability. My view of sexuality used to be very much in line with this, considering how personal physical intimacy is. However, I’ve found being transparent with trusted friends and family about my sexuality is one of the healthiest things I could do for my romantic relationships.

In her book Real Sex, author Lauren Winner touches on the idea of “communal sex.” Communal sex does not mean sex between multiple people, but that sexuality is something meant to be talked about and worked through with other believers. Winner asks the reader the question of whether or not it’s appropriate to ask our Christian friends about their sex lives, and – on the flip side –  whether we should be talking vulnerably with others about our own physical intimacy.

God calls us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galations 6:2) and to speak truth in love to each other. Sharing in our personal lives gives us the opportunity to grow together and challenge ourselves. It can develop a beautiful community striving for God’s will, and can prevent and heal so much of the hurt that comes with isolation.

We’re all familiar with this situation: a friend starts dating someone, and they are happy and blissful at first, but little by little start to pull away from close friends and social situations to spend time with just that person. Sometimes this can be an indication of an abusive or controlling partner, but sometimes we tend to think our relationships and sexuality are our business alone.

When we believe this idea, we naturally start to isolate from others.

If you’re unmarried it’s important to set physical boundaries with your significant other, but when you are both being driven by emotions it can be easy to flex the lines. There can also be an element of shame that comes with crossing those boundaries. It can be easy to want to avoid the judgment of others by not sharing your struggles. But when you get other people involved, and they are able to ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable, they can restore the validity of promises you made to yourself, your partner, and to God.

If you’re married, it is still important to talk about your sex life. To some this might seem like a violation of the sacredness of marriage, but it’s actually the opposite. In James we read, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” By sharing in community about our struggles and our joys, we can build each other up and bring peace to the fact that everyone hits rough patches.

God never intended for us to do this life alone. (Tweet this!)

He desires rich, challenging and caring community, and this can only be accomplished when we are transparent with each other. The result of this community is a healthier view of romantic relationships. It allows us to see things from the bigger picture and keep God at the core of everything we do. From now on I’ve chosen not to shy away from conversations with trusted people about sexuality because I know healing, growth, and relational intimacy will come from it.

4 Big Questions You Need to Ask About Your Relationship

By Julia Feeser

Love is, most definitely, blind.

I dated my high school boyfriend, Tony, for ten months. We had been together approximately four months when my parents invited him over for dinner. We chatted and laughed (as much as two dating 16-year-olds can comfortably chat and laugh when parents are present), and in my opinion the dinner went great.

But after Tony left my mom turned to me and said, “That Tony’s kind of a know-it-all, isn’t he?”

Suddenly, I could see she was absolutely right. Tony did have a tendency to share his wealth of knowledge about, well, anything. My mother had noticed it immediately. I, so taken with Tony’s guitar-playing and adorable braces, had not.

Tony’s somewhat know-it-all personality was certainly not a deal-breaker in our relationship. But it’s true that when we have deep feelings for someone we tend to overlook or simply not see certain things about our significant other and thus potential problems within our relationship. Our affection and nearness to the relationship can easily “blind” us to things that may not be functioning well or need attention. When this happens it’s difficult to see what may appear obvious to others.

This is why it’s so important to invite trusted people into our relationships. I don’t mean they have to join you on dates or read your texts to each other, but allowing a trusted friend or adult to see and know your relationship is crucial to maintaining a healthy love life.

Giving someone else insight into your dating relationship allows him or her to see both the good and bad and thus give you honest feedback about how they see the relationship going. However, this is not always an easy thing.

Asking for someone’s honest opinion on anything in our lives can be difficult, but this can be especially true when it comes to romantic relationships. We don’t always want to know if there is something in our relationship that may need fixing or, worst of all, may be a deal-breaker. But knowing these things help us see our relationships in an honest way and thus know how to make the best decisions for ourselves and our significant others.

Before you run out and start asking everyone’s opinion about your relationship, make sure you deliberately find someone you trust. Know whose opinions are of value and come from a place of truth and love. It’s all right to be picky about who you let into something as significant as your relationship.

Here are four big questions you need to ask about your relationship:

  1.  Do you think this person fits me well? Do we have personalities, lifestyles and values that work well together? Am I accommodating anything about this person that could potentially become more difficult down the road?
  2. Do you see anything about this relationship that is unhealthy? How do you see us handling things like communication, quality time or physicality?
  3. Am I being myself? When I am around this person, do you see me being fully myself or am I acting in a way I think will get this person to like me most?
  4. Am I showing this person the love/attention/respect they deserve? Pretty self-explanatory.

We’re not always capable of seeing things other may notice in our relationships, both good and bad. But seeking an honest and healthy relationship starts with having a clear (and willing) perspective.

5 Thoughts on Sexual Integrity

Bells have started ringing once again in the hallways of America’s schools. By now kids have worn out their new back-to-school clothes and the sniffles are starting to invade the hallways of our homes. And with the start of the school year we are starting to get back into the swing of things here at Project Six19. Something we will talk about a lot this year is how to engage in the conversations on sexual integrity as both parents and as youth workers. Here are five things to consider as you engage this subject with your son, daughter, or student.

First, it’s not about saying NO. Often we think that when we talk about abstinence, sexual purity, or as we say it, sexual integrity, we are training our youth to speak in the negative. However, I think we miss something important when all we do is teach our youth to say, ‘no’.

This generation desires to know what they stand for, not against. If we don’t do a good job pointing out all the reasons for waiting, then someone else (our culture for instance) will point all the reasons not to wait. This is not only important semantically but also logically. Often times the church culture we surround ourselves in can be more about sin management. However, as a Christian, choosing to wait should not be a primary decision, but secondary one as a Christian. It should come out of our desire to say YES to following Christ which means saying YES to scripture which leads to a particular way of living.

Second, be clear with your values. Sometimes we think we’ve clearly spoken what we believe only to find we haven’t. Or, and this is common, we just expect our kids to know what we believe. Well, yes, that last statement could be true if we learned through some sort of osmosis or vulcan mind mold. But as of this writing I am not aware of anything like that. So words and living our life in a way that reflects these values is our best way of communicating these truths.

Live out LOVE. This is a phrase we’ve been kicking around the office this summer. Sometimes our expectations go un-communicated. However, if I’ve never spoken my expectations then how can I ask for those things to happen? Often our biggest disappointments come from unmet expectations. Therefore, be sure to share yours with your son, daughter, or student. Then make sure your life also reflects the expectations that you are holding others to.

Third, we are not the sum of our past choices. This is important for both parents and teens to understand. Parents need to be careful not to lay down the law based on their own hurt or pain. Understanding past mistakes, knowing you are forgiven, and clearly being able to articulate why you believe your choice was a mistake is one thing. Teaching or sharing a value that you believe only because of your own pain, hurt, or shame is another. When we discuss a subject as sensitive and as important as when and where we choose to have sex, we need to be aware of how it is shared. Most times our past experiences influence this discussion.

I also share this because we might have students that have already made a different decision. Or even worse, that decision was stolen from them. We need to make sure that when we are sharing our values we also let our sons, daughters, and students know there is nothing they can do to separate them from the grace and forgiveness found through Jesus Christ.

Fourth, we are also not the sum of our future choices. Shame is one thing but pride is another. Shame communicates that I am a mistake. Pride communicates that I am without mistakes. Both are detrimental to our emotional and spiritual health. Even though our students might be making a choice to wait does not make them better or even more ‘pure’ than the next person. They are simply making a choice that is best for their sexual health. And yes, they are honoring God with their bodies which is an incredible testimony to the culture we live in. But let’s be sure we recognize this does not make us better than anyone else.

Finally, where we find our identity is where we will find our choices. In his letter to the Philippians Paul writes, ‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.’ (Philippians 1:27) When our identity is cemented in something or someone our choice will pour out from that one source and others will notice. When we are speaking to our sons, daughters, and students, Jesus Christ should to be the one place, one choice, one relationship we need to be pointing.  Identity can be found in so many things in our culture but none are as powerful as the transforming power of Christ.