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?

Convincing Has No Place in Conversations About Consent

By Amy Juran

Consent

I was watching a spoof about sex ed by John Oliver the other night.

While a lot of the content was primarily humorous, I was very intrigued when they took a good chunk of the segment to talk about consent.  They showed some hilariously outdated clips about a boy asking a girl to have sex and the girl answering with various versions of “no.”  Each time, the boy responded with either a plea to reconsider, or an eye roll of irritation.

Though my views and opinions aren’t completely aligned with Oliver’s (to see what I mean, watch the spoof here *Graphic language and some content*), I was impressed by his reaction to the videos. Like me, Oliver was appalled by the fact that this girl was getting coached as to how to say “no”confidently, while no one was reprimanding the boy about being disrespectful of her wishes.  I think our culture has emphasized how to stand up for ourselves while failing to teach us how to recognize the signals we are getting from others.

When it comes to sex and physical intimacy, convincing someone to do these things should never be part of the scenario.

You shouldn’t have to talk them into being on board with something, nor should you take it upon yourself to interpret their words how you think they might have meant them. Under no circumstances does “no” translate to “yes.” Saying “no” isn’t being coy or playing games. “No” means no. Period.

And this goes for having sex, kissing, or holding hands while walking down the street; if one person isn’t totally comfortable with something, that is the final word.

An article from Love is Respect defines consent as “communicating every step of the way.”  Even if you have established boundaries as a couple, it’s possible feelings can change. It’s important to continue having open conversations even if you’ve been together for a while.

If you are the one who is uncomfortable with the direction that a physical situation is going, you must be assertive. Dropping subtle hints or passively protesting a behavior may not get the message across entirely.  Even if you feel that you are past the point of no return, you are never obligated to continue any activity you are not okay with.

On the other side, don’t ever assume that a behavior is consent to go further.  Even if someone is wearing suggestive clothing, or being flirty and forward, that is not code for what they are willing to do sexually.  Verbal communication is the only way to confidently know what both people are comfortable pursuing.

All of this talking and checking in can feel akward, but ultimately it will lead to the freedom that comes with confidently knowing the other person is comfortable. When no boundaries are being crossed or feelings being hurt, it can make relationships so much healthier and stronger.  It builds trust between both people, and completely eliminates the possibility of someone misinterpreting the other’s actions.

How have you handled conversations about consent? What worked well? 

A Kiss Is Not A Contract, So You Better DTR

By Amy Juran

In an attempt to stay chill and keep things from getting too serious, we tend to shy away from labelling our relationships.

In reality, having a good DTR (defining the relationship) is incredibly healthy for everyone involved.

There is a natural period of time when we get to know someone and spend time with that person to find out if they are someone we could imagine dating. It can be awkward to finally start that conversation of “So…what are we doing here?”

No one wants to come across as clingy or needy, but it is perfectly natural to desire to know where you stand with another person. Just because you talk, look, and act like you’re dating doesn’t necessarily grant either of you the confidence to feel fully secure.

Here are four benefits that can come with taking the leap and starting the talk:

1.) Impart value on the other person

Putting a label on a relationship is a declaration of how you feel about the other person. When you are willing to make it official, you are placing value on a person that not only builds their confidence but imparts an affectionate commitment. If the other person gets the feeling you are hesitant for whatever reason, it can cause them to wonder if they are doing something wrong. But if you can respect them enough to open up and share your desire to be in a relationship, you are letting this person know you see them as more than a casual “hang out buddy” and as someone you wish to pursue with the integrity of a commitment.

2.) Build your own confidence and self worth

So much of how we view our self worth is derived from how other people treat us, whether we realize it or not. The desire to have clarity regarding your role in someone’s life doesn’t make you overly sensitive; it gives you the confidence to live into that role fully!

When we are unsure of how another person feels about us we tend to approach situations with hesitancy and can internalize our true feelings. But when we know that either yes, this person wants to be committed to me, or no, they only desire a platonic relationship, we have the choice to proceed with assurance or to even distance ourselves from this person.

In trying to show another person we care, it is important we don’t forget our own value. In not wanting to push the conversation because we don’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable, we cannot diminish the importance of creating for ourselves.

3.) Avoid Confusion

Relationships can be so hard to navigate, even for couples who have been together for years, so it is only natural that newer relationships come with their own type of confusion as they blossom.

If you have been hanging out with someone and aren’t sure whether it’s the right time to have the talk, you can ask yourself, “What is keeping me from wanting to have an open conversation about this?” You might be surprised by the answers that arise. If you aren’t feeling good about the situation for whatever reason, this may be a sign you should rethink being with this person at all. Sometimes avoiding the DTR is a way of avoiding the clear reasons why you shouldn’t be together.

Opening up and seeing where the other person stands is the best way to relieve anxiety or confusion, and to protect yourself from becoming too attached to someone who doesn’t share the same affection.

4.). Establish physical boundaries

The DTR is the perfect time to set physical boundaries. It’s like laying down the ground rules before you start a game! Without the initial check in, it can be easy to think you’re just friends, and it would be weird to bring it up. However, it’s unlikely when you’re in the heat of the moment with the person you’re interested in, you will stop to analyze if your actions are attached to any sort of lasting commitment.  By talking with each other about how intimate you want to be, you can lessen the likelihood of misinterpreted actions and can trust one another to hold to what you mutually decided.  On the flip side, living in ambiguity is the surest way to end up in a situation that you don’t want to be in, so set the boundaries.

Take the leap. Define the relationship. You’ll be glad you did!

Have you ever been in a situation where you wish you had defined the relationship better? 

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.

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.

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.

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.