Our Story Begins:
Not Just The Birds And The Bees Anymore
The time has come for the “talk”. But the talk got far more complicated than is used to be. It’s not just the birds and bees making more birds and bees.
Case in point: a new study from the University of Texas, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior details that men and women have vastly different views and regrets about their sexual relationships. UT found that women were more likely to regret to whom they lost their virginity. They were also much more likely to regret moving too fast, sexually, or cheating on their partners. Men, on the other hand, had near opposite thoughts: regretting they were not more sexually active or adventurous in their youth.
Okay, that’s not really new. It’s troublesome because the disparity in the sexes just shouldn’t be such a chasm.
Technology, however, is new. Our phones, iPads, computers, all these things connect us. They also make it far easier to find unwanted porn online. News stories have profiled kids my daughters’ ages with a terrible misconception that sex is what people see in pornography. Teenagers, most of whom have never had sex, and never seen it for real, are thinking this is the way it is.
I had this discussion with my now college-age daughter. Sex isn’t what you see anywhere on the internet, television, or movies. I certainly won’t pretend that they will be waiting forever. I don’t believe they won’t make mistakes or have regrets, either, but those regrets shouldn’t dominate their emotional landscape. Sex, I tell them, isn’t violent – which much of the porn is. Sex isn’t simply visceral, or animalistic, either. Sure, it can be, but what they should strive for is that and emotion.
I told her that sex can be beautiful. Quite often, it is. It’s also awkward. Sex is funny. It’s silly. Sometimes it’s a little – ahem – dirty. It can be totally ridiculous. Sometimes it’s transcendental. At the end of the day, though, all those things are worth it if you are experiencing the most important thing you can experience: this is the closest you will ever be with another person. You are together in ways that are not possible in any other interaction so you should understand the effect and the consequences of what that does to you. I’ve not been a boy scout, I’ve had my past sexual experiences and none of them measured up to what I had when I was married and in love. Nothing quite had that connection. Now that my wife has passed away, it’s abundantly clear that it’s missing.
It’s not about sex, this isn’t prurient interest. I miss that you catch that person at the wrong point and they giggle because you’ve made them ticklish at the absolute worst moment. I miss the idea that once, in a great while, you just don’t want to leave the bed so you don’t for the entire day. I miss that when you’re there, your entire soul and body laid bare to that other person, flaws and all, you’re not thinking about the blood rushing to your nether regions but the fact that your heart is pumping so fast because of them.
I am, you see, the odd man out from the UT study. Ten years ago, I might have expressed some regret for not sowing more wild oats. Today I regret that I don’t have the partner any more. It’s not the sex, it’s the whole package: sex, love, laughter, closeness and all that goes with it.
Sex, you see, is certainly enjoyable. Love . . . with sex . . . nothing better. My lesson to two girls and twin boys is that you certainly may not get there with every relationship or encounter, but that’s not regrettable. It will certainly give you context, and when you find that person who makes it worthwhile…that’s when the world evaporates around you.
Of course, you should be careful and deliberate. The end result of sex is often having a child, after all. But sex shouldn’t be scary or painful. It is, after all, a shared experience.
What about you? What are your thoughts? What will you tell your children about sex or about what they see or stumble upon online?
Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.