Talking about sexual relationships is opening the most important chapter, though the least assumed one, of the life’s themes: the drive to fulfill one’s deepest need to be complete as a person. Sex is, ultimately, a quest for personal fulfillment disguised in another strong feeling: pleasure. It is pleasure, the intense, magical, addicting pleasure of sex that is the reason why religions – with all its strict moral values – , societies and ethic have always been so violently concerned to restrict, shape, twist and control its expression. The erotic world is a world apart, with a mystical language that has no parallel with everyday language. It is always transgression of an established order, it is chaos, it is in itself intrinsically woven with the antithesis of order, therefore, according to Francesco Alberoni, « a strong sexual attraction does not respect any social or moral order, ignores the neutrality of different social roles, connects in an unpredictable way what must be officially separated.» There is no neutrality in the world of sexuality : all the opposites, all the inner fights, all the fears and even sins and blessings are played when sexuality is at stake and this is a game where all can be won or often lost: dignity, prestige, honor, a social position . There are no excuses when sexuality is involved.
One question that arises from what was exposed before, concerns the morality of sexuality. It is a timeless question and will, probably, be always present as long as society is structured with the same ancient Western/Eastern premises: should sexual relationships be confined to marriage? In other words, should the sacred invade the profane and tame it? Love and sex are often dangerously confused although they are by no means synonyms: They can tune in a perfect, unique world of complementarity, when two people are deeply in love. Francesco Alberoni defines this collision of two souls, as «the nascent state» or «ignition state», which according to him is the «essence of a collective movement made up exclusively of two people. » This initial state of wonder, where a transcendent mingle of love and sexual drive are intimately connected, is defied by a lot of quests and mutual tests before it tends to create a unity: marriage. It is such a hard process that it is frequently aborted.
Most societies make a tremendous effort to indoctrinate people with a narrow two-faced vision of reality: either something is «right» or it is «wrong». According to this social and religious framework, sexuality is «framed» as moral or immoral. Therefore, to be moral, you ought to enroll in a sexual relationship only within marriage. But, how many relationships – mainly sexual ones – that start with intensity and passion, lead to marriage? Is it rational, even fair, to make such an unrealistic demand, based solely in moral and religious values? Most religions condemn sexual intercourse outside marriage, because they are well aware of the power of sexuality. However, it has been a lost battle along the history of mankind, mainly because if sexuality cannot be openly expressed, it will find hidden ways to appease its thirst and sneaky resources to attain its aim.
A very pertinent question should arise: can sex education influence the way people view the issues involved with sexual relationships? As long as a responsible sex education does not focus on the real target: teaching the younger ones how to choose the best moment, the best partner, based on the right reasons, to enroll in a healthy, mature, responsible and fulfilling sexual relationship, most of them will play the game of transgression as a quest for independence and even a desperate pursuit of personal fulfillment. The price can be high, though: sexual diseases, loss of self-esteem, and a broken heart. But none of these negative consequences can be totally avoided, only prevented, if sex education plays its role: help people to understand themselves and their own deepest wishes, being sexuality a top priority issue.
Teresa Doueil in her book «Maldito Amor», which can be translated as «Accursed Love», explains that most couples nowadays are negatively influenced by the excessive attention given to sexuality. There are different stages in a marriage, there are adjustments to be done and although sexuality is a basilar stone, it is not the only source of pleasure for a mature and well structured couple. However, more and more couples are suffering from what she calls lack of sexual conjugation, which can become a serious problem. In other words, there are different wishes, different intensity and different expectations between the members of the couple – mainly in heterosexual couples – that may jeopardize any relationship, even if these couples had previous, happy, pre-marital sexual relationships. Time and routines can change the shape of a sexual relationship until it becomes unrecognizable. Therefore, there is not a direct connection between pre-marital sexual experience and marital sexual fulfillment in your marriage, but the problem can eventually become worse if a marriage is started without a previous solid knowledge of the sexual compatibility between a couple. Infidelity and divorce can, ultimately, be the answer to this quest for a sexual fulfillment that cannot be attained.
An interesting question remains to be asked: what are the differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships in this regard? A conclusion can be reached, according to several studies: the duration of a relationship tends to be shorter and promiscuity greater in homosexual relationships than in heterosexual ones. A scientific study conducted by Bell and Weinberg showed that, and I quote: «78% of male homo-sexual «affairs» (relationships entered into with an intent of commitment) lasted less than three years. Only 12% lasted five years or longer. Certainly, this shows a pattern of broken relationships that must be painful for many.». Therefore, although sexual freedom is bigger, happiness and fulfillment are not. Indeed, a survey by Harold I. Lief also showed that homosexual men are not as happy as other men and 70% percent stated that they thought homosexuals' issues were due to personal conflicts not social stigmatization. (Study by Harold I. Lief, Sexual Survey Number 4: Current Thinking on Homosexuality, Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality 2 (1977), pp.110- 111 (Cited in Growing Up Straight by George A. Reker). Nonetheless, recent studies have shown that same-sex marriages are becoming a more a more desired reality in the gay community, with the support of governments, which implies that mentality, especially among gay men is changing and sexual behaviour and sexual relationships are becoming more serious and thoughtful. According to Robert Weiss, an expert in the studies of men gay behaviour, and I quote «the gay community used to deride marriage as an old-fashioned, demeaning, heterosexual ritual. Now, however, gay marriage is a hard-fought-for reality». Although most religions in the world are strongly against homosexual relationships and give no blessing to same-sex marriages, the civil society is less dogmatic and is becoming more welcoming to gay couples in general. This social shift has led to another more important shift: men’s attitude towards monogamy and marriage and eventually a change in their sexual behavior, as there seems to be lots of people thinking twice about their sexual activities , trying to understand if the extreme pleasure they have been collecting here an there can be a addiction, a destructive behavior , more than a pleasant one. Sometimes pleasure has a high price, and one not worth it.
Heterosexual or homosexual relationships are, in the end, just relationships between two individuals who seek emotional and sexual happiness together. It may be a long way before individuals realize that the highest and most exquisite sort of sexual pleasure can only be achieved with a focused attention on a specific, unique person. Concentration, not dispersion, is the secret ingredient that turns an ordinary sexual relationship into an extraordinary one.
All in all, due to the complexity of the subject, there are no straight paths to lead you in the world of sexual relationships and there is not a magical formula to make you achieve perfection. Maybe you should be able to learn how to deal with your sexual and love feelings the same way you learn to deal with the alphabet: acknowledging that different combinations of symbols create different words. None of the symbols is right or wrong: it simply is. Until we are able to do it, we will keep confusing panoply of feelings like desire, wish for intimacy, friendship, loneliness, sexual drive, guilt, jealousy and love and make all the wrong combinations. Love and sexuality make a perfect two, but “life is desire. Sex is desire. Sex is life” (F. Alberoni) , so ignoring the ambivalence of sexuality within a relationship, trying to immure it within codes, rules, moral values, dogmatisms may lead to a twisted form of its expression, which, ultimately is more morally destructive than assuming a healthy , open-minded, well informed sexuality. As Daphne Rose Kingma wrote: “Unfortunately, it’s precisely because we don’t acknowledge our ambivalence that we often allow it to sabotage our relationships or to prevent us from getting into them in the first place”. (p72). It’s worth thinking about these wise words, before we allow ourselves to sabotage our own right to a happy, emotional and sexual relationship.
Exodus Global Alliance – Is Homosexuality healthy? Retrieved
Psych Central – Cruise Control: Understanding Gay Men and Sex Addiction, by Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S - Retrieved~
Alberoni, Francesco (2005) . Sexo e Amor (Sex and Love) . Bertrand Editora , p 207
Alberoni, Francesco (2001) . Enamoramento e Amor ( falling in love and Love) . Bertrand Editora
Doueil, Teresa (2002, June). Maldito Amor . Editorial Presença
Kingma, D. Rose, (1996). Finding True Love . Conari Press