Ask The Sexperts
Intriguing, Interesting and Important Question
- Do teen dating relationships last?
- How can I tell the difference between LOVE and LUST?
- Does oral sex count as real sex?
- Is it true that it is illegal for a minor to engage in sexual activity with an older person?
- How do alcohol and drugs affect sexuality?
- Does "Friends with Benefits" really work?
- I've heard a lot of things you can do to avoid pregnancy. Are they true?
- Does what I see on TV and in the movies really affect how I feel about sex?
Do teen dating relationships last?
Rarely. A recent study showed that 22% of people married their high school crush. And of those who did marry 17% got divorced. (1) So five percent of people from age 18 to 89 are still married to their high school sweetheart. Bummer!
What does this tell us? It says that the great majority of teen relationships don’t last. In fact, we know from research that half of teen relationships break up in the first six months. (2) So we should think about whether or not we want to trust people with our deepest thoughts and emotions, as well as our bodies, knowing that this is most likely a short-lived relationship.
How can I tell the difference between LOVE and LUST?
This one can really trip us up. Sometimes it seems as though someone loves us but in reality they may be lusting after us. It can be hard to distinguish between the two because they can look and sound a lot alike.
The key to telling them apart is that love is self-less and lust is selfish. Love is unconditional and wants what is best for the other person. It doesn’t pressure. Lust on the other hand is very conditional
Lust can sound like this… “Come on baby, isn’t it time we showed how much we love each other.” That sounds like love but at the heart of the matter it’s most likely that one person is trying to use another to meet their temporary physical need. If a person really loves us, then we shouldn’t have to put out for them to prove we love them back.
Does oral sex count as real sex?
We sometimes complicate the most simple issues, but this is a legitimate question we wrestle with all the time, especially when our hormones are driving us crazy! We know that each person has their own moral perspective about oral sex, so we won’t address that. However, let’s talk about oral sex from a perspective that is practical and medical. Every time this question comes up, the word sex is part of the question. What should that tell us? The straight answer to the question is YES! Oral sex is one of many forms of sexual intercourse. Intercourse is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “physical sexual contact between individuals that involves the genitalia of at least one person.” Oral sex fits that definition.
Medical experts agree with Webster that oral sex is sex. Research shows that sexual transmitted diseases can be transferred via oral sex. The likelihood varies depending on which disease or infection we are talking about. We can check out the CDC’s Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/STD/) for more information on specific STDs.
Is it true that it is illegal for a minor to engage in sexual activity with an older person?
First let’s agree that we are teenagers, not lawyers. We tend to know the law best when we get busted for breaking it! The folks at Austin LifeGuard are not lawyers either. They’re sex educators. So, don’t use this Web site for legal advice. However, we should know already that sexual abuse of any kind is illegal. It is against the law for any person of any age to force another person into sexual activity. When we talk about consensual sex (meaning both people willingly take part) then yes, there are some laws that come into play.
A person over the age of sexual consent (which in Texas is 17 years old) can not legally engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of sexual consent. (3) And yes, that goes for all forms of sexual activity… oral sex and sexual touching included. Even if the under aged person gives consent, the older person can still be prosecuted. The legal term is called statutory rape.
If a person is charged with statutory rape and that person is less than three years older than the other party invoved, the person charged can use the little age difference as a defense in court proceedings, but there is no guarantee that such a defense will persuade a judge to dismiss the case. Also, a person can not be charged with statutory rape in Texas if the person is married to the under-age partner.
How do alcohol and drugs affect sexuality?
Generally speaking, we know that when a person is under the influence their drive for pleasure increases, and their ability to make good decisions decreases. That’s why we see or hear about people doing something sexual with someone else and then saying “Why did I do that? That was so stupid!” Research shows that 13% of teens report having done something sexual while using drugs or alcohol that they wouldn't have done while sober. (4)
Drugs and alcohol can influence non-consensual sex as well. A study revealed that alcohol was the major contributing factor in 90% of date rape cases. (5)
Does “Friends with Benefits” really work?
No. Just ask anyone who has tried it. “Friends with Benefits” is defined as two friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. If there’s one thing we know about sex, it’s that it is not just a physical thing. Sex can affect us emotionally, mentally, socially….
The biggest problem we see with “Friends with Benefits” is the emotional complications. It might start out enjoyable but seems to inevitably end in jealousy, frustration and/or heartache. There is research that suggests that during sexual activity the brain releases hormones that bond partners together emotionally. (6) Thus it’s impossible to do the physical without the emotional.
Furthermore these types of relationships are lust-driven (see the answer for Love vs. Lust) and we need to be careful to make sure we aren’t being used.
I’ve heard a lot of things you can do to avoid pregnancy. Are they true?
There are lots of urban myths about tricks to use to avoid getting pregnant. We have to remember that myths are not truths. Most of these myths are used by people who want to talk someone else into having sex with them. Some examples are…
- You can’t get pregnant if it’s the first time you have sex. NOT TRUE
- You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a hot tub, pool or bath tub. NOT TRUE
- You can’t get pregnant in certain sexual positions, like if the girl is on top. NOT TRUE
- You can’t get pregnant if you are on your period. NOT TRUE
- You can’t get pregnant if you use the pull out method. NOT TRUE, there can be sperm present before, during and after sex.
- You can’t get pregnant if you do certain strenuous activities after sex, like jump up and down. NOT TRUE
- You can’t get pregnant if you wear a condom. NOT TRUE You can greatly reduce your risk, but not eliminate it. (7)
Does what I see on TV and in the movies really affect how I feel about sex?
Yes. Simply put, sex sells. And we live in the world of 24/7 media. We can be exposed to sexual messages all day every day through television, movies, music, video games, social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, surfing the web...
Casual sex has been normalized in the media. But the truth is that the percentages of people on TV who are sexually active versus the percentage of people in the real world who are sexually active don’t match up. It seems like virtually no one on TV is practicing abstinence, but in a 2007 study, the Center for Disease Control revealed that more than 50% of high school aged men and women were abstinent. (8) It’s not as “normal” as it seems.
It is becoming more and more socially accepted to engage in casual sex or oral sex. But keep in mind that just because something is socially acceptable, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe. STDs are at epidemic levels in people ages 15 to 24, and teen pregnancy rates are through the roof.
- Lookadoo, Justin, DiMarco, Hayley. Dateable: Are You? Are They? Revell (2003).
- The Oxytocin Factor, Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, Da Capo Press; export ed edition September 2003
- Texas Statute 21.11. INDECENCY WITH A CHILD
- The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Between 1991-2001
- Facts on Tap, Just the Frightening Facts Ma'am. http://www.factsontap.org/factsontap/risky/the_facts.htm Accessed May 2009.
- McIlhaney, Joe (S.), Bush, Freda (McKissic). Hooked New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children. Northfield Publishing;(2008).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Condoms Fact Sheet In Brief." http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/brief.html Accessed May 2009.
- Center for Disease Control, US Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2007