Disclaimer: this article features responses from 17-18-year-olds either in or wanting heterosexual relationships.
For years now attitudes towards sex and relationships have been changing. From the rise of acceptance of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender relationships to the increase in interracial relationships, it’s pretty clear that the diversity we’re witnessing in couples today is completely different to what we would have seen in society just 50 years ago.
By the year 2050, National Geographic predicts that the average American will be some of ‘mixed race’, which would have been considered impossible before 1967 when interracial marriage was illegal.
If there’s one thing, however, that hasn’t changed, it’s the struggle women experience when trying to get to know a guy they like and vice versa. Both girls and boys find it hard to decipher what the other is thinking and feeling but at the same time, they are too scared to ask at the risk of humiliation.
There is a stigma that exists in society that all men are bad and they’re only going to break your heart because all they want is sex, but is that really true?
Do boys have the ability to have meaningful relationships?
Do they have emotions? No, they can’t right because they’re all trash… right?
I interviewed four friends — two girls and two boys, two are currently single and the other two are dating each other — to find out what they think about sex and relationships and also what they think the other sex feels about the same thing.
Do you look for a more physical or emotional relationship?
All four participants answered emotional, but what was interesting was when asked what the opposite sex answered both boys answered emotional but one girl answered physical. When considering the question, I realised that I would have answered boys would want a physical relationship too because that’s what society teaches us. Obviously, I know that boys are capable of feeling things but the way in which some speak so freely about sex and my doubt in boys desiring a mostly emotional relationship has always caused me to put a pressure on myself that a boy would only like the physical aspect of a relationship which in turn has made me somewhat apprehensive about pursuing crushes.
There was a 100% no answer to a similar question where participants were asked if they would stay with a person if the sex was great but the conversation was not.
If you had a crush would you pursue it?
Three people said that they would be “somewhere in the middle of no and yes” but one answered that they would attempt to get as close to their crush without making it too obvious. It was interesting considering the three who answered somewhere in the middle thought the opposite sex would answer yes.
Now if you’re anything like me, you get crushes and then fall hard. I must confess when I do crush on guys, I tend to fall for personalities before I fall for looks which helps me in some ways after I get over said crushes because I end up with friends that I know I would get on well with.
Do you think society holds boys and girls to a different standard?
This question was meant in a sense that if a girl is messaging many guys and leading them on, would society attack her in the same way they would attack a boy? It rendered a 50-50 split but the reasoning behind answers ranged from, “the term fuckboy is more prolific in society and so they are generally called out more” to “it is more acceptable for a guy to be sexually promiscuous than a girl”. One argument, though, stated that boys tend not to show their emotions in heartbreaks and girls are more discrete with their promiscuity whereas girls would be more public if they had been messed about by a guy.
What’s your stance on cheating? Is it ever acceptable?
All answered no (one person, in particular, said that they stopped being friends with people because they had cheated), but more than one mentioned the fact that there needs to be boundaries set within the relationship to clarify what cheating is; whether it is the act of texting someone else, flirting, accidental cheating whilst drunk or if they have been kissed by someone else.
If you could ask the opposite sex a question about anything to do with sex and relationships what would it be?
From the girls to the boys:
How sexually active do you think girls should be? i.e. how many sexual partners in a lifetime/how sexually confident?
Do you take relationships seriously?
From the boys to the girls:
How can we better ourselves? i.e. how can we better the ways in which people view us?
Do we have to be in a relationship before we can have sex or are you just as willing to be friends with benefits as guys are?
If there’s anything I learned from this investigation it’s that relationships do suck from time to time especially if you’re at that stage where you’re not sure what the other wants to get out of it.
Clarifying boundaries does help. It’s important to know what buttons you can push and ones to steer clear of in order to prevent unnecessary arguments and break-ups later down the line.
Never, and I repeat never, get into relationships if you know you’re not ready for one. You should be the one that decides, whether you’re 17 or 45.
Remember that sex isn’t everything. We hear more and more stories from people’s sexual experiences and that doesn’t mean you should feel pressured into doing it or feel pressure to be a sex specialist when you do come to losing your virginity. Sex is a part of romantic relationships but it shouldn’t be the only reason why you stay with your significant other.
Don’t feel worried about getting into a relationship if it’s your first one. If you’re worried about anything physical that should be something you’re comfortable disclosing to your partner and any apprehension you have should cause alarm bells to ring that maybe you don’t trust them enough yet.
And most of all, just remember that there’s a massive chance the person you’re dating is feeling the same way too so talk to them, communication is fundamental to the success of relationships.