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Miranda Writes: Relationships, Part 5




by Omar Miranda

Emotional consequences of premarital sex

Now that we understand how the brain works when it comes to attraction, attachment, bonding, sex, and sexuality, let’s turn our attention to the actual dangers of premature sexual involvement. We’ve said before that sex is a powerful motivator and can be an even more powerful drug! A lot of people focus on the normal consequences of premature sexual involvement: pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But I want to let you know that I’ve spent countless hours listening to guys and girls cry their eyes out and regret having sex early because they’re dealing with the emotional consequences (you heard right: emotional consequences) of having sex before marriage.

There are 10 emotional dangers that can result from sexual involvement before marriage, and I would like to list each one and discuss it briefly. The following information is adapted from the article “The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement,” by Thomas Lickona, Ph.D. (downloaded on April 1, 2009, from http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0140.htm and used by the author’s express written permission).

Worry about pregnancy and disease

For many young people who have become sexually active, the fear of pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted disease is a major emotional stress and can cause them to be really stressed out. That’s all they seem to think about. It can also cause actual signs and symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, chest pain, shaking, sweating, feelings of impending doom, syncope (passing out, aka fainting), stomachache, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Regret and self-recrimination
I’ve talked to countless teens and young adults about their sexual behavior, and I’ve never had one person who, looking back, told me that having sex was a good idea! God’s way is always the best way: Wait until you get married to have sex.

Guilt

Guilt is a special form of regret—a strong sense of having done something morally wrong. Guilt can be a healthy moral experience if you take it as a sign that your conscience is alive and working—and as a reason to avoid in the future the behavior that caused you to have a guilty conscience. Girls are more likely than guys to report guilt about a first sexual experience, and the guilt is greater if the experience occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Loss of self-esteem and self-respect
Many persons suffer a loss of self-esteem after they find out they have a sexually transmitted disease. Sometimes the loss of self-esteem after uncommitted sex leads a person into further casual sex, leading to further loss of self-esteem in an oppressive cycle from which it may be hard to break free.

The corruption of character
When we treat others as sexual objects to be used for our selfish pleasure, we not only lose self-respect; we change our character—the kind of person we are becoming. Every choice we make in life affects our character, for good or for bad. Good choices strengthen our character. Bad choices deform our character. Our conscience is the part of our character that distinguishes right from wrong and helps us make good choices. In our current permissive sexual environment, many young people have a badly distorted conscience that accepts as “OK” behaviors that are in fact very wrong. Sex can also corrupt character by leading people to lie to get sex.

Shaken trust

Young people who feel used or betrayed after the breakup of a sexual relationship may experience difficulty trusting in future relationships. They don’t want to be burned again, and before you know it, they are cynical and are untrusting of any emotional connection—sexual or not.

Depression and suicide
Depression becomes more common in the teens, but recent research shows it’s not an automatic consequence of being a teenager. Teens who abstain from risky behavior—such as sex, drugs, and drinking—are the least likely to get depressed. Both guys and girls who engage in high levels of risky behavior are the most likely to get depressed. And for a girl, experimenting even once with sex or drugs significantly increases her risk of depression. In some cases, depression leads to the tragedy of suicide. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Nearly one in five teens says they have seriously considered suicide in the past year. Given what we know about the emotional aftermath of broken sexual relationships, it’s reasonable to think that the pain from such breakups is a factor in the depression and suicide deaths of some young people.

Damaged or ruined relationships
Sex can turn a good relationship bad. Other dimensions of the relationship soon stop developing. Negative emotions enter the picture. Eventually, they poison the relationship.

Stunted Personal Development
Premature sexual involvement not only can stunt the development of a relationship; it can also stunt one’s development as a person. Teenagers who are absorbed in an intense relationship are turning inward at the very time in their lives they should be reaching out—forming new friendships, joining clubs and teams, developing their interests and skills, taking on bigger social responsibilities. The teen years are a critical period for learning and development that will lay the foundation for a young person’s future. Opportunities missed then can never be regained. If young people don’t take advantage of these opportunities, they may never develop their full potential. The risk appears to be greater for girls who get sexually involved and thereby close the door on other interests and relationships.

Negative effects on marriage
Most teens say they dream of being happily married someday. They should ask themselves, “What sexual decisions at this point in my life will help me realize my dream of a happy marriage? What problems might I cause for myself or my future spouse by being sexually intimate before marriage?” Here are four such problems:

Comparisons and flashbacks.
If you have had sex with someone other than your marriage partner, there may be a tendency, sometimes beyond your control, to compare your spouse with previous partners. Both men and women may also experience “sexual flashbacks”—mental images of previous partners—that can disrupt marital sexual intimacy.

Infidelity. Adultery can end a marriage. Many experts believe that infidelity on the part of both sexes has risen in recent decades.

Infertility.
Many newly married American couples cannot conceive a baby. Infertility can be a tremendous stress on a marriage. If it was caused by a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia, the stress is even greater. (Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and scarring and narrowing of a woman’s fallopian tubes; this condition may prevent her eggs from being able to reach the uterus to be fertilized by the man’s sperm.)
A greater chance of divorce. Researchers have found that living together before marriage is associated with a greater risk of divorce. The more live-in partners you have before marriage, the greater your chance of marital breakdown. 

Sex can be a source of great pleasure and joy. But it’s clear that it can also be the source of deep wounds and suffering. What makes the difference is the relationship within which it occurs. Sex is most joyful, meaningful, and fulfilling—most emotionally safe as well as physically safe—when it occurs within a loving, total, and binding commitment (marriage).

Sex is an incredible gift that God has given us. But it is meant to be used responsibly within the confines of a lifelong, committed, heterosexual, monogamous (one man with one woman) relationship (marriage). Sex is a powerful bonder and motivator and can “glue” or connect two people together for life! Sex is, in many respects, a stronger drug than cocaine or heroin. If sex is used either before or outside of marriage, it can do a lot of damage both to emotions and to relationships.

God says that the marriage bed should remain undefiled. The best way for that to happen is for teens to refrain from having sex until they get married. If they have already had sex, they can confess their sin to God and repent, and the marriage bed can still be undefiled!

Teens, it’s all up to you now. I hope you’ll make the right decision. God wants you to have happiness, joy, and peace of mind.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912
   
Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.




 





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