A chance encounter with the hot guy down the hall leads to a night of passionate sex. An innocent game of spin the bottle leads to a make-out session with your best friend ? and you’re the same sex. Your boyfriend invites you to take part in a threesome, and you willingly oblige. This is exactly what your everyday life is like ? isn’t it?
We?re all familiar with the media?s representation of what it means to have a healthy sex life. As a college student, this is the time to be having wild and exciting sexual encounters with a variety of people. If you?re not having lots of adventurous sex, you?re just not normal.
Could this be true? Just because your life doesn?t run like an episode of MTV?s pseudo-porn drama ?Undressed,? does it mean you?re abnormal? Are you being left in the dust while everyone else is having the time of their lives?
The answer is a resounding ?no.? Most Americans are leading a life that is much less sexually adventurous than the media and popular culture?s portrayals of life would let on. As Professor of Clinical and Social Psychology Harry Reis explains, ?American sex life is far more normal than the media would lead you to believe.?
The book ?Sex in America? by Robert T. Michael, et al. discusses a survey conducted by a group of psychologists to determine the true state of sexual relationships in the United States. The survey was entitled the National Health and Social Life Survey and was the most ambitious coverage of the status of Americans? relationships and sex lives to date. What they uncovered is that modern sex and relationships are a lot more mundane than we are often led to believe. The NHSLS discovered that in 1994, over 70 percent of the population had only had one sexual partner in the last year.
In a sample population made up of people aged 18 to 59, the survey determined that one third of the population is having sex more than two times a week, one third is having sex a few times a month, and the remaining third has sex either only a few times a year, or not at all. No study has been based solely on college students, due to problems with the age of consent for psychological studies. Still, these statistics are a far cry from what the average television show, movie or music video would suggest.
?If I was a college student I would be convinced that if I wasn?t having group sex on a balcony at least once a week I was missing out, and that?s not what sex is really about. Certainly not good sex,? Reis said.
?Sex in America? reported that the people who were most physically and emotionally satisfied were married couples. The group that was the least satisfied was that of people who were not married or living with someone ? the group that the media portrays as having the most sex of all.
Other myths about sex were also refuted by the report. The survey found that far fewer people engaged in same-sex encounters and extramarital affairs than was the popular conception.
This type of exaggeration of the facts leads to myths and misconceptions about how one should go about conducting a relationship. The problem with these modern myths about sexuality is that they may create unrealistic expectations for people in relationships.
If a person enters into a relationship with expectations that are based on media standards, he or she may face problems becoming intimate with another person. ?The media puts the emphasis on females being passive, and males being dominant and having to perform,? sophomore Katie Moore said.
Moore also believes that the media gives a very one-dimensional view of homosexual relationships and characters. ?Homosexual characters are either comedians or are stereotyped. Only one side of their personality is portrayed,? Moore said.
?Sex in the media definitely gives you a misconception about how things operate. It makes sex cool, and so if you want to be cool, you?re supposed to be having sex too,? sophomore Chris Alden said.
Freshman Jenni Smith agrees that the media doesn?t present an accurate view of relationships.
?People having sex on the second date isn?t a typical portrayal of life,? Smith said. ?The media puts unnecessary emphasis on sex. People think about sex a lot anyways ? it doesn?t need to be constantly reinforced.?
But what about ?Sex in the City?? Isn?t that a good representation of the life of a modern single woman? What about the people who call in for ?Loveline? and Dr. Ruth? Think of all those people, lining up to get questions about their scandalous sex lives answered. What does that tell us?
It tells us about life, just not everyone?s life. While almost everything shown in the media does have some truth to it, it is important to realize that things get exaggerated and are shown as being far more commonplace than they are in reality. Perhaps this is because the media presents an image of how people want to be living, rather than how they actually are living.
So take a deep breath and relax. Whether you have sex regularly on top of a moving train, or you?ve never had sex at all, don?t worry. You and your sex life are normal, and don?t let television or the movies tell you otherwise.