Dating in a World of Free Sex and Pornography

· Personal Investigations

Ah, the world of dating – the excitement of the unknown, the passion of the pursuit, the bliss of romance, the happiness of ever after… It all sounded so awesome when we were children. But for those of us who have grown up in the real world of dating, it usually turns out to be a stressful, competitive, and hurtful experience that keeps us awake at night thinking about ways in which we can change ourselves to be more attractive than our competition to the girl/guy of our dreams. Often, our late night musings fail to give us the edge we seek.

I never intended to be a part of the dating scene for as long as I have been, but my years of experience have given me some insight into some of the issues of modern dating that readers might find useful. Probably the biggest issue of the day is free access to sex and pornography and how it affects dating and relationships. I’ll attempt to address some of the problems of this issue, as well as offer some solutions that have worked well for me as a single male.

Female Competition

Scholars of human courtship behavior have rather firmly established that women are the attractors among human couples. We have traditionally been taught that men are the initiators in relationships, and this is partly true. We men often make the first conscious move, and we usually are the ones who actively pursue women. But the initiation usually goes something like this:
>> Girl and guy become aware of each other
>> Girl and guy are attracted to each other
>> Girl signals to the guy that she wants him to approach her, usually through subconscious non-verbal communication, or body language
>> Guy, who is already attracted to the girl, perceives her invitation and consciously approaches her

Typically, a perceptive man will not approach a woman who has not signaled to him that his approach is welcome, while men who are less perceptive will offer those creepy, unwelcome advances and won’t take the hint to get lost. This is where the traditional view of the ‘man making the first move’ came from because, as the first conscious action, he has the choice to accept or ignore her invitation. So now that we understand that women are the initial “attractors” in the courtship ritual, we can then make some sense of what that entails.

Perhaps the heaviest burden that women bear in courtship is a complex tightrope of competition – on one hand, she must meet the expectations of the man she’s trying to attract, and on the other hand, she must out-compete the other women trying to steal his attention from her. In addition, she may not simply bear this burden for a specific man, but for men in general, which is simply the desire to ‘be attractive’ in a general sense to draw in suitors. Finally, she bears the burden to keep her attractiveness in check so as not to attract undesirables and creeps. We tend to gauge a woman’s desirability upon the quality and quantity of men she can attract, which is why attraction-based labels such as slut, vixen, womanly, lady, and prude carry such powerful overtones for women in modern culture.

Male Competition and Selectivity

While men do compete for desirability with other men, we are not nearly as competitive with our own gender to be generally attractive as are women. Male competition usually occurs in the form of jealousy over an individual woman who has attracted more than one suitor who values her. More often, though, the part that men play in courtship is selectivity. When a woman offers an invitation, the man has the choice to act on it, to wait for a better offer from that woman, or to move on to the next woman. This is why we tend to gauge a man’s desirability upon the number of female options he has (even illicit) and/or his power of selective restraint. While envisioning a woman having sex with whomever she chooses usually results in a negative image for her, saying that a man can ‘have any woman he wants’ is usually viewed as a strong compliment in modern culture.

The Upheaval of Free Sex and Pornography

I recently read an article in which the male author basically blames women for the decline of romantic chivalry by giving out free sex and not making men work for it. He defends male laziness by simply stating that men will only do the minimum necessary to get what they want from women. While I appreciate the fact that he’s advocating the return of chivalry, the problem of its decline is far more complex than he presents it.

Why don’t women just buck up and make men be men? This may be the question of questions in this issue of free sex and pornography. I believe the answer is female competition. Unless all women decide to raise the standard, there will always be ‘options’ for men. In her recent interview with Vanity Fair, actress Jennifer Lawrence defends why she had uploaded nude photographs of herself that were recently stolen in the famous hack.

“I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

Jennifer Lawrence is a stunningly beautiful 24 year old woman who not only is attractive on many levels but who is exceptionally popular and successful on an international level. If there was one woman in today’s world who would have absolutely no reason to feel insecure and inadequate for her man’s attention, she’s it. Yet that’s exactly how pornography makes her feel! She felt that if she didn’t lower herself to that level, she wasn’t competitive enough to keep her boyfriend’s attention. If even a few women refuse to raise that standard, the others will eventually lower theirs in order to compete, and a universal chain reaction happens in which all women will either feel the need to be sucked into the loop or suffer exclusion from competition. And since there will always be those few women who care more about sexual liberty and empowerment than their social image, this will always be the case. Men, on the other hand, usually select whatever is easiest, lowering their standards and throwing fuel on the fire. It’s a very unfortunate situation that has taken something so exciting and wonderful as courtship and dating and turned it into an endless decline of corruption and decay.

My Response

As a single man in a technologically advanced culture, I’ve been exposed to rampant sexualization for years. It got to me more when I was younger, but when I faced those struggles, I didn’t follow the usual path that is taught in Christian churches, things like turning away from temptation, etc. Instead, I turned to God directly, just Him and me. He taught me – rather, He reformed me – in a way that has not only worked but has enlightened me to things about women that I would never have known otherwise. He taught me to understand women and how to appreciate them for the wonderful creatures they are. Women are very sexual creatures, and research has shown that they think about sex and sexuality as much or more than men do. To view women as non-sexual is to view them incompletely. On the other hand, to view them as only sexual is to objectify them and deny their personality and character. Once I understood that, pornography not only lost its effect on me, but it became repulsive to me. It’s entirely one-dimensional. As I am now, I am fascinated with women – real women. Even if it isn’t sexual, one moment with a real woman, looking into her eyes, feeling the warmth of her hand in mine… there is nothing synthetic that can compare. Trust me. So I have some final statements for both men and women.

To the girls…

I’ve observed and interacted with a number of women in my life, and I understand that a woman in today’s sexualized culture is faced with overwhelming demands when it comes to what you’re supposed to be.

To those of you who contribute to sexualization, I know that most of you do so only because you feel you need to, just as Jennifer Lawrence did. You feel that the person you are isn’t beautiful or desirable enough to catch “his” attention. And to be perfectly honest, that will often be the case. That guy that every girl in high school dreams about will probably not notice you unless you make it easy for him. That stud at work who’s the life of the Friday night parties will probably look right past you to the one who just throws herself in his lap. But trust me, there are men who will notice you. Good men who will love and cherish you as a person. There won’t be nearly as many of those men around, but be patient and vigilant. It’ll be worth it.

To those of you who feel excluded because you refuse to give in to the sexualized culture, remember to keep hope. Don’t let sexual corruption make you ashamed of your own sexuality. Remember, it’s a large part of who you are. You don’t have to be a porn star to be comfortable and mature in your sexuality. Don’t be discouraged by the men who turn out to be skirt chasers. I know they can break your heart and make you feel like you’ll forever be alone, but be encouraged. The world is a big place. Remember that even though genuine men are becoming increasingly rare, they are still out there searching for a woman like you.

To all of you, I know it sounds cliche, but be yourself. You are a beautiful, unique individual that cannot be replaced or substituted. Competition to be seen may be in your nature, but competition to conform to a certain type isn’t. You are beautiful and desirable for the person you are, and the more confident you become in your own beauty, the more beautiful and noticeable you become to us guys. And at some point in the relationship when you start wanting to add some sexiness, don’t do like Jennifer Lawrence and do it because you think you have to or because your man wants you to. Do it because you want to and because you want to feel sexy for your man. Now, get out in a quality atmosphere where decent guys hang out so they can find you!

To the guys…

Whether you struggle with synthetic sexuality like porn or not, I’m not going to give the spiel on turning away from porn and purifying your souls. I want you to just forget about it for a moment, to just make it of no importance so that you can do a simple challenge for me. So here’s the challenge…
– Find you a girl, any girl who you’re close to will work, whether she’s a family member, a friend, a coworker, a crush, or whatever, as long as she doesn’t mind working with you on this.
– Now, sit her in front of you, and just look at her (staring or ogling is not implied haha). Look into her eyes, and watch how she responds. Maybe she’s embarrassed and looks away. Maybe she laughs and says its awkward. However she responds, just dwell on her reaction. She, as a real person, reacted to you. Just think about that for a moment. She’s a real person with real feelings, and she’s reacting to you.
– Now tell her that she’s beautiful. Did she smile? Did she tear up? Did she lean forward and give you a hug? Maybe she’s never been told that she’s beautiful before, and you had the honor of giving her that first experience. Maybe you shared something special with her, something that she will carry with her for a long time, if not the rest of her life. Maybe [fill in the blank]… Maybe [fill in the blank]… Maybe [fill in the blank]… She’s a beautiful, unique world waiting to be explored, to be loved, to be cherished. She has dreams, desires, strengths, insecurities, fears, and weaknesses, she has friends, family, people who love her and care about her… She is a real, living person.
– Now think again about all of this while you gaze at her, and think about how it makes you feel inside, even though you haven’t made any sexual advances toward her at all. At some point when a woman comes into your life who wants to share her sexuality with you, consider it an honor, a privilege to know her in that special way in addition to knowing her as a person.

Sure, objectified female bodies are awesome and stimulating to look at. But if you do this challenge, you’ll understand why I say that pornography is so one-dimensional. You’ll understand why I say that porn can never compare to even a moment’s gaze into a real woman’s eyes.

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