I initially started reading on the subject because I was struggling with my own dating life, my emotions, and life in general. Needless to say, it has been an eye opening emotional and intellectual journey: delving into ideas ranging from Freud to Darwin, figuring out masculinity, what it means to be a man, trying to find ideas that fit into reality.
Having sex before a committed relationship, much less a marriage, is a huge taboo in a traditional Asian society. If you had sex with a girl, it means you love that girl. If a girl loves you, she must have sex with you. Those were the beliefs the majority had in mind. Those beliefs never sat right with me, those beliefs hurt my own dating and relationships life to a huge extent. Those are cultural narratives.
School didn’t exactly do a good job of addressing these issues either.
Sex education in school is often filled with cliché advice that guys poke at each about during recess hours. The information isn’t really taken into serious consideration.
The advice dished out to me normally consisted of the superficial such as: ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’ ‘You got to wear condoms.’
We were mostly lectured by some middle age school counsellor who was completely out of touch with the emotional realities of teenagers or young adults. They never really peered into, or addressed, the psychology of teenagers and students. There was the rare case where not all of the education was completely bad. It was a lecture where they taught how to put on a condom to a mixed lecture hall with both girls and guys. That lecture was the nearest to a mature and open discussion about sex and intimacy.
It’s these lack of honest conversations about sex and intimacy that lead to something hugely unaddressed in our modern culture. That is: pornography.
There’s a lot of research on how pornography paints an unrealistic expectation of sex.
In my personal experience, that’s true. I started watching hardcore pornography from an early age to stem my insecurities and anxieties about academics and life in general. For a long period of time, it ruined my day to day perspective on women. It was only when I progressively cut down that I felt more engaged with others and more attuned to the slight details, such as the light blemishes on a lady’s face along with feeling a lot more productive at work.
Another factor is how masculinity is perceived in modern culture that isn’t addressed.
You’re supposed to be the guy that is ‘tough’ in any circumstance. You’re not supposed to show any emotion. The MAJORITY of the advice out there tells you to ‘just man the fuck up’ when the shit hits the fan. How many times have you heard the advice ‘face it like a man’ when you just got out of a disastrous relationship?
Well, the way to deal with a really difficult break up, which is a loss in life, is to grieve over it. I know, it’s easy to think: ‘I’ll just deal with it and move on.’ However, our minds don’t work that way. Psychological research shows there’s actually a necessary process that you go through when you lose someone important in your life.
I don’t think Asian families talk openly about sex, intimacy, and relationships enough.
We were brought up to think good grades equal a good job, a good job equals nice girlfriend, a good girl friend or wife equals success in life. You were brought to be ‘useful’ to society. You had to excel in anything you laid your hands on, rejection and failure meant death. There’s heaps of shame in a failed relationship or marriage. It’s not as if our peers are helping either. When I was 15 or so, I got rejected in front of my class when I proposed to a girl in a class with a flower. I knew I was being courageous and took a risk no one would take. However, most of my friends merely laughed at me, and I never did the same again.
You grow up thinking ‘the one’ is something that will happen to you and not something you constantly go out and work on. Dating and relationships are something you can take control of, when it comes to long term committed relationships, it’s something you can be aware of.
There are going to be personality traits about someone who turns you on and turns you off. There are going to be lifestyle differences that no matter how much you feel for each other; it’s going to end up in disaster.
Research shows that opposite personality traits can actually be complimentary to each other. The fact that I was more laid back fit right in with my ex girlfriend who was a high achieving law student. However, she wanted different things than I did at that point in our lives. No matter how much chemistry we felt about each other, the relationship was doomed to fail.
The point is understanding what works for you, and being realistic about our expectations when it comes to love.
I lost my virginity at a pretty young age for an Asian culture.
However, I was responsible and always used projection. Sex in itself shouldn’t be seen as a huge deal.
It was just two human beings who had desires when they were teenagers. It isn’t something I hold on to like a badge of honor, or something I regret. You shouldn’t either. It was something that just happened to two teenagers who were curious and smitten with each other.
The healthy ingredients of a relationship shouldn’t be focused on each other’s achievements, social status, or about the earth shattering sex. A healthy relationship should be ultimately based on values and unconditional. If her achievements as a top performing law student is all I care about, then I don’t actually care about her. If both of us sacrificed values such as empathy, trust, and respect just because we’re smitten with each other, then there’s really no relationship at all.
Ultimately, sex, love and intimacy aren’t something you can earn or objectify yourself into. This includes arranged marriages or viewing relationships as something that you tick off the box in life.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work out that way. I don’t think love and intimacy are something you can plan for either. It’s something experienced in the moment. After all, love is said to be blind. Fall in love and have as much sex as you want. The key is to do it openly, honestly, consciously, and with responsibility. That’s the definition of an actual relationship.
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