Relationships are complex and can be complicated by a longing for a lasting commitment. For this reason, many have opted to simply have sex without any type of commitment (sex with no strings attached). Others hold the belief that sex is a pledge to be committed. The purpose of this discussion is to explain why sex must involve commitment. We will also present the opposing opinion on this issue. This discussion will seek to prove that sex should involve commitment. We will begin the discussion with the opposing view.
Sex without Commitment
Some individuals have the belief that sex without commitment is acceptable and that it will not have adverse affects. They contend that sex without commitment is easier for everyone involved and averts problems that can occur in a committed relationship. Sex without commitment has always existed in some form or another but in recent years, sex without commitment has become a growing trend.
Definition of Sex from a noncommittal point-of-view and Differences between men and women
To understand this belief system we must understand how people with this view define sex. For them sex is a physical/biological act or a need that must be gratified. Many would argue that most of the people that believe in sex without commitment are men. There is evidence that this belief is well founded. According to a book entitled "What Women Want-What Men Want: Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently" men and women have very different sexual needs. The book documents the experience of a 24-year-old woman and her sexual experiences. The woman explains that she has had sexual intercourse with 24 men in the last five years. She asserts that the men she has dated do not want a commitment and only want to engage in sex. She explains, 'Joan cannot understand why men apparently do not need the same things she needs in order to enjoy sexual relations. She wants sexual intercourse to be part of a relationship that includes affection, caring, verbal intimacy, and sexual fidelity. Her partners, on the other hand, appear to enjoy intercourse for its own sake, without these accompaniments. They also enjoy having intercourse with a variety of partners and expend a great deal of effort to do so. These male desires are so foreign to her that they are incomprehensible ... Traditionally, compared to men, women have desired more cuddling, verbal intimacy, expressions of affection, and foreplay and afterplay in order to enjoy sexual relations (Townsend)."
The book goes on to explain that the Kinsey study suggests that males and females do have very different sex drives. According to the Kinsey report, women can go long periods with very little or no sexual activity. On the other hand, men have constant sexual thoughts. The book asserts that men are frequently aroused by a larger range of stimuli than women are. The author contends that men are aroused by seeing a potential partner.
These facts illustrate that men are more likely to want to have sex without a commitment; however, many women opt for noncommittal sex. (Buss) This trend has grown as women have enjoyed more liberties and the same financial status that was once only available to men. This type of financial independence is a good thing and allows women to realize their full potential. However, it has also contributed to a breakdown in the relationship between men and women and their attitudes toward sex.
A book on issues of feminism and sexual philosophy asserts that noncommittal sex is a form of freedom. The book explains that sex is a form of expression that can be noncommittal if both parties so desire. (Defries) The book also explains that noncommittal sex and promiscuity can be used interchangeably.
"Promiscuity asserts a freedom from the obligation within or without marriage to 'love, honor, and obey' and a freedom to engage in sex with any peer who agrees. These refusals to issue promissory notes for affection and support throughout an indefinite future and to issue a guarantee of sexual exclusivity are promiscuity's most significant departures from the traditional sexual norm." For many ... premarital sex is necessarily noncommittal sex since it lacks the requisite "promissory note" of sexual and emotional commitment that the traditional Judeo-Christian marriage offers (Lemoncheck)."
Sex with Commitment
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those that believe that sex should be engaged in when there is a commitment. The proponents of committal sex assert that sex without commitment causes a host of social, physical and emotional problems. The reason for much pf these beliefs are founded in traditional Judeo-Christian philosophies about sex and its purpose.
Definition of Sex from a Committal Point-of-view
Those that believe that sex should be committal argue that sex is more than just a physical/biological act. They assert that sex is a spiritual act that unites a man and woman, and should be taken seriously. The idea that sex is simply a need is shunned. Furthermore, many with this belief also assert only individuals who are legally married should engage in sex. (Matthewes-Green)
Adverse affects of noncommittal sex
Another reason why some believe that sex should be committal is the adverse effects of noncommittal sex. They assert that there are social, physical and emotional ramifications to noncommittal sex.(Matthewes-Green)
The social ramifications have to do with the stigma that is attached to people (mainly women) that engage in noncommittal and/or promiscuous sexual acts. In addition, noncommittal sex can lead to unwanted pregnancies, which increase the number of individuals that are dependent upon the welfare system. (Matthewes-Green) Unwanted pregnancies also increase the number of abortions that are performed and the overall being of our society is jeopardized when unwanted children are born to mothers that are immature and not ready to parent. (Matthewes-Green)
There are also serious physical ramifications of having sex without a commitment. Because of the nature of noncommittal sex, there is no accountability and someone can have sex with multiple partners. This type of behavior can lead to the transmission of infections. In extreme cases, it can lead to the spread of AIDS and other incurable infections such as herpes and human papilloma virus. Contracting a disease such as AIDS also has social ramifications and a lasting impact on everyone involved. Most notably AIDS has left an epidemic of orphans all over the world that are left to take care of themselves when one or both of their parents succumb to the disease. An article in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, explains the adverse affects of noncommittal sex explaining that although sexual freedom is still considered "confusedly as something that helps women own and enjoy their sexual feelings, the negative fallout has been hard to ignore: divorce, disease, abortion, illegitimacy, and multiplying heartbreak. Free sex made women feel free in the sense that you feel free falling from a twelve-story building: exposed, vulnerable, and headed for disaster (Matthewes-Green)."
If by chance, people are able to avoid the physical and social ramifications of noncommittal sex, there are still emotional ramifications. People engaged in noncommittal sexual activity often feel cheap and have difficult time in relationships with the opposite sex. In addition, they tend to have lower self-esteem and lack a sense of self-worth.
Positive impacts of committal sex
Sex and commitment are vitally important because they can promote the health and general well-being of an entire society. Individuals that are in monogamous relationships value one another and the importance of developing a relationship. Mature adults understand the importance of developing a relationship with their partner and attempting to understand all of their needs not just the sexual ones. Human beings are whole people, not just sexual beings. We have emotions and need to feel loved and supported whether we are male or female. When sex involves commitment there is an understanding that the whole person is being valued and not just the sexual part. So then, committal sex has the advantage of catering to the needs of the whole person therefore ensuring the affirmation and validation that is needed to feel loved and valued. This is another reason why sex should involve commitment.
In addition to catering to the needs of the entire person, committal sex and monogamous relationships are important when there are children involved. This is because children model the behavior of the adults in their lives. According to an article in the journal, Adolescence found that there is a link between promiscuity and incarcerated juvenile offenders. The study found that juveniles incarcerated were more likely to be promiscuous and teenage parents. (McLaughlin et al.) The article asserts
"Research has revealed a strong relationship between criminal offending and violent injuries (Howell, 1992; May et al., 1995; McGonigal et al., 1993; McLaughlin et al., 1996a; Redeker et al., 1995). In regard to the injured offender, studies indicate that violent victimization represents only one facet of a constellation of associated risks and consequences, including substance abuse, promiscuity,…