RELATIONSHIPS, INTIMACY AND SEX


Sex is “The character or condition of being male or female”
All creatures in the animal world have a sexual character. There are male, female or hermaphrodite sexes. Male is the sex of a man, female is that of a woman, and hermaphrodite refers to those with a combination of both male and female.

Sexuality is the condition of being distinguished by sex. A woman for instance has distinct and distinguishing attributes, which identify her as being female. We can as a result of these distinguishing signs identify a person as being male or female. These distinguishing signs are visible in the physical appearance of animals and humans.

Sexual relates to sex or the sexes as in sexual relations or sexual behaviour. Sexual behaviour can lead to the physical act of sex, or sexual intercourse. Intercourse was intended for the purpose of procreation or the creation of new life. It is during the act of sexual intercourse that the male sperm combines with the female egg and a new baby can be created.
Sexual relations can occur between same sex individuals. These people are referred to as homosexual or gay. Being homosexual is the right of an individual. While we may not condone this form of relationship it is not our right to judge such people. They have the right of choice.

Relationships and intimacy

In the world of animals the act of intercourse is an instinctive act. It happens without feelings or conscious intent. The male inserts his sperm into the female species without any love relationship. It is an instinctive act, it happens by impulse when the female stimulates the male and he reacts to the stimuli. Animals do not spend time forming friendships, getting to know each other, conversing or learning to understand each other.

Human beings, during the early stages of a relationship, spend time getting to know each other. During this time strong emotions are felt that lead to personal disclosure. The couple, usually male and female speak about themselves, their feelings and aspirations. After they get to know each other well, the feelings will be of closeness, friendship, warmth and caring. There will be very definite sexual feelings and of intimacy and closeness.

For intimacy to flourish there must be understanding, openness and support. The couple should feel they could talk about anything without fear of rejection. It is a time of open communication. As intimacy develops they will find they share some common values and beliefs about life. There will be differences of opinion as well. This is all part of the growth and learning process. They are beginning to feel love for each other but they are not “in love”.

They have feelings of closeness and intimacy based on liking, friendship and trust. These feelings of closeness result from being able to share very deep and personal thoughts and feelings with a partner. Intimacy will now develop to its fullest, if they are able to forgive and to show compassion and kindness toward each other, especially when they disagree or make mistakes. Mutual respect and trust are essential to this process.

In order to have an intimate relationship with another person there must be trust, communication, closeness and a feeling of empathy and understanding between the partners. There must be respect.

Foreplay may lead to having sex

Once the relationship has developed to the extent where the physical act of having sex is likely, it is all the more important to develop the trust relationship. Intimacy starts with trust. Little actions of affection like kissing, touching, cuddling and exploring are likely at this stage. These actions of affection in sexual activity are referred to as foreplay. The purpose of foreplay is to prepare the body for possible penile penetration.

It is essential to remember that foreplay does not mean that penetration has to take place. The act of making love or having sex must be by mutual agreement.

The basis for any relationship, be it a friendship or romance, is communication and trust. The more partners feel safe enough to share their fears, desires, joys and concerns, the more they will trust each other. The basis of emotional intimacy is trust.

Freedom of choice

The difference between man and animal is that man has freedom of choice. We have the right to choose between what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong. An animal does not differentiate between right and wrong. They do not think and feel like we do. Animals act by instinct rather than choice. Man on the other hand will respond instinctively to specific situations but in doing so will make rational choices.

Choice indicates “a right to act and the power to choose”. Choice is “the act of choosing”. This indicates that we have a right to choose between two or more situations or things. Choosing can be defined as “selecting from all that are available”, “making decisions”, “acting as seen fit” or “to act on preference”.

These indicate, the power to choose rests with the individual. The person has the right to make an informed decision based on knowledge and experience. Consequently making informed decisions requires acting with responsibility. With responsibility comes accountability.

Consider the choices you make every day. Do you make them or do others make them for you? You come to a red traffic light and you make a decision to stop. You decide to have sex with or without a condom. These are examples of personal choices you make. You could have decided differently. You decide freely based on morals, from a sense of responsibility, based on personal values, or from a sense of maturity. Once the choice is made you are responsible for that choice and you are accountable for your actions and the outcome of those actions.

Responsibility and maturity

Responsible is defined as “being capable of rational conduct” or “morally accountable for actions”. Accepting responsibility therefore indicates that a person accepts they are morally accountable for their actions.

If a person breaks the law, that person is accountable for the action taken. To act freely without accepting responsibility can be disastrous for society in general. Irresponsible behaviour can have serious consequences. To put a date rape drug in another persons drink is particularly irresponsible. It may seem like fun at the time but consider the consequences of the action. To force a woman to have sex without her total agreement, to rape her, is unforgivable and reprehensible.

Consider the need for responsibility where sex and sexual activity is concerned. Both parties carry an equal share of the responsibility. When the petting and foreplay gets heavy and the woman or girl says that’s far enough. Listen to her. STOP. Now is the time for responsibility and maturity,

Physical maturity is indicated and visible, as we get older. We go through the various stages of puberty and our bodies start developing to the state of adulthood. We grow hair, develop breasts, experience ejaculation, girls have periods and so on. Relationships feel different and there are specific feelings of a sexual nature that we had not experienced before. We are growing up and becoming mature. All of the exterior manifestations of maturity are quite natural. We have no control over the onset of puberty or the associated biological responses.

This is a period in life when there is temptation and a need to experiment. This is a time for developing mental maturity also. This does not happen naturally, it needs to be learned and developed.

Relationships develop and feelings of love, lust and desire set in. What is important is how we learn to deal with these feelings. Now is the time to demonstrate maturity and responsibility, and above all to show respect for the rights of others.

Understanding sexual needs

The needs of a man and woman vary as they go through life. The initial need is for self-gratification. There are ways of satisfying this need without the involvement of another party. Involving another person for self-gratification only is a selfish act and indicates a lack of maturity and responsibility.

The need for self-gratification normally develops into the need for a more lasting relationship that ultimately leads to marriage or a permanent monogamous relationship. Marriage is monogamous i.e. one man and one woman at a time. In some cultures, this is not the case. This is a matter of choice based on cultural practice. We should therefore not condemn the practice; we should rather try to understand it.

A marriage relationship may eventually become stale for some reason and the man or woman may decide to have an affair or to seek sexual gratification outside of the marriage relationship. This form of gratification has consequences that are both positive and negative for the individuals concerned. There are reasons why a marriage relationship can end up this way and it is important that we do not judge but rather try to establish the reasons and to understand them.

In this context we can consider sex within a “closed relationship” or within the marriage relationship as opposed to sex in an “open relationship” or an extra marital affair.

The personal risks involved

HIV/ AIDS is an “equal opportunities” disease. It is a killer disease. Some people are at higher risk of getting AIDS than others. This has nothing to do with colour, creed or sexual preference. It affects everyone – men, women and children.

High-risk behaviours for anyone include unprotected sex and sharing needles when using intravenous drugs can lead to HIV/AIDS. Having sex with a sex worker or prostitute is obviously a high-risk activity, but so too is having sex with the very religious, church-going lady next door.

People who are too scared to ask their partner to wear a condom are putting their lives at risk, as are people who have unprotected sex with anyone from the high-risk groups. Sex with multiple partners, sex without using a condom, anal sex, sex with someone who has had multiple partners and sex with partners who have had sexually transmitted illnesses are examples of high risk relationships.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you “don’t fit the profile”. There is no profile. There is only safe behaviour, and there is HIV/AIDS. The choice is yours.

Abstaining from Sex

A survey recently conducted in all 9 provinces, by the Medical Research Council in association with the departments of health and education, confirmed that 41% of teenagers as young as 14 had sexual relations. Not only have they had sex, 71% have had sex with multiple partners. This is a shocking fact and a very poor reflection on society, schooling, individuals and parents.

Other teenagers had forced 10% of their peers into having sex. This of course is totally unacceptable and is indicative of the society in which we live. What is of great concern is the remaining 90% had sex voluntarily.

The survey shows 29% of teens are practicing safe sex, an increase from 4% in 1994. This may well indicate the remaining 71% are not concerned with HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, STI’s or dying. If already HIV positive they do not seem concerned enough to protect their partner, male or female. Is it thoughtlessness, complacency or just an attitude of “I do not care”?
When these statistics and the department of health’s approach to condoms were discussed with the minister of health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, her response was “What would excite me would be if teenagers did not engage in sex and therefore did not need condoms. One should rather talk to them about abstinence.”

Was the minister right? Should 13 and 14-year-old children be having sex?

Not under any circumstances. Sure, sex is great. It is a gift given to us for our enjoyment and pleasure. It is also intended for loving couples to procreate children. It is not to be abused, misused and is not a game. Sex is very serious business.

Sex is a natural part of growing up and sexual urges commence at a young age. We have no control over the onset of puberty and the resulting sexual urges we feel. We do have control over how we respond physically and mentally to these urges.
Choice plays a very important role when we have to make decisions regarding our sexual urges, particularly when considered in the light of HIV/AIDS.

When a person is capable of having sex does this mean the person should have sex each and every time they feel like it?

How important is this to you? What value do you place on this gift?

Sex and sexuality is an integral part of the human make-up. It involves your body. What value do you place on your body and your sexuality?
Are your body, your sex organs and your sexuality for experimentation purposes or are they for sharing with someone you have a meaningful, loving and lasting relationship with?

These are questions every teenager, in fact every unmarried and married adult must ask themselves. The final decision comes down to attitude, values, morals and respect for self and others. Teenagers having sex should not be happening, certainly not on the present scale.

Copyright – Des Squire – 082 800 9057 – dsquire@mweb.co.za

OTHER MANUALS AND ARTICLES WRITTEN BY DES AND AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE INCLUDE

The stages of HIV and workplace policies
Life, Love, relationships and HIV/AIDS
A handbook for managers
Management and absenteeism
HIV/AIDS – It’s your problem too
Everyone’s guide to HIV and Aids
HIV and Aids in the workplace
The Way forward – a guide to life and the world of work
HIV/AIDS – the future is in your hands
School is over – what now?
Conversations with life – a guide to an effective life style

Multiple copies and/or reproduction rights can be discussed with me. Manuals can be customised to include your company logo etc
I have a large number of training manuals also available on a variety of subject matter.
Should you have a need for specific articles, assistance with newsletters etc please contact me directly.

Des Squire – 082 800 9057 – dsquire@amsi.co.za

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