New Generation Relationships and Sex Education
The Greeks had six different types of love. Eros referred to sexual or passionate love, phillia was friendship love, agape was universal love, ludus was uncommitted love, pragma was a type of long-term, practical love, and philautia was self-love. As we’ve noted in the last post, love is very complicated but it is not at all aided when it is understood under one word. And to complicate matters further, the media conceptualises love as romantic comedies and songs. This blog is going to redefine how we understand love, sex, and relationships, through the Greek concepts of ludus, pragma, agape and philautia.
Sexual desire (Ludus):
Sex is everywhere nowadays. We see it on the television, we see it on our social media, and we unconsciously think about it all the time. While parents will do their very best to restrict it, it is unfortunately unavoidable. Therefore, the best thing we can do is educate correctly. But where do we start? Well there is unfortunately a strong disconnect between what sex actually is and what young people think sex is. We are not experts on sex but we are on emotions so we can explain that sex is driven by the emotion of sexual desire, which is similar but very different from the emotion of romantic love. Romantic love cannot exist without sexual desire but sexual desire can very much exist without romantic love. The complication of romantic love, as discussed last week, is that love is an emotion, but it is also a long-term state, and a need. Alternatively, people will often argue that sexual desire is a need, just like hunger or thirst but it’s not. We do not need sexual desire in order to survive. Of course, we often want to have sex but because of how society has changed, we can survive without it.
The complication with the emotion of sexual desire is its entanglement with imagination. It too is subject to an unattainable state whereby people are often left disappointed with their sexual experiences because their expectations were in line with pornography and society’s image of sex. When people are constantly exposed to these expectations, they are left with negative emotions such as disappointment and sadness and they make others feel negative emotions. But these expectations are unattainable. It is the fire festival: expectation vs reality.
Adolescence is a very strange time because with hormonal changes comes the development of the emotion of sexual desire. With this comes the discovery of masturbation and greater exposure to porn and sex. Sexual desire is our brain telling us to have sex. But of course, we are no longer animals now and we have developed self-control. Remember the blog on delay of gratification and the marshmallow experiment? Well the exact same applies here. The person who is able to delay the gratification of sexual desire will end off better. So this is not to say that we permanently repress our sexual desire. We at Motus are advocates of expressing our emotions. We are just saying that the desire will only be met when it is with the right person and when it makes both you and the other person involved feel positive emotions.
Consent is always a delicate topic and it is currently a popular subject because its regular reoccurrence with low conviction rates. It is figuratively an injustice. But again, telling young boys not to take advantage of girls is not going to stop them in certain situations. Instead, we have to educate them on the process of how rape happens and this starts with the activities that happen in their brains. Firstly, the differentiation of sexual desire as an emotion rather than a need is really important. People will carry out needs because they think they cannot live without it, but they can live without acting on an emotion. Furthermore, emotions pass so if we can show an awareness of them and then use strategies to not act on them, it's easier to manage the sexual desire. We then need to teach young boys about empathy and social skills. Always remind them that we should not do something that makes others feel negative emotions, such as awkwardness, worry, or fear. The significance of this value is inexhaustible. *Disclaimer of controversy here*. Another issue with consent is that some girls misinterpret their shame of having sex with someone as not consenting. You will very rarely hear of a guy having sex with someone, regretting it the morning after, and then flipping this regret as an accusation of rape. So girls need to be as educated just as much as boys on consent. From the girl's perspective, this can be prevented by educating them on their sexual interest development. This peaks later for girls than boys. Therefore, boys should know that girls should never be pushed to have sex because they might not have the same feelings, but girls should be aware that having sex at a young age might be a result of peer pressure rather than actually wanting to have sex, which can result in negative emotions.
Both parties are responsible for making the decision of a sexual encounter before AND after. We need to educate boys on taking responsibility before the sexual encounter happens and we need to educate girls on taking responsibility after the encounter. If we can teach young boys that having a sexual attraction to someone does not mean we have to act on it and if we can teach young girls about taking responsibility for their actions, far more problems could be prevented.
Long-term love (pragma):
Psychological sexual disorders can develop as a result of people associating sexual pleasure with certain events or objects. For example, people can develop strange fetishes, they can assume pleasure off rubbing off others (frotteurism), or off watching others (voyeurism). A major factor of this is porn. Porn objectifies women as objects that are used for sex and it creates unrealistic expectations of what sex is. It teaches people to associate the sexual pleasure of masturbation with certain forms of sex and this can be incredibly dangerous, not only in relation to future sexual encounters but also in how boys view women in everyday interactions. For older generations, dating apps such as Tinder have also placed fuel on this fire, as people are now essentially swipes on the basis of their looks. And finally, it has created love and sexual desire as completely separate entities, even though we know this is not the case. A study by Dorothy Tennov found that people prefer sex with someone they love. But yet we still engage in it regardless. This can be corrected if we can teach our future generations to associate sex with romantic love as a standard rather than an act that can be unfortunately bought and watched in today’s world. We then try to prevent porn as much as possible, which is something that needs to be shared between schools and parents. And we then need to change young peoples’ perspectives on the main element attached to sexual desire: aesthetic appreciation.
Aesthetic appreciation (agape):
Aesthetic appreciation refers to the admiration of beauty. While it is extremely difficult to explain what determines beauty, philosophers have posited that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which means it differs from person to person. However, this reasoning meant that beauty could not be measured and that was a problem in relation to social order and the society of consumption. Of course, some ideas of beauty are evolutionary on the basis of reproduction, such as wide hips (higher chance of successful birth) for females, muscular bodies (better mate) for men and bilateral symmetry for both. But for the most part, society has slowly created a consistent idea of what beauty is. Thin. Muscular. Perfect. You know what I’m talking about. We see it everyday. And I am sure you’re aware that this has a detrimental effect on one’s mental health because it creates an unattainable ideal selves (earlier blog post). But it doesn’t only create an unattainable ideal self. It also changes the way people value themselves. Rather than peoples’ values being based on how they see themselves, they are now allowing their value to be based on how other people see them. This can be seen through the fad of selfies. Notice that a selfie is a picture taken in the way that other people would see you. It is you looking at yourself, as if you were another person, or worse again, an object to be judged. And of course, you can never please everyone else, so your self worth is destined to be low. Think of all the photos that have been deleted because of low amounts of likes. A study by Dove found that only 4% of women see themselves as beautiful. If we can teach future generations that beauty is something that has been created by society, then they can stop attaining to it.
To prevent this, we need to remind ourselves that attractiveness is subjective. One person might admire a man with a strong beard, while another might find beards repulsive. One person might adore blond hair, while another will prefer red. So why do we try so hard to look a certain way? I experienced this as a teenager first hand when I heard my friends say that a girl they clearly fancied was not good looking. Why? Because it’s only cool to like what society sees as good looking. But if you think about it, it’s really fucking strange. So always remember that just because society sees something as good, doesn’t mean that the guy you fancy on the tube does too. Beauty is subjective. This is why something you see as a blob of paint sells as a piece of art for millions.
There are several arguments that sexuality is on a continuum, meaning that people are generally attracted to other humans, regardless of sex or gender. The ones who will immediately deny this are the ones who are more likely to be homophobic. If we again apply emotional knowledge to this circumstance, we can normalise both people coming out, and people experiencing confusing emotions. As we get older, we develop certain emotions, which are strong feelings to certain situations. This means that society has a role to play in how these emotions are understood. This is why we feel envious when we see the mega wealthy, or why we feel shame when we break rules. And the exact same applies to a feeling of desire towards certain people who we find attractive. This is also the emotion of aesthetic appreciation. And this debunks the repressed feelings that young boys often try to push away when they get a strange feeling of attraction towards someone of the same sex, when they are in fact not gay. Society plagues us with what it is to be physically attractive, regardless of if you are male or female. This matters because young men are still reacting negatively to a sensation they experience when they see Zak Efron. They tell themselves that they are not attracted to men and this emotion of aesthetic appreciation turns to anger, which can then often be directed at homosexuals. If teenagers are told that it is ok to find the same sex aesthetically attractive, it reduces the need of repression and it reduces the stigma around homosexuality.
Self Love (Philutia):
There is unfortunately a terrible unfolding happening whereby people think that love is having pleasurable sex with someone and having pleasurable sex with someone is determined by how good looking the person is. The result of this is people thinking that you can only love somebody if they’re good looking. This deadly process promotes the idea of needing to be good looking (whatever that means) to be loved, which is ridiculous. If this isn’t corrected, then people will never be able to love themselves. If we can teach our future generations that aesthetic appreciation is subjective, and that sexual desire is different from love, but an important aspect of it, we could see relationships and sexual education making a huge difference. Of course, the many types of love are all closely related but by understanding them, we stand a better chance of developing philutia, and from there, it’s easier to develop the rest.
Of course, nobody fully understands the meaning of love. But we have enough knowledge to now begin categorising love and similar emotions. We are not promoting that next time you have a piece of chocolate, you have to say you have a strong adoration towards chocolate or to delete your Instagram account. But we are saying that how we understand our emotions has an impact on our mental health. It can make us realise that that person doesn’t have to love us back because we have strong feelings for them, that wanting to have sex with someone and pushing them to have sex with you are two very different things, and that self-love should never be measured by others. If we can teach our teenagers this, future generations’ understanding of love will have far more positive impact on their mental health and we can truly understand how to love.
All our adoration, The Motus Movement.