I remember being in the 8th grade in our middle school locker room getting ready for PE and after a round of jokes my best friend pointing out how big my, eh you know, chest had grown. I mean, we’d noticed all the developments of the guys and girls around us; the guys shoulders were beginning to broaden, their abs beginning to form as they took off their shirts to play basketball and the girls were beginning to fill out curvaceously with their tight pants and midriffs. Everyone was bursting into all shapes and forms of sexuality and now my breakthrough was coming.
I can’t lie, there was a small stirring within me about my sudden emergence into womanhood. My desires of physical intimacy were birthing, my confidence was growing and before I knew it I was becoming a whole new person than the bouncing girl I once was. And it wasn’t long before guys started to notice me….or that I noticed them noticing me. It was a different type of notice than, hey we have the same class! No, they wanted me and they wanted me boldly. They desired me- this young woman I was becoming. I was beginning to feel assured in ways I hadn’t. And with all these newfound changes I slowly but surely found myself simply going with the flow in this world of sexuality.
Let’s talk about the psychology of Adolescent Sexuality.
The truth is that adolescents are actually very little aware of the rapid changes taking place in their body. It just happens. If I were to be honest, I never actually processed what was happening. The changes in my body came upon me quickly and by time they did the combination of the world, media and my peers had already influentially conditioned me on what I should do with these changes. The culture of this influence would lead me to believe that these bodily changes are meant to attract guys and become more desirable; almost to define my “market value” in the “fishing pool”.
It’s called the Sexual Script.
The sexual script is the stereotypic pattern that defines how we should behave sexually. According to who? According to the culture really- media, music, magazines and TV which becomes reaffirmed to us by our watching peers. And all this indoctrinates a cultural belief system and standard telling us “the way to be”. Typically girls will begin to link sex with love and for guys it becomes a sexual conquest.
Houston, we have a problem.
When following the sexual script of this culture we soon realize that guys and girls are reading from two different books. Even into adulthood this causes a lot of confusion, frustration and contradiction between us and our motives as males and females.
For a woman, when it comes to sex, the quality and depth of the relationship is an important factor. Some might deny that, but she may even try to replace a deeper longing for love with sex in pursuit of a desire for intimacy. Girls typically prefer to wait until an emotional commitment and intimacy has been developed to have sex.
For a man, typically when it comes to sex, it’s usually an experience to be explored and mastered in pursuit of establishing their “manhood” or achieving a social status. If not they might be labelled negatively. And sometimes it’s just to relieve the sexual tension of their testosterone being in fifth gear. Guys generally expect sex sooner in the relationship and there doesn’t necessarily have to be an emotional commitment at all.
Because the “script” is different for girls than guys this discrepancy can cause problems, confusion, heartbreak, etc, especially among teens who aren’t mature enough to assess this because they’re trying to navigate from right in the middle of it. This is just one reason why it’s best to wait until both people are mature and committed enough to mentally be on the same page. And the biggest safety of this is within marriage.
Our bodies are ready, but our minds are not.
That’s a tough contradiction to navigate. Here we are as teenagers, our bodies are not only mature enough to have sex and reproduce like an adult but we have all the overwhelming desires that come with it. So we begin to define our maturity by our bodies rather than our young minds and take it upon ourselves to “do what grown-ups do”. I mean, why not? According to the sexual script that’s what our body is for, right? To have sex with whoever we want, when we want because we feel like it!
But it all leads to fractured hearts, broken souls, damaged worth and low standards. When we continue to have sex with person after person our bodies continually experience exploitation, rejection and devalue while our minds battle with guilt, confusion, insecurity and frustration. And many times we choose to suppress these things in the name of pleasure or fitting into the sexual script of this world. The question really is, what do we profit at the loss of our souls? We’re not mentally or emotionally mature enough to navigate the psychologies that come with acting on our sexual development, especially since this is also the crucial time we’re in the midst of identity searching.
Mature love understands the purpose of sexuality.
What is mature love? Well, mature love commits to your life. It’s not temporary, fleeting and it doesn’t play games. It has purpose. And again, there is really no place like this as within the safety and security of marriage. It’s not acting out of codependency or the insecure needs to be desired. It’s when two people are mature enough to take each other’s lives seriously and can communicate intentionally enough to be on the same page mentally. They are mature enough to commit to the ultimate well-being of one another physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s when you understand not only yourself, but the purpose of your sexuality as an expression of a stable, healthy love rather than an emotional void to act on sporadically. Characteristics that take maturing well out of the teenage years and a candle that doesn’t spark even for many adults.
When we lose sight of this and begin to compromise ourselves over and over again, it’s not long before we lose site of the healthy love we were created for, of what we ultimately deserve and of what we’re worth even when we’re sabotaging our own value in the names of independence and pleasure.
I believe in our adolescent stage we need to be openly and candidly walked through these sexual changes, learning better self-awareness of our thoughts, feelings and emotions and the dangers of abusing these changes. If they don’t learn from us they will naturally, by default, fall into the sexual script of this world.
Did you experience any of the above in your sexual emergence into adolescence? Are you a parent talking to your teenagers about sex- how is that going? I’d love to hear from you!