Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Casual Relations, Casual Sex, Casual Future

"It's the type of thing that I tend to get equal volumes of hate-mail and love-mail, so you know you struck a chord."
"I see modern women, so many of them who are realizing that cohabitation and casual sex is what's making them feel subordinate and desperate and losing their identity."
"I think this bill of goods that we've been sold as women -- that we should be having uncommitted sex, that we should be living together -- it's not working out for a lot of women."
"What I'm trying to do is get people to think about their life choice as women, and to see that these trends of casual sex, of cohabiting, these are pretty new in terms of dating norms. It has only been in the last 30 or 40 years that these have become commonplace, and I think it's a failed social experiment, frankly."
"I noticed such a profound difference between couples who had legally married and who had made that commitment. Even if that marriage fell apart, they worked a lot harder to try and keep it together -- they were in that commitment sort of head space."
"People who cohabit, especially boyfriend/girlfriend, they just don't have that same level of commitment."
"We're reclaiming and redefining what marriage is. I don't think it's moral or immoral to be married or not, but I do think that certain lifestyle choices are more likely to make you happy and more likely to produce long-term relationships and stable family units."
Debra Macleod, couples counsellor/relationship author, Alberta

It's fairly safe to assume that the rise of common-law relationships -- or 'cohabiting' as Debra Macleod, the author of "The Modest Minx" puts it -- responded to and gained currency from the rise of feminism, the authority of women who forged a world-wide movement to express their insistence that women be regarded as and treated as equal to men in all endeavours. The era of 'free love' rose alongside feminism and the liberal-left and the movement of social libertarianism.

Anything men could do, so could women, and sometimes better, though some feminists added that women had to work twice as hard as men to achieve a similar goal, threading their way through the maze of male domination to achieve female emancipation and empowerment. If men could enjoy casual sex, well then, why not women ... alongside challenging men in professions once delegated only to males, like engineering, orchestra conducting, construction employment and the trades.

the, biggest, regret, 20-something, women, have, about, their, sex, lives,

Living together as a loosely-committed couple meant men and women were progressive, forward-looking, confident enough in their status as man and woman to dispense with the usual social covenant-approval of religious- and/or state-sanctioned marriage. Rather than be twisted into legal knots by convention, men and women would be free to make their own choices; if they meant to remain together they would, if not, well the experiment of experience was the result.

Or should that rather be the experience of experiment. Trouble is, there's nothing usually so casual and throwaway as human emotional investment and expectations We can attempt to mould our feelings and reactions into a straitjacket of hanging loose and easy over intimate relationships but we cannot really leave biology and human nature out of the equation as we bound into the dim future of destiny and long-term relationships.

But perhaps, in the minds of many, long-term relationships were not the goal, but rather sequential ones, reflecting our state of being at any given time throughout life's journey. As we matured and gained experience our interests and self-absorption might dictate that we move on to taste-test what might await in another relationship offering a different experience and horizon? For those who were leery of what is implied in commitment and 'long-range', and forever-after it might have worked.

For those women who required the comfort and assurance of a companion through life's struggles and its joys and heartaches, to be taken for granted and considered dispensable might not have been the resolution to life's search for intimacy and companionship. Ms. Macleod recognizes that many women find happiness and fulfillment in cohabitation or casual sex, as she put it. Those women aside, she speaks of the multitudes for whom happiness in a common law relationship didn't eventuate.

Of her clients she speaks of women disappointed and disillusioned when they encountered indifference or behaviour bespeaking narcissism in the non-committed men who shared their lives. On the other hand, she pointed out, she had never heard male clients make any complaints relating to lack of commitment from their partners. It could be that she had far more female clients than male clients, or her conclusion might have been based on equal representation.

But it is also true that often enough men look for different satisfactions in co-habiting relationships than women do. If children are concerned in the relationship there are obvious reasons for women to want their children to plan for a permanent live-in father to help raise them. This biological need arose out of early society recognizing and impelling the family unit, after all.

Research appears to affirm the many measurable benefits in the convention of formal marriage; mental and physical both, over the relationship of cohabitation. Married pairs remain intact as a unit at higher rates than couples simply cohabiting.  Within marriage, finances are improved, providing that stable relationship for children (whom statistics point out fare less well in cohabiting households).

Research appears to point to greater happiness and higher reported levels of well-being among married as opposed to their common-law or cohabiting counterparts. Between 2006 and 2011 in Canada the number of common-law couples rose 13.9 percent, over four times the 3.1 percent rise for married couples. In the year 2011, 16.7 percent of all census families were identified as common-law, leaving married couples the predominant family structure at 67 percent.

The women's liberation ideology that held marriage to be associated with subordination of women and sexual repression, surprisingly enough has resulted in university-educated women on average 27 years of age and without children from previous relationships faring best in relation to marriage outcomes.

A 2010 report issued by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia demonstrated that college and university graduates of both genders reported highest levels of marital happiness. Make of that what you will.

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