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Sex is everywhere. It’s a necessity, a fundamental activity for living creatures. We’ve known this for centuries, met with this fact daily and suffered the consequences of it in the morning. We talk about sex with friends, we sing about sex in songs and it’s definitely hard to escape on a college campus packed with shockingly beautiful students. Why then, while I’m sitting in lecture scribbling down the last of my notes, am I surprised to see a glowing screen nestled in the lap of the man next to me and his twitchy thumb swiping right? It’s not that I’m prudish or an avid follower of the “no technology in the classroom rule,” but I have a hard time imagining that our discussion on game theory just sparked this guy’s urgent need to bone. I won’t say that I didn’t judge, because I definitely did. But it did get me thinking.
We know that sex is a basic human need. It’s needed for reproducing and it’s even better when we’re not reproducing. We also know that sex today is ubiquitous. Not only do we see that with the example of our horny little friend on Tinder, but also with the booming sex toy market, the informality of it in everyday life and college hookup culture.
While there is such a huge emphasis on this one basic need, we sometimes forget there’s another basic need we usually factor into this equation — it rhymes with dove, The Beatles claimed it was all you need and it seems to have gotten lost in the mix of sloppy lips and tequila shots.
We need companionship; we need to feel connected, needed and loved. A study done by Purdue University shows that even a gaze from a stranger makes us feel happier and more connected. So why is it that with such an abundance of this one need — sex — that we lose our need for companionship? It’s as if having an excess of sex devalues our need to connect, despite the fact that our biological needs have not changed.
I’m not saying that this is everyone’s reality — as I know successful college relationships exist — nor am I claiming that suddenly we’ve turned into these insatiable animals and everyone’s need for sex is greater. In fact, that’s not the case at all. In her new book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, sociologist Lisa Wade claims that students are not having more sex than their parents did at their age. But something has changed; the increase of casual sex. It used to be that developing an emotional connection to someone was a precursor to intimacy, but now “catching feelings” is an exterminator to any good fling.
I ask, what is the cause of this evolution towards meaningless sex and casual hookups? Could it be that our age restricts us from developing the emotional maturity it takes to care for someone unashamedly? One might argue the fact that in other cultures people are embracing holy matrimony at a young age negates that notion. Beyond whether or not their vows to love each other unconditionally are supported by their hearts, the point is that they have the emotional capacity to attempt companionship. If age isn’t the problem, then is it our society? Do we blame the inventors of Tinder and Bumble, even though all they gave us was a dating app and we turned it into erotic online shopping for a good time? Or maybe it’s the sex-positive feminist movement gone wild? Birds do it, bees do it, men definitely do it, so why can’t women have sex without feelings too? Is this a manifestation of women’s need to prove that “we can do anything they can do, better.”
Or is it possible that there is actually no explanation for why it seems like we need sex more than love? Is there no right answer? It’s possible that the reason for this shift in need from love to sex is as simple as change. Our needs might be changing and those of us who are stuck in this limbo of “do we or don’t we bang on the first date” have to decide whether to snip the strings attached or hold on tight and hope you won’t die alone. In short, I don’t have the answer and I’m not sure there is one.
So if you’ve made it to the end of this diatribe on modern day love and are still searching for the answer on how to get a partner, I’m sorry to report you’ve probably wasted your time. But if you’ve persevered through all my philosophical contemplations for the sole purpose to just think, I hope I’ve provided some food for thought and some new pillow talk conversation.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Clare Curwen at firstname.lastname@example.org.