How we view our sexual experiences tells us a lot about ourselves.
In Part I of our sex and time perspectives series, Want a Better Sex Life? (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/want-bet...
), we discussed the importance of time perspective in relation to human sexuality. Part II, It’s Time for Sex! (https://my.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/its-time...
) was all about guys, sex and their time perspectives. In Part III, we’ve taken a different tact and interviewed four women of varying ages about the importance of sex in their lives. In the process we gained invaluable insight into their time perspectives and how far women have travelled on the road to sexual equality in our society - and how much farther we have to go.
The women interviewed range in age from 17 to 87, but the synopses are not in their chronological order. Two of the women are clients and the other two were kind enough to share their personal experiences. Also, due to length, the column will be in two parts. In this column we start with the youngest (client) and jump to the oldest (not a client). Next week, first up will be a young woman (client), and end with our middle ager (not a client.) Each of the women has given permission to use their stories; however their names have been changed. Also, therapy conducted with the women who are clients is not included as we were more interested in sharing their viewpoints rather than delving into their therapy. Hope you enjoy the column. Warning: it gets a little “hot”.
The Young and the Rest of Us (Present Hedonists)
Jackie is a 17 year old high school student with a 4.0 grade point average who hooked up with her older boyfriend (we’ll call him “BF”) two years ago. “I had been checking out BF for a while. He’s a hottie and everybody wanted to be with him. He has had a lot of really pretty girlfriends older than me – even older than him - so I was flattered he chose me… We had sex on the second date. I thought I would lose him if I didn’t…Sex the first time was okay…But it wasn’t anything like I read about in romance novels. A lot of my friends were having sex and I thought I might as well get it over with…And he told me that most of his other girlfriends had sex with him on the first date.” When asked if she used protection, she said, “Not the first couple of weeks; he didn’t like using anything and it happened kind of fast…I went to the free clinic and got on the pill.” Unfortunately, she was also treated for Chlamydia.
Jackie was in therapy for trauma totally unrelated to sex, but that’s what she wanted to talk about during sessions. “BF and I have sex all the time. He has his own place not too far away. He picks me up from school and we go there. Sometimes I climb out my bedroom window at night and walk to his place. Sometimes he climbs in my window when my parents are asleep; that’s when it’s exciting because we might get caught.” Jackie no longer socializes with her girlfriends since she started dating BF. “I don’t hang out with my friends anymore because I want to be with BF. I don’t like it when I see him flirt with my friends, so I hang out with BF’s friends instead.”
BF was a senior when he and Jackie got together. He has a steady job and works as an auto mechanic. Jackie is academically very bright and when queried if she plans on higher education, she said, “I don’t like thinking about going away to college. I don’t want to leave BF.” When asked if she loves BF, Jackie tilted her head, looked down and replied, “I thought I did…Then I found out he’s having sex with an old girlfriend while I’m in school. We got in an argument and I broke up with him. But we got back together later that night. When he’s not looking I check his phone; he texts her all the time. I don’t say anything anymore because I don’t want to lose him.” I asked her if she enjoys having sex. Her reply, “I like it better than before. We have it a lot – like almost every day. BF likes to watch porn and he has a lot of magazines. It makes me really uncomfortable because I don’t look like that…I try to act like the girls in the videos. I am learning a lot but it’s like I am acting. I could win an Oscar.”
Most teenagers are present hedonists and Jackie is no exception. They live for the moment without much thought of future consequences. For Jackie, sex is a means to an end. She got the guy she was after and has adapted her life around him in order to keep him. In the process, she suffers low self-esteem, does things she doesn’t want to, and has stunted plans for the future. It is also obvious that she is not in his future plans in any serioius way, other than just a lay in the hay by night and day.
Silver Fox/Gray Wolf (Past Negative/Past Positive)
At 87, Mary has had sex with one man we will call The Man (that’s how she refers to him.) They were married for 65 years; The Man recently passed away. I interviewed Mary at the assisted living facility where she lives. “I dated a lot when I was young but a good girl never went past a certain point. You know what I mean? I only dated guys in the service. This was during World War II. I thought dating them would be safe because they were always being shipped out and I wasn’t looking to get married. I wanted a career! I was sort of old – 22 – and my friends told me I was an old maid. Most of them were married and had babies. But I fell in love and got married to a career service man.”
I asked her about her sex life and was surprised at her candidly eager response. “My girl friends had given me all these sexy negligees and teddies – the panties were crotchless! I was scared to death but that man was gentle. I really liked sex! It was so much fun! But The Man had an appetite! He wanted it morning, noon and night unless he was shipped out. I got pregnant within a few months and sex wasn’t so fun for a while. We were both raised Catholic so we didn’t even use the rhythm method or any protection. In those days if you got pregnant, you just accepted it. You were going to have a baby. There was no choice. But as soon as I was feeling up to it, we were back at it. Not three times a day anymore because there was a baby, but once a day when he wasn’t overseas. And then I got pregnant, and got pregnant again. We had eight children. By the last one, I was done with sex. I was nearly 40 and thought, This is a change of life baby and I need to change my life. Enough is enough. It was fun but I didn’t want to be like other friends who had a dozen mouths to feed.”
I asked Mary how her decision to forego sex at age 40 affected her relationship with The Man and if he or she missed having sex. “Hell no! He had affairs! He had affairs when I was having all those babies and he kept it up when I said E-N-U-F-F! I knew he was out carousing – and my lady friends told me they’d see him with this one or that one. How can a man with that big an appetite not have affairs? But divorce wasn’t an option and anyway, we couldn’t get divorced because we were Catholic. It was out of the question.” And what about Mary? “I missed having sex but I figured that was a time in my life - I have good and bad memories about sex.” The bad? “Thinking about The Man with those other women. That was hard and still causes me grief. I wasn’t enough for him.” The good? “We had some kind of fun! I try to think about that more than the other.” Toward the end of the interview, Mary stated, “I wish I was born later – I wish I was young in the 1970s. I wish I had a choice. But I didn’t. Young women nowadays don’t realize the freedom they have.”
Mary’s has a combination of past negative/past positive time perspectives when it comes to her sexual life, but to her mental credit, she makes a conscious choice to think of the good old times rather than the bad.
In our next column, we’ll tune in to a young career woman with an infant and a toddler as well as a middle-aged mother of a disabled child. Hope you join us.
To read more about time perspective basics, click here http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/its-time..., http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/want-bet..., www.timecure.com
Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory at www.thetimeparadox.com to discover your personal time perspective.
Visit our website, HYPERLINK "http://www.timecure.com/" \t "_blank" www.timecure.com, to view a free 20 minute video - The River of Time; you’ll learn self-soothing techniques as well as how to let go of past negatives, work towards a brighter future, and live in a more compassionate present.
See The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective HYPERLINK "http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/psychotherapy" \o "Psychology Today looks at Psychotherapy" Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword & Sword, 2012, Wiley Publishing); for strategies to reduce stress and improve communication, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.timecure.com/" \o "www.timecure.com" \t "_blank" www.timecure.com and HYPERLINK "http://www.lifehut.com/" \o "www.lifehut.com" \t "_blank" www.lifehut.com.