My book, College Basic Training: strengthen your mind and body to leap any college hurdle, helps college students understand that staying healthy goes way beyond a green smoothie and dorm room exercise. Maintaining good physical and mental health also requires managing the many impulses that may undermine our well-being.
Each decision we make has a profound affect on our mental and physical health. If we don’t control our eating, we might reach an unhealthy weight. If we stay up all night with friends, we risk a week of illness. If we don’t control our drinking, we might have a life-changing mishap. If we don’t control our social media obsession, we may not meet our deadlines. If we try a drug, we might get hooked. If we have unprotected sex, we risk serious disease and pregnancy. Because of all the pressures of college life, managing such impulses can be a serious challenge.
I want young women to be empowered with strength—to respect themselves and their bodies and follow their hearts and brains. I want them to trust themselves and have the courage to act on what they know is best for them. Both young men and women need to be aware that casual sex, as prevalent as it is, may cause serious repercussions.
Many parents have been outraged by the messages the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is sending our kids. I feel compelled to share an excerpt from “Sex and Relationships,” a chapter that appears in College Basic Training: Strengthen your mind and body to leap any college hurdle:
You have been hearing the words “protected sex” for years. The threats of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases have been described in your health classes since you were in grade school. The media has exploded with messages on these topics. However, have you really thought about how these issues affect you?
As I have mentioned before, my hope for you, my children, and my friends’ and clients’ children is that any young person’s first experience with sex is filled with love, respect and commitment.
I have heard countless stories of teens and young adults who have lost their virginity in a few drunken moments or as a result of peer pressure. The entertainment industry floods our screens with primal, impulsive, passionate sex filled with “off the charts” ecstasy. Sex is portrayed as just another adventure with someone we have just met and really don’t care if we ever see again. Really? Is that how all of us should look at sex—as if it were a casual hobby?
Serious emotional repercussions can result from having a sexual relationship before we are ready. You may not yet have even come close to having a sexual experience or, perhaps, you have had sex in your early teens. However, even if you are a sexually experienced young person, read on because I have important information for you, too!
Whatever your situation, if you are thinking about beginning in a sexual relationship, keep thinking, and let your heart and brain guide you to a place and a decision with which you can live and feel comfortable. Guilt, shame and remorse can be devastating, and the aftermath of these emotions can stay with you indefinitely, often leading to depression.
The truth is that women have a hard time engaging in sexual activity without developing feelings or some sort of emotional connection with their partners. Post “hook-up” trauma is common among women who engage in casual sex and then realize the guy’s not really interested in much else but the booty call. I am not saying the guys can’t feel post “hook-up” trauma, too. Regardless of the situation, taking your clothes off with someone you don’t know well often happens when you’re under the influence—that brief time period when everything seems like a good idea and modesty seems to completely escape your mind!
Guilt for losing self-respect, guilt for using someone, guilt for breaching personal and religious moral beliefs, and fear of pregnancy and disease are enough to send anyone into a frenzy of negative emotion or depression. On the other hand, if you are with someone in a committed relationship and are able to talk and plan your activities and your lives, much less emotional and physical risk will be involved.
However, please remember that even if you are in a committed relationship, it is never all right for someone to pressure you into behaviors you are not ready for. If you find you are giving in as a result of pressure from your partner, then sex in that instance is a bad idea.