In the past few weeks, there seems to have been a spike of discussion online and in real life of females who have Friends With Benefits (FWBs) versus “a real” relationship and whether or not it is settling. I find this uniquely interesting as it is mostly the females who felt a sense of “less-than” or guilt for their choices. Most males do not feel any lessening of their self-worth for having FWBs, let alone guilt. So why are so many females so hung up over it. For simplicity I am going to mostly stick with the cisgender heterosexual monogamous relationships as I write, honestly because it’s easier, but the subject crosses genders, sexualities and poly/mono -gamies.
Just as I had to work out my own issues, everyone must decide their sexual comfort levels that for themselves. I am not providing a How To on getting around/past/over said guilt. This is simply my two cents on why so many women seem to have this guilt in the first place. Your mileage will definitely vary.
I think a lot of the “guilt” some women put on themselves about sex outside of a relationship and/or marriage is rooted in the things taught to us growing up. Whether covertly or overtly a lot of it comes down do modern society’s taint that sex should be about love. In short, women should only be having sex with the person in which she shares mutual love. And if the mutual love is there then they should be married. Blame the “happily ever after” Prince Charming fed to little girls through Disney princess animations and every romantic comedy where gal gets the guy tropes as adults. Unfortunately, these far from realistic ideals of love and romance become so ingrained in our psyches, that come adulthood if it’s not Fourth of July fireworks, swelling arias, heart beat skipping breathlessness 24/7 it’s then it is somehow “less than” and is therefore settling.
Every female that reaches adulthood has heard “If you’re good enough to have sex with you then you’re good enough to marry”. While more experienced females, married or not, tend to have less of a bias on the subject, it is still very hard for most young females to work through the duality of wanting to satisfy a basic need versus “what would Mama think?” It is a grace to the modern times that couples who live together have far less of a stigma now than as few as fifty years ago. That we are now in the 21st Century has very little bearing on these core beliefs handed down to us through the ages since Adam and Eve. And speaking of the First Couple… Compound all of the above with the thought of many religions which equate, and condemn, sex outside of the marital bed as being a sin.
The magic of the marital bed, in and of itself is funny as it does not 100% absconds one from the guilt of sex. I know many women that have been married or in long term relationships for years, but still will not have sex in their parent’s home when going for an extended family visit. I can pretty much guarantee that 90% of the time it is the female who has the hang-up about it. And 90% of that 90% is due to the fear of what their dear moms would think. These are from women who clearly did not arrive upon this earth via immaculate conception, yet the very thought of their mothers even thinking that they themselves are doing the very thing that gave them life, though they have every legal and “moral” right to as a married person, still makes them uncomfortable.
And while according to the adage the numbers of “size” doesn’t matter, oh but the number of partners a female has seem to do. Even a woman who is a serial monogamist has this magic intangible number that suddenly transforms her from someone continually looking, but failing to find love, to becoming something…else. A woman with one FWB is merely is not even pretending that what she is doing is about finding love and at best is “settling”, at worst she too becomes the ambiguous “something…else”. However, females happily engaging in multiple FWBs may then have wonderful pseudonyms from trollop to whore attached to their deeds as the classic double standards of the Madonna/Whore syndrome rears its nasty little head. Because oddly enough, even after all this time, since Eve said “Yes” oh so long ago, the onus to say “No”, to resist temptation – especially sexual temptation, is almost always on the female. Thus, those of us who can’t or simply won’t resist are in the wrong.
After all, we all know boys will be boys, but good girls don’t.
When society in general has managed to create this dichotomy that glorifies and vilifies sex, even for those who have “the rights” to do it, really, is it any wonder so many women have guilt?
That’s my two cents for today – come see how others are slicing:
Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Challenge – Two Writing Teachers
I wonder how guilty women from other, more liberal countries, feel? The US is definitely uptight about sex and has a double standard for women. I do think things have gotten better — but it’s a hard thing to quantify. Nice post!
Thanks for your observations. I find that women feel more guilt in general than men, and my cousins in Italy have shared that perspective with me. Sex is just one facet of that guilt.
You’ve given us a lot to think about. Guilt is tricky to dodge even when you want to.