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The Impact of Promiscuity in College Life: A Personal Perspective

Originally Published: Monday, September 20, 2004
Written by: Erik LaBranche   

Examining the Shift from Long-Term Relationships to Casual Encounters in College Culture

Observations from the Sidelines

To young adults in contemporary America, specifically in the college atmosphere, long term courtships have significantly lost their importance.  I’m not sure if I can say in my personal observations that I have seen much of this since I try relatively hard to avoid the college party scene. 

The Promiscuity Trend: A Common Narrative

 What I have witnessed confused me and disturbed me in varying degrees.  Anyway, most of my evidence is based on stories from friends and acquaintances.  These people are from Connecticut state universities, New York state universities, a few private universities in the northeast, and some aren’t in school.  Many of those I associate with have engaged in some sort of promiscuous sex during their lifetime.  Some do it habitually while others have decided to disassociate with that path. Many people seem to use this as a way to avoid getting hurt by exposing themselves to someone else.  This idea of a free sexual atmosphere can be seen on television and in other forms of media, so I’m sure this isn’t really news to anyone at this point.

The Consequences of Casual Encounters

In my opinion, actively participating in this environment has adverse effects on the overall happiness of people, particularly women.  I know some males who seem genuinely pleased living this way.  However, the rest of the people I know who participate in this lifestyle seem unsatisfied in life.  These people seem to use these one night stands as a quick fix to larger problems.  

The Role of Substance Use

Most of these people also use alcohol regularly and several use other drugs as well.  They seem to use all these things as an escape.  Additionally, all these people seem to have lower-than-average self-esteem and feelings of severe loneliness.  Despite their excuses and rationalizing, in the long run they seem to have lower self-esteem than before and stronger feelings of being alone.  It can be conjectured that these sexual experiences leave them feeling rejected since no further contact is pursued by the other party, as well as feelings of objectification.  This can force a person’s self-esteem down.  Pertaining to loneliness, the partner of this intimate experience may seem to take a part of the person with them when s/he leaves.  Also, after such an intense experience, of any kind, with someone, one would be left feeling a bit lonely; accordingly, when this process is repeated habitually, this loneliness compounds itself.  However, I am not saying an atmosphere of pure abstinence would be any better.  We cannot deny our natural instincts and hormones, but we also do not have to give in to every temptation.

Challenging Sexual Liberation

Also, this idea of sexual liberation seems to demean the idea of being loyal to one person.  How will these studs and sluts know how to maintain a long term relationship?  There is a great deal of emphasis now on sexual experience, but what about the experience in what you would like in a long term partner?  It seems that almost everyone who participates in the sexual promiscuity of college will not know how to approach someone s/he wishes to date, only how to hook up with that person.  Outside of knowing how to be sexually pleasing, they will have little experience in how to make a relationship work, or possibly even how to properly treat or communicate well with someone of the opposite sex.  Lastly on this point, due to this environment, many young adults don’t seem to want a long term courtship.  They seem to hope that they can stay this way for as long as possible.

This environment can also cause those who participate to feel shame, confusion, and tension, as well as some anxiety.  There can be shame in unsuccessful or embarrassing events during a one night stand.  Also, confusion, tension, and anxiety are all probable from trying to read in between the innuendo and signals of what the desired person wants, especially if the pursuer is intoxicated.  Additionally, since alcohol is typically involved the negative aspects often have an excuse ready.  Pursuing someone who doesn’t want to be pursued, failure to perform well, belligerence, the act of promiscuous sex itself, as well as forms of rape all seem pardoned because no one can be held responsible for what they do when they cause themselves to get drunk.

Personal Reflections: Choosing a Straightedge Lifestyle

As a person who chooses not to participate in this sexual smorgasbord because of straightedge lifestyle, I also am faced with some shame and confusion.  Often, I am badgered for why I choose not to be promiscuous, especially as a male. I’ve also been teased for not “sleeping with enough women,” however many that is.  This situation can provoke shame, confusion, and discomfort at times.

It also seems that neither males nor females make out well overall because of this environment.  There seems to be pros and cons for both sides.  Men seem generally more satisfied with the sexual environment; however, women appear to see men more as pigs that can’t control themselves than ever. Women seem to have emotional problems associated with this environment, but they seem to be more accepted as sexual beings than before.  In my personal opinion both sides lose more than they gain, though.

So where is all this going?  What is the point?  Is the goal to nail as many people as possible?  If the idea of fulfillment in the minds of these young peoples is some kind Gene Simmons sexual conquest, then I guess they are living fulfilled lives; however, I hope that they all hold higher personal aspirations.

Advocating for Long-Term Relationships

Overall, I feel I live a much more fulfilled life, living a straightedge lifestyle.  I’m not wasting all my time chasing girls and trying to get them drunk.  Through, more traditional methods of dating I have been able to find a woman that I can appreciate and love and maintain a relationship with.  We have been together for almost two years now and the relationship still feels refreshing.  Additionally, despite what many people may think, I certainly do not have a poor sex life due to this monogamy.  Accordingly, I have a fulfilling, loving sexual relationship, and am able to pursue more productive paths in my life.  Granted I feel that I am quite lucky to have what I have; however, when it comes to long-term happiness and fulfillment, it seems that pursuing long-term relationships far outweighs promiscuity.

I agree.
Written by Redemption86 on 2005-05-11 17:31:29I’ve engaged in these hookups, and I regret it more than you know. I can’t detach myself the way a lot of those people can.
Written by Guest on 2005-03-14 16:02:40I find your observations to be both valid and pertinent.
Written by Guest on 2005-03-10 10:20:38ya..

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