Lately, the gap between puberty and marriage has increased so much that it even goes up to twenty years for many. We call it modernization; we call it free will and liberty. It sure is. But are we really providing our kids an environment that is conducive to such space? Are we bringing them up in a way that ensures that they maturely deal with modern day issues? Not just the gap between puberty and marriage has widened, with it has also grown the gap between generations. We grow up watching the likes of ‘Friends’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ in our rooms; while our parents are watching ‘Taarak Mehta’ in the living hall. The attitude may seem every day, the difference slight; what we overlook is the gap that has become too wide now.
One such case of a by-product of a modern civilization is an indulgence in casual sex, though it may not be so casual for many Indian teens and youth. We talked to Dr Manu Tiwari, head, Mental Health and Behavioural Science and Dr Tanya Tayal, psychologist, Mental Health and Behavioural Science, Fortis, Noida. They helped us understand why the youth is indulging more and more in casual sex, how it is impacting their mental health and what needs to be done to minimize its negative impact.
WHY YOUTH IS INDULGING MORE AND MORE IN CASUAL SEX
For Dr Tanya, there are three primary factors that are leading teens to indulge in casual sex.
Firstly, it happens due to an easy availability of contraceptives.
Secondly, it happens due to an easy availability of options. This includes opportunities, space, and other conducive factors.
Thirdly, it happens due to a fascination with the idea of independence and peer pressure. Teenage is the age when we experiment the most and sex becomes a means of experimenting and identifying with one’s identity, says Dr Tanya. Sex can also seem to add a sense of achievement that teens love to flaunt.
HOW IT IMPACTS THEIR MINDS
There can be three major setbacks that are caused by amateur indulgence in casual sex.
Loss of faith in meaningful relationships
Casual sex can distort one’s understanding of commitment and meaningfulness in a relationship. It is not ideal for teenagers to understand and draw a line between a committed relationship and casual hook-ups. Many can confuse the two, leading to a complicated view of sex in general, which neglects emotional indulgence, says Dr Tanya.
Sex can become a means of escape for many who do not understand the dynamics of a relationship. Teenagers, whenever confronted with bigger and more stressful questions of relationships, can indulge in sex, as it provides a temporary sense of relief and pressure. As temporary as this relief is, so is the briefness of such relationships.
Emotional vulnerability and guilt
Many teens, particularly girls, have reported feeling ‘being used’ after sex is over. Dr Manu said that over 50 per cent of casual hook-ups in India happen under the influence of some form of narcotic, be it alcohol or drugs. These help in reducing inhibitions at that point of time but later on, it can make the person feel pathetic about himself. This can drive him to guilt.
Also, for situations where women end up getting pregnant and needing abortions, their psychological state can get adversely impacted. Ours is not a society that sees pre-marital sex in a positive light. Bearing with social pressure along with all the physical procedures one has to go through can make the woman guilt-ridden, depressed, anxious or even prone to panic attacks, says Dr Manu.
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
If we are to help the younger generation deal with such sexual issues maturely, we need to aware them in the same spirit. A child needs to decide for himself if what he really wants is a casual hook up, an open relationship, polyamorousity or a commitment. For this, he needs to understand the difference among these from the very start. It is necessary that the parents talk to him about such issues and not shun them away thinking that their kids are not such low on morals to hook up casually because the statistics show otherwise.