- - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I found myself humming the tune and first phrase of “Touch me in the Morning,” made famous by Diana Ross. I couldn’t remember the rest of the words, but the melody kept echoing in my mind. Frustrated, I resurrected the words: “Touch me in the morning, then just walk away. We don’t have tomorrow, but we had yesterday.” As I remembered that this hauntingly beautiful melody by Ron Miller was paired to Michael Masser’s distressing lyrics, I became frustrated. Actually angry!

I was surprised by the depth of my feelings as I thought about the lie that the song perpetuates. Maybe it’s because of the many wrecked relationships I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because I want much more for my loved ones than what this song is selling. It’s a familiar trope in novels, films and music, and it is disastrous – no matter how pervasive, glamorous and romantic the sentiment: One knows that the other is faithless, fickle and lacks character, but the chemistry between them is so strong that it’s worth having only one night to have the memory for the rest of life.

Emotional mush. End it immediately. It is a memory for life for sure, but not one to treasure. As Hugh Hefner painfully confessed, that other guy will always be in bed with her and the guy she eventually marries. And, as Princess Diana noted: a third person makes things “a bit crowded.” Sadly so.

Wise up, babe, you deserve more than being some self-centered person’s one-night-stand or merely a place-holder until the real thing comes along! The old maxims hold true. A memory is pretty cold company. Intimacy without commitment is empty and, ultimately, devastating. Taking without giving is the work of a thief.

Several new books have exposed the consequences of society normalizing and glamorizing such behavior. Mark Regnerus’ book, “Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy,” exposes the real cost of the “cheap sex” revolution. Regnerus wrote, “There is a great deal of misinformation, sculpted narratives and idealistic theorizing going on. I prefer realism, even if I’m not crazy about what I find.” What he found is a “very sad new world, particularly for women who are ‘learning to have sex like men’ but also end up being subjugated to men’s interests.”

Sex as described in both Mr. Regnerus’ “Premarital Sex in America” and in “Cheap Sex” is in one sense an economic transaction; that is, it can be evaluated in terms of the “transaction costs” paid by the participants. Increasingly, women, who used to be the gatekeepers, are paying the price; guys can get girls in bed very easily and inexpensively. Time was, the “set price” involved the guy romancing, wooing, cultivating a “relational investment” and, ultimately, making the commitment of marriage. Now, women are a “rankable commodity” in a “hook-up” or “rape” culture; they end up “giving more than they get” in a social and financial culture that in the process of cheapening sex has denigrated marriage.

Bottom line: Young women, any guy not willing to commit to you is not worthy of your time and certainly not your intimacy.

I realize such sentiments seem hopelessly anachronistic in today’s culture, but take a minute to think about the real world of today’s young women.

Look at the #metoo outpouring. Women today are quite obviously very weary of being “used.” Some of them were willing to go along to get ahead in their careers, others were caught in vulnerable circumstances beyond their experience or control, some were awed into subservience by power discrepancies, and others imagined a seriousness the guy never intended. Regardless, afterward, they felt used and abused; taken advantage of in disagreeable and disgusting ways. Afterward, they felt cheap and abandoned. It’s happening all across America as the #metoo movement reveals.

Look at the “Affirmative Consent Contracts” that are supposed to prevail on college campuses. College students are told to “take a picture with a contract before having sex” to ensure both parties are “officially consenting.” California now requires all state-funded institutions to require affirmative consent to avoid risking sexual assault charges. Of course, the contracts have a requirement for sobriety; anybody can claim afterward that he/she was too drunk to be held accountable at some stage in the process. There goes that utopian idea! Guys know “liquor is quicker!”

Look at the statistics. The stark reality, according to Mr. Regnerus’ estimation is that one-third of today’s 20-somethings will never get married. Currently, the number of unmarried American adults outnumber married ones. Married couples in 1950 represented 78 percent of households. In 2014, singles made up 50.2 percent. One in seven adults now live alone (31 million compared with 4 million in 1950).

Kate Bolick’s “Spinster,” describes the very complex reality of the new sexual mores: The prevalence of singleness is central to “the country’s growing economic, racial, and geographic divides.” The economic divide of marriage/singleness is very well-documented by social scientists like, W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia. That divide means that, increasingly, marriage is a privilege of the educated; they and their children benefit from the advantages that marriage conveys; single mothers and their children, especially, risk poverty and the many negative outcomes social scientists have identified.

The well-educated ones still value marriage; once again, it’s the vulnerable poor who are hurt by the utopian ideas of sex without boundaries sold by the elites in beautiful songs and idealized “love stories” that aren’t really love stories at all but are seductive invitations to a life of momentary pleasure promised to have only “manageable” consequences. Sadly, the less educated are not likely to consider Victor Hugo’s account in Les Misérables of the broken dreams, the pain and death experienced by Fantine after the “days of endless wonder” abruptly end.

So no, memorable sex does not come down to merely being strong as you “see how love dies.” Nor does it mean cherishing a short-term memory as he walks away saying he’s got no more to give. Rubbish.

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