Years ago Dr. Patricia Futia was getting her MA in marriage and family therapy when she noticed a lot of the people coming in had sexual issues that were causing trouble in their lives. Having seen very little training for such things, she decided to further her education to not only help people, but to get better informed about a subject she feels is still lacking in our society.
Knowing that elsewhere in other countries there are less teen pregnancies, rape and lower STD rates because of sexual education boggles Dr. Futia’s mind because here in the US – she still cannot wrap her head around why her own county has failed to see the correlation between education and the good of society – sexually speaking. She wonders why we teach these sort of things in secrecy. I agree 100% because looking back, sex-ed was basically a day-long assignment with some gnarly pictures of herpes and that was about it.
Talking with Dr. Futia was fascinating because while I wanted to get her opinion on hooking up and sex as a whole – which I did – I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did. Her greatest lesson being that if you aren’t comfortable to talk with your partner about sex before you have it, you’re not mature enough to have it in the first place.
Now more from a woman who has been at this for over a decade…
Kendra: Sex and the appropriate age to engage varies from culture to culture but here in the states it seems like late teens to your early 20’s is when a lot of people lose their virginity. Would you say that’s the “right” time in terms of maturity on being able to handle taking that step?
Dr. Patricia Futia: I think that it’s an it’s and individual decision because maturity levels vary. I think the lack of sexual education in our culture is more of the issue. With the proper amount of sexual education an individual can decide what’s in their best interest, and studies have shown that foreign countries that do have sexual education starting as early as kindergarten – they are making better informed decisions.
Kendra: Right now we’re living in a very heightened “hook up” culture thanks to the explosion in interest in dating apps like Tinder. On one hand I think we should explore multiple partners to find what we like and dislike, but on another it seems like it could mentally do some harm. Is there more negatives or positives to a continuous hook up lifestyle?
Dr. Futia: Again I’m going to go back to education. People hook up for different reasons. Often times it’s more about the emotional connection; wanting to be touched. Sex seems to follow, and isn’t necessarily what the individual is looking for.
Kendra: For those who are not comfortable being as sexually open with themselves who may still be virgins or have only slept with a few people, do you feel those people are missing out in any way on developing sexually as people?
Dr. Futia: I think it depends on what the circumstances are. If they’re not having sex because they’re fearful of their skill set, uncomfortable with their body, or had other insecurities – I would want to know more about why they’re not because there could be so many other issues. Perhaps they haven’t explored their own cultural beliefs, values, morals. There’s so much more that could be evaluated.
Again I am going to go back to education. It’s lacking because sexual education is not all about having sex. That’s just one part of sexuality. There’s the intimate part of sexuality as well, and we’re confusing the two. Intimacy doesn’t mean having a sexual relationship. It is the emotional aspect of sexuality the caring, risk, vulnerability. While sensuality/sex is the physical; the touching, how I feel about my body, how I feel about your body, what I like, enjoyment.
Kendra: So how important is intimacy in an adult’s life?
Dr. Futia: Critical because even if you aren’t in love with someone because remember intimacy is the emotional side of sexuality. The caring, sharing, risking, conversation part. So if you don’t have that part of the relationship and you’re just going with the physical, in my opinion there’s a big void because you’re not able to have those conversations; what I like, what I don’t like, what I am going to do, what I’m not going to do, how I feel. So I think intimacy is incredibly important.
Kendra: Circling back to the hook up culture. Do you think too much sex with too many people can lead to a generation full of people unable to commit to longstanding relationships?
Dr. Futia: No, I think they’re two separate situations. I think those who don’t want commitment don’t want it, and those that do do. Sex is secondary to a commitment. I certainly believe that it’s important that women identify what they’re looking for though because so often they’ll say hook up sex is all cool and okay, but truly they are looking for something more exclusive, and that’s not often what’s being communicated.
Kendra: Lastly, on a professional level – what do you believe the biggest high and the lowest low of sex are?
Dr. Futia: I think the lowest low would be being involved in a sexual relationship and desiring a more intimate and emotional connection, but just receiving the physical. Then the highest high would be a relationship where there is sexual pleasure, satisfaction and intimacy.