by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new study has found that more and more Americans are settling for non-romantic sexual relationships, a trend that is being blamed by researchers for the rapid spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
USA Today is reporting that a study conducted by the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences found that a third of the heterosexual adults they studied admitted that their sexual relationship was not exclusive.
“The United States has seen a major shift toward non-romantic sexual partnerships — people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all,” said study author Anthony Paik of the University of Iowa.
He and his colleagues studied 783 heterosexual adults, ages 18 to 60, and asked how many people they had been sexually involved with during their most recent non-romantic sexual relationship and found that 17 percent of men and five percent of women acknowledged that they had been with someone else.
In another group, 17 percent of women and eight percent of men say they had been faithful, but their partner had not. Twelve percent of women and 10 percent of men admitted that neither of them had been faithful.
Sexual involvement among friends was found to increase the likelihood of multiple partners for 44 percent of women and 25 percent of men.
Respondents who got along with each other’s parents were less likely to have multiple sex partners, which Paik believes may be because people are less likely to risk a relationship when they consider the impact on family.
The study, which was published in the March issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, did not mention any of the emotional problems associated with casual sex, but did warn about the physical risks such as the increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
“People can make their own choices, but we hope this information will be useful as they weigh the risks and rewards of non-romantic sexual relationships,” Paik said. “We encourage people to be aware of the potential for sexual concurrency and take appropriate precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections.”
Church teaching on the subject of chastity has a vastly different view and one that is much more concerned with the overall health of the person in mind, body and soul.
“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality [i.e., completeness] of the gift.” (No. 2337)
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