and girls should know what their sex experimentation is all about. A kiss for
example, can express friendship and companionship and a general appreciation of
other aspects of a relationship. What does petting express besides
self-gratification? If a couple really care for each other, they should be
bringing more to sex than mere pleasure. Outside of marriage, this is not
possible, and sensible couples will not get involved in anything that will
endanger emotional and intellectual growth in other spheres of their lives.
The sex pleasure obtained from
petting by mutual consent may satisfy a young couple for a while, but it may
have the disadvantage of blocking any further interest in each other as
persons. Such a relationship tends to become restricted; for the couple may
have nothing else in common but the pleasure obtained from the exploitation of
each other’s body.
Many people who have talked over
these problems with counsellors have admitted that other problems follow in the
wake of petting. Social evenings, for example, become battles for control, and
the light-hearted enjoyment of former times turns to tension and conflict.
Often there is an over-all feeling of frustration, even disgust, with
themselves and with sex in general. On the other hand, when sex is kept in an
important place but in control, it is forming the attitudes and habits towards
self and the opposite sex that will be carried on into later life.
Once it is understood that sexual
expression alone is not the most desirable goal in life, and that much more is
needed to achieve satisfaction, it becomes obvious that it is sensible to
sacrifice one kind of temporary satisfaction in order to realize a better set
of values. Youth, for example, needs the respect of others, the ability to work
in with others, particularly with friends and parents, and, most important of
all, it needs self-respect.
Moreover, we do have stronger
desires than the desire of sex satisfaction. We desire to be needed, for
example; we desire to love and be loved. These desire do not manifest
themselves as urgently as the sex desire sometime does, it is true, and so they
often pass unnoticed. Those who constantly indulge their
sexual desires before marriage risk losing the ability to achieve these goals.
They tend particularly to lose their self-respect. Such people often “protest
too much” in trying to rationalize their behaviour, and, because of the
dominance of their sexual desire, they have a sense of enslavement which may
have far-reaching effects on their whole lives. Petting provides “instant
pleasure”, but the easy way is not always the best way. It must not be thought, however,
that young people, drawn to each other in the normal “youth to youth since the
world began” manner, ought to have a relationship lacking in warmth and
affection. But if there is a true mutual appreciation, there will be concern
and thoughtfulness in their relationship, and not a “using” of each other for
self-gratification. In other words, the couple will treat each other as
persons, and their attitude to each other will reflect their own attitude
towards life in general.
In sex matters, this means that
those who are attracted to one another want a relationship that is based on much
more than physical enjoyment. They want the good of the other person, they want
the respect of those who already love and are responsible for that person, and
they want to develop their own ability to know such a person. Thus, they
prepare themselves for true love that may be yet to come.
giving-in to the desire for quick and easy sex pleasure is a stumbling-block to
such developments. Sex pleasure becomes an end in itself. When sex demands are
not made, however, couples learn to talk and listen to each other and get to
know each other as persons. This gradually establishes a companionship basis
that will provide a valuable contribution to their happiness in marriage, if
the attraction proves to be a lasting one. If it does not, they will still have
taken a valuable step towards maturity.