Let’s Talk About Sex (And Love, If We Have Time)

“Damn it, I am so horny right now!” “I haven’t hooked up with anyone in so long!” “I really need to find a date for the Blue and Silver.” Sound familiar? All of the above are comments made by PA students, male and female, who have fallen into the social conspiracy of adolescent relationships. I use the word conspiracy because, as far as I can tell from my three years here, relationships do not exist. That being said, there is an abundance of other intimate social interactions on this campus: hook-ups, “friends-with-benefits,” sexual encounters, etc. are fairly common. Real dating relationships between Andover students are the extreme minority of contact between peers. But, why? If I’m not mistaken, we have here on campus approximately 1,080 healthy, maturing teenagers, most of whom are or want to be sexually active. According to last year’s Phillipian “State of the Academy” survey 22 percent of students are or have been sexually active. Further, 14.7 percent claimed to have sexual experiences while on campus. Nearly 15 percent – that’s about 103 students or about 10 percent of the student body – are having parietals, approved or otherwise, for reasons other than “studying.” That’s not a lot of sexual activity. Of course, one could always argue that the other 400 or so students who didn’t respond to the survey are the real sex addicts, but unfortunately did not show up in the results. The survey also showed an interesting correlation between sex and sports. The Varsity athletes came out on top with the greatest amount of sexual encounters. Second place was taken by “Recreational Sports.” Um, what? “Varsity Sports” is understandable, considering the attractive figures of the players, both male and female, the amount of time they spend thinking about their bodies (Ex: Is my weight down enough? Did I work out my arms enough today? I should drink more water.) and how comfortable they therefore are with their physical appearances. All that physical exertion, the running, lifting, and training ultimately results in more energy. Let’s just say that energy is used elsewhere. But the recreational athletes . . . must have a lot of time on their hands? My personal theory is that the varsity players are pairing up with the sliders, as sliders have pent-up energy from having “nothing to do” and the athletes have pent-up libido. People are having sex. Some are doing it on campus. Great. Wonderful. Amazing. (Use protection!!!) But where are the dates? The couples we are supposed to see walking each other to class from conference period? The holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc. that actually amounts to something, other than “We’re just really good friends?” (For all of you rolling your eyes right now, it is actually pretty cool to have a person care about you like that.) Where are the relationships? Where is the intimacy? There are several facts (and some theories) that provide useful insight into this question. First of all, let’s think about the academics. According to Coping with Academic Anxiety, a research book by Allen J. Ottens, Ph.D., most teenagers are afflicted with some stress illness relating to a tiresome work schedule at one point in their high school career. Let’ s look at PA: We have minimum five classes per term, plus sports, plus extracurriculars, plus clubs, plus family commitments, plus eating, sleeping, and drinking (the legal kind). Have I mentioned we are exhausted! We are overworked, stressed, and too busy to notice. Yet, we have been taught to work as hard as we possibly can in order to “succeed in life.” So we put up with our lives, running at a breakneck pace, and try to achieve our goals in academia. Not only are we too focused with our work and therefore too tired to invest our feelings in someone else, but also most of us do not put “Getting a Boyfriend/Girlfriend” at the top of our priority list. It is more likely to read “Get into Harvard” or your college of choice. Students at this school are academic over-achievers, but we are social under-achievers. Very few put a real priority on attaining intimacy skills in socializing. Even fewer students attempt to put those skills into practice. Phillips Academy students were accepted into the school and chose to pursue mental development over social development. I am not saying this is the wrong choice. I am saying it is a choice we all made, and it is reflected in the number of couples walking around campus. Secondly, many of us are here at PA because we show signs of natural independence and responsibility. We go to classes, do our homework and even apply to college without Mom and Dad. We have our own ideas of perfect careers, life paths, ideal living situations, etc. and we are not afraid to make our futures our own. We all are self-sufficient. A relationship, a dating relationship, hinders our sense of independence and restricts our schedules. You have to plan out when you can see your significant other, either during a meal, in-between classes, or after school. If you haven’t seen them in a couple hours, a day, a week (which is entirely possible on campus), you begin to feel this impending sense of guilt, which doesn’t help the homework load. Andover students on the whole, want their own time to manage, not someone else’s as well. There are some biological facts, which further push the idea that teenagers are not meant to date long-term, or at least not in high school when hormones are high. Humans are naturally not monogamous. This ideal of fidelity was imposed by Western religions in order to control social relations and procreation. But, in contemporary times, when sex is everywhere and adolescents are given power in society, it is hard for monogamy to be the popular option. Peer pressure promotes this idea, as it is currently a standard for high school students to have multiple sexual experiences with multiple people. It’s hard to think about dating one person when the media screams at you, “But why? You have so many options!” Last year’s Phillipian survey cited one final statistic concerning sex. According to 62 percent of the participating students, Andover suppresses sexual activity in its students. At this point, I have to agree, considering the past points covered. I have a suspicion that most of us are waiting for college to come along. We will say good-bye to our wonderful Academy and think, “Its only a matter of time before I’m in a serious relationship.” Wait, isn’t that what we said when we came here?