Sunday, February 5, 2023

Botswana floundering in the age of hook-ups

Botswana is getting younger and this is changing everything, including sex. The traditional boy meets girl start a family with a white picket fence and live happily ever after plot line has been replaced by the hedonistic  free love fallout.

Gaborone clinical psychologist, Tshepiso Teseletso says, “one of the major impacts is that young people are increasingly growing apprehensive about meaningful relationships, as often people confuse commitment and casual hook ups and this leads to a lack of emotional proximity. Casual sex also tends to become an easy way out for people who shy away from addressing difficult questions concerning their relationship.” This wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am culture however glosses over a lot of complications.

Teseletso says “ a  lot of people also admit that they feel that they’ve been used after having sex, as mostly girls experienced this. Almost half of casual hook ups in the country happen under influence of alcohol or substances, which remove inhibitions for the time being, but could leave people feeling guilty and may lead to low self-esteem.”

The whole thing quickly degenerates from idealism to despair.

For both men and women, sex with a casual stranger bodes poorly for mental health and self-esteem. Research shows those who were not depressed before had more depressive symptoms and loneliness after engaging in casual sex.

With the gap between puberty and entry into marriage getting ever wider, more “emerging adults” are turning to casual encounters as a way to express and satisfy their sexual needs. Hookups are part of a popular cultural shift that has infiltrated the lives of emerging adults throughout the Westernized world. And yet hookups pose a significant threat to the physical and psychological health of these young individuals. In addition to the known risks of contracting STDs, developing unwanted pregnancies, and being raped or otherwise assaulted, people who engage in casual sex may suffer emotional consequences that persist long after the details of an encounter are a dim memory. On university campuses, where brief sexual liaisons are prevalent, unanticipated results can jeopardize a student’s career. In the workplace, the results can be just as disastrous, if not more so. The topic of sexual relationships outside the context of long-term relationships is challenging. Regret, faulty memory, and shame or embarrassment can taint or limit people’s self-reports while, at the same time, others exaggerate their encounters in the opposite direction. Despite our 21st-century reality, many of our social norms remain tied to 20th-century sensibilities. The old double standard still looks down on women, but either glorifies or fails to blame men who make a habit of having frequent, uncommitted sex. There may be a biological basis to the greater acceptance of casual sex among men, but there is no way to separate biology from sociocultural influences given that the two are so tightly intertwined and will forever remain so. Despite the flood of media messages that hook-ups are okay, if not desirable, people may still feel that they have done something that violates their own internal standards. Feeling perhaps pressured to get involved because “everyone else is,” they may develop performance anxiety, ironically setting the stage for future sexual dysfunction. Other common reactions include regret, disappointment, confusion, embarrassment, guilt, and low self-esteem, although other individuals certainly report feeling proud, nervous, excited, and desirable or wanted. (Feelings tended to be more positive before and during a hook-up, and more negative afterward.)

Dr Karabo Thokwane, clinical sexologist and sex educator says, “Casual sex, hook-ups or one-night stands: whatever you call it, people will or have probably had sex with someone they barely know or don’t expect to date in the future. Sex within relationships is said to improve cardiovascular health, reduce depression and boost immunity, but social science research has often linked casual encounters to feelings of sexual regret, low self-esteem and psychological distress, especially among women. While men regret the sexual opportunities they missed, women often regret some of the casual sex they did have. Women’s regrets focus more on shame and self-blame. Where casual sex is done for the wrong reasons, it can lead to low moods instead of happiness. This is common in people who tend to value intimacy and views sex as something that happens after a relationship develops. You may feel as though you have missed a couple of steps to get to your ideal sexual satisfaction and that leaves you with a form of anxiety and depression. In the case that people confuse commitment and casual hook-ups, this may lead to a lack of emotional availability and a number of these people report feeling as though they have been used after having sex. This is mainly prevalent in women.”

People often aim to erase their feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety through such brief sexual encounters with people. Heartbreaks are a common cause that pushes an individual to find such momentary closeness. Other than that, alcohol and mild narcotics substances are said to only rage the fire within them. Youngsters and the current millennial generation are very impulsive and spontaneous. Their ode to having fun, cherish every moment and not have any regrets lie heavily on their conscience. Young people don’t see casual sex or hookups as detrimental to their mind and affect their mental well-being as a whole. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, acquaintances, family or even parents because even a little help can improve your mental well-being and help you find intimate and gratifying relationships with people without risking yourself to these short-term encounters.

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