If you watch reruns of your favorite 1950s-era sitcoms, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see married couples (who have children) be shown sleeping in separate beds. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to show two people who’ve just met share a passionate encounter in bed, against bathroom sinks of a restaurant, or in the backseat of a car. These types of physical interactions have become the norm to the point where it’s just not surprising anymore. In fact, we almost expect it.
But is that real life?
When it comes to the topics of Love and Sex in television, movies, music videos, and social media, there is both an unrealistic and unhealthy obsession with very contrasting messages.
What we hear and see about love:
True love is the final destination. Everything in life leads up to that moment of finding “the one.” Love can be quickly fallen into and out of. Love at first sight is natural and normal. Life isn’t complete if you aren’t in love. You have no control over who you love. Love should be all-consuming and magical. My partner bought me a new car because he loves me. It’s easy to say I Love You. It’s difficult to say I Love You.
What we hear and see about sex:
Sex is special. Sex can be treated like a recreational activity. Sex is on everyone’s minds all the time. Everyone your age is sexually active. Sex is magical and satisfying. Two attractive people will always end up in bed together. The more attractive you are, the more people want to sleep with you. Your body is an object of desire. Hookup culture is normal. You can’t sleep with someone and not develop feelings.
It’s no wonder we’re confused.
The media knows that sex sells, as does the story of a happily ever after. They show us what we think we should want. They successfully feed us scenarios and situations that feel like real life but are anything but.
And the more we absorb these subliminal messages, the more the lines between reality and fiction are blurred. We begin to expect that every sexual encounter should be exciting. We expect to feel the everlasting euphoria that comes with falling in love. We expect our lives to mirror what we see on TV and online.
So what happens when we don’t get what we want? We return to the temporary emotional and physical highs that technology can provide. As a result, people have the option to avoid real-world intimacy (both physical and emotional) and become increasingly dependent on media to satisfy their needs. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s the solution? Is it possible or realistic to expect the entertainment industry to backtrack (or at least portray in a more honest light) from topics that have been generating large amounts of money for years? Or is it the individual’s responsibility – to have open communication with their children, their peers, and their significant others about realistic boundaries and expectations involving sexual intimacy and love? Maybe it’s a little of both?
Let us know what you think. Do you think the media have blurred the lines between love and sex? Do you think they’ve cultivated a culture of unrealistic expectations? Leave your thoughts below.