Thursday, November 14, 2013

More on Sex and Social Skills

When I'm asked to speak or answer email questions about sex, my first question is: "What about relationships? Friendship? Dating?" I don't understand the interest in "sex" without exploring the social skills that (typically) lead to sexual encounters.

My personal opinion, however old-fashioned, is that we should encourage relationships and the skills necessary to maintain those relationships. The challenge is that sexual activity has always and will always occur outside relationships, so we need to balance the need to educate students with the need to encourage more healthy interpersonal connections.

I've had autistic young people and adults tell me, "I want sex." What about relationships? "I don't know. Maybe. But I want sex."

It's hard to explain to a college student aware of "hook-ups" among peers that those casual sexual adventures are still complex social interactions. I hear my students talk about "friends with benefits" and "cuddle nights" with acquaintances. Certainly students with autism spectrum disorders see and hear the same conversations, and they see depictions of casual sex in the media.

I tried to explain to an autistic student that her friends having sex with their friends were still starting at the "friend" stage (to various degrees). The social skills of meeting, attracting, charming, and so on, are still necessary for most of these connections.

Yes, there are purely sexual encounters, but those are 1) risky and 2) still based on being attractive to someone.

Learning social skills, especially dating and attraction cues, is not easy. But, it seldom works that you can walk up to people and declare you want sex. People are taken aback by such a statement. (Studies do suggest that's more likely to work for women asking men for sex… because a high percentage of men will agree to sex with a stranger. But, these might not be the men you should approach.)

Too often "casual sex" leads to real, intense bonds for the students and adults I meet. They thought it would be a simple, physical act. Instead, the physical interaction triggered a bonding impulse. What seemed like a basic urge turns into a complex emotional event.

Develop friendships. Develop other social connections. Making the pursuit of sex a goal seldom ends well for anyone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Colds Stink

My wife and I have been battling colds. It's been a week since the first sign of a sore throat, and I am exhausted. It seems that every cold becomes something more.

Is my immune system in overdrive? Probably. Just as allergies are an overactive reaction by the body, my body fights colds and infections too aggressively.

Anyway, that's why I haven't blogged much even as life seemed to settle down a bit. As I gathered myself after the loss of my grandfather, I ended up sick.

Time for a nap.