Under pressure

Although+some+high+schoolers+may+relate+to+these+experiences%2C+according+to+the+Institute+for+Family+Studies%2C+fewer+than+40%25+of+American+high+schoolers+have+participated+in+sexual+intercourse.%C2%A0

Janine Gassel

Although some high schoolers may relate to these experiences, according to the Institute for Family Studies, fewer than 40% of American high schoolers have participated in sexual intercourse. 

When opening Tiktok, Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media, chances are it will be crowded with opinions on the latest episode of the HBO Max show “Euphoria.” The show features many sex scenes, including several hook ups, pool sex and even “doing it” virtually. Although some high schoolers may relate to these experiences, according to the Institute for Family Studies, fewer than 40% of American high schoolers have participated in sexual intercourse. 

Nevertheless, one KHS junior who hasn’t had sex said he still feels like the odd one out. He has yet to be in a relationship and is often made fun of for not having a girlfriend yet. He said he thinks high schoolers care too much about losing their virginity and finding a significant other.  

 “I don’t think [sex] is this deep emotional thing people go through,” he said. “It’s this thing you do that’s fun and feels good. I don’t think it should be treated like this huge monumental deal. The more you treat it like that, the more pressure it places on people to get laid. If we just treat it like a normal thing and teach better sex education, it would be less taboo.”

Currently, he said it feels like there is a lot of stigma around people who haven’t had sex. Because his friends often make jokes about him “not getting any girls,” he said he feels like his classmates judge him or see him as “less of a man.” He chose to be anonymous in this article because he was worried of being ridiculed due to that stigma. 

“Especially for younger men, there is a lot of pressure to get a girlfriend to show how cool you are,” he said. “It’s almost like [people] don’t even treat girlfriends as people, but as accessories that make you cooler, more worthwhile [and] more of a man.”

It’s almost like [people] don’t even treat girlfriends as people, but as accessories that make you cooler”

— KHS junior

John Bytnar, Saint Louis University High School (SLUH) junior, however, said even with the social pressure to have sex, he’s chosen to abstain from it. But before he made this decision, Bytnar was in several relationships where he said the expectation of sex led them toward failure. Even though Bytnar’s second partner was abstaining from sex, he said that at the time, he saw sex as something he could eventually reach with them, causing him to lose sight of the emotional connection. He had similar experiences in later relationships as well.

“Sophomore year was the big wake up call,” Bytnar said. “[My partner and I] never [had sex], but there were a lot of steps that led up to it. I started to realize I didn’t love them, I just wanted them because they made me feel good. That ended up with me breaking up with them. Looking back, I realize I didn’t love them because I never gave myself the chance to.”

After his experience in these relationships and through the influence of being Roman Catholic, Bytnar said he changed his view on sex. Since then, Bytnar has chosen abstinence. He said not only does choosing not to have sex relieve the stress of possible pregnancy scares or STDs, but that he believes it can make relationships more meaningful. 

“You know they’re not just seeing you for the pleasure you can give them, but as the person you are and the person you can be with them,” Bytnar said. “[You know] it’s more than your body. It’s one of the biggest signs someone really loves you.”

Looking back, I realize I didn’t love them because I never gave myself the chance to.”

— John Bytnar

Another KHS junior said she is choosing not to have sex primarily because of her Christianity. Several books in the Bible, such as 1 Corinthians and Ephesians, imply to wait until marriage to have sex because the act of sex or becoming “one flesh” is considered sacred. But she said she also wants to wait until marriage for personal reasons, including avoiding the stress of a possible pregnancy, but also because she said she wants to save that connection for a relationship she knows is permanent. 

“[Sex] creates a bond that is not easily broken,” she said. “[It creates] a stronger relationship when you are married to your husband or wife. It’s a special moment you get to share with them that you’ve never had with anyone else.”

Although she doesn’t discuss her decision with many people, she has experienced people keeping their distance from her due to her beliefs. She said sometimes after people find out she’s a Christian, they assume she’s going to push her beliefs on them, when in reality she respects all people’s life decisions.

“I think I can come off judgmental, like I judge other people who have had sex before marriage, which is not at all the case,” she said. “I can see how it could come across that way, but it’s a separate decision that I’ve made to myself and my future spouse.”