Wisdom//

Not Every Person Fits the Mold

Let's become more accepting and less judgmental. We'll all be healthier, happier, and better off.

LanaSweet / Shutterstock
LanaSweet / Shutterstock

At the beginning of my book, I stressed that it’s our individuality that defines us as people, and in time we figure out who we truly are as sexual beings, even though we live in a society that tries its best to squeeze us all into the same mold regardless of what stage of life we’re in.

As I spend time listening to patients, I’m often struck by the way young people robotically choose life goals that follow a predetermined path toward marriage and children, often without considering what they personally might need to feel complete and happy. Too many women — and even some men — who don’t succeed in finding a mate or don’t get married by 30 tell me they are embarrassed, have become desperate, and feel like failures. Those who simply don’t aspire to marriage and family are viewed by society as pariahs — asexual or unwilling to admit they are gay.

All this may sound old-fashioned, but sadly it’s true even today. This may be why so many young people let a lukewarm relationship snowball into a wedding, followed too often by an unhappy, emotionally disappointing, and frustrating marriage. They do it because they’re afraid to let their families down, they’re ashamed and dread being viewed as different by the world around them, and they just don’t want to be alone in a society in which each person is expected to be part of a couple. This is a tragedy we must undo in our lifetime. 

Having listened to hundreds of patients who’ve shared with me the consequences of unwise and poorly thought-out choices, I must stress that this is your life, and:

No matter how much pressure you might feel from our culture, your family, and your friends, there are no guarantees that following the path of others will make you happy or even guarantee you a fulfilled life. There is no such thing as right or wrong in sexuality, intimate relationships, and personal life choices. To be successful, these things must be personal. I cannot stress enough the we are all unique, with unique needs.

As our society evolves, we must become more accepting and less judgmental. It is the kinder, better message that behooves a civilized society to live by.

Excerpt from The Intimacy Solution: Life Lessons in Sex and Love by Erika Schwartz, MD with permission from the author and publisher.

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