Premarital Sex The Norm In Relationships

Ledger (Lakeland, Florida)

Life: Pg. D5
February 14, 2001, Wednesday

Premarital Sex The Norm In Relationships
Bill Dean

Krista Gold, 24, is in a serious relationship with her boyfriend Tim Payne, 26.

It involves sex, which is no secret, since they share an address in Auburndale. They are talking marriage, however: She received a “promise” ring from him for Christmas.

Gold, who has dated Payne for 10 months, says she discussed her decision to cohabitate with her mother.

“She pretty much looks at it that I wouldn’t be living with him if I wasn’t planning on getting married to him,” says Gold, who works as a hair stylist in Auburndale.

But she’s not so sure others of previous generations are as understanding of an arrangement that involves sex before marriage.

“Some parents are more understanding, because too many people are getting divorces too quickly,” Gold says.

“But not all parents, because of their tradition from their parents, or they think it’s not the right thing to do.”

The scenarios of how young singles meet may have changed. But the question — sex before marriage? — hasn’t.With popular TV shows like HBO’s “Sex and the City” that transmit the message that hordes of single women are having casual sex, many of today’s singles say sex before marriage has become more acceptable in society’s eyes.

Sherry Shapter, a 28-year-old manager for a staffing company in Lakeland, agrees that sex before marriage is now generally accepted, if not expected, by society, especially the longer one waits to get married.

“That’s the norm, although I still think the majority of the people you meet have very high moral standards and are not out just ‘hooking up,’ all the time,” she says.

Brian Strickland is a 31-year-old Bartow bachelor who has had serious relationships that involve sex.

Older generations, he says, are growing more accustomed to younger generations having pre-marital sex.

“I think they would expect it, and that’s why more and more parents, instead of talking about not having sex, are having discussions nowadays about protection,” he says. “They know it’s going to happen, and just hope that the kids will protect themselves.”

Sexologist and author Ava Cadell, author of “12 Steps to Everlasting Love” and “Love Around the House,” says many singles are now waiting longer to have sexual intercourse in relationships than in recent years.

“What’s going on is people are waiting longer to have intercourse, and they’re experimenting more with foreplay,” Cadell says.

“That’s a good thing; they’re getting to know each other, and they’re practicing a lot of safe-sex activities.”

A primary reason is fear of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, she says.

Josh Redd, a 25-year-old part-time student at Polk Community College and Southeastern College in Lakeland, has changed his view of premarital sex.

“I used to be among the wildest of the bunch,” he says. With one girl he dated a few years ago, he “pretty much slipped and led a promiscuous life,” he says.

Through that, he now has a 3-year-old daughter.

“I wanted to marry her, but she wasn’t ready,” Redd says. “She felt like she didn’t want to make another mistake. So eventually we lived together for a few years and basically just grew apart from each other.”

And not all singles are jumping into bed just yet.

Tasha Johnson, 21, and Ryan Chisholm, 22, have dated in Lakeland for a year and five months.

They’ve decided not to have sex until marriage. “He understands where I’m coming from. And he respects me,” Johnson says.Says Chisholm, a 22-year-old business student at the University of South Florida in Tampa: “You have to consciously tell yourself that’s for afterward; that’s part of the ceremony.

“You’ve got to keep your long term view, because it’s really easy to get caught up in the short term.”

Bill Dean can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7527.