It's the holiday season. Love is in the air and sex is in the news.
During the last several weeks, I've talked about studies showing that:
--40 percent of teenagers have sex before their parents talk to them about the birds and the bees.
--Sexually active young adults believe in planned pregnancy, but half of them don't use contraception consistently, and
--One in four between ages 14-19 have at least one sexually transmitted disease.
And, yes, I even used the Tiger Woods story as an opportunity to segue into a segment on sex addiction.
During the online chat, I expected to hear complaints from viewers who were offended by my use of the words "pornography" and "phone sex" in a morning news program when kids are watching. I also expected to get emails from parents asking questions about when and how to talk to their children about sex.
Instead, I got questions from women struggling with and asking for personal advice about their relationships.
Chatter: "I think my boyfriend has a sexual addiction. Here's the kicker - he's bi, and keeps wanting and having sex with guys on the side. Our biggest issue is whether this is cheating or not - something we can't agree on. He would never think of sleeping with another woman, only a man. What do you think?"
My Response: "You shouldn't feel that you have to negotiate on how you feel about fidelity. This is a core value. And, if it is as misaligned as it sounds, you may be in the wrong relationship."
The chatter abruptly dropped off. Another chatter who called herself Searching4Answers asked:
"My husband acted out a couple of years ago and I'm still trying to deal with it. He had sexual contact with anonymous males who pursued him online. He met with them and they performed acts on him but there was no intercourse. We are in couple’s therapy, but my husband wants everything to go away and not deal with the conflicts and problems. How do we repair our relationship?"
Her despair was palpable.
While the circumstances in these online conversations are somewhat extreme, the underlying theme is common: women (and sometimes, men) will make the relationship work at all costs.