THE inclination to “make love” is one of the inborn characteristics of humankind. You see this phase of human nature in all its various forms, extending all the way from a glance of the eye to the most extreme form of affectionate intimacy.
The habit of “falling in love” should begin early in life. When you hear of a boy or girl six or seven years of age having “fallen in love,” you are greatly amused ; and yet it is the beginning of a tendency which should not be discouraged. The practice of teasing boys and girls merely because they have found a source of at-traction in some one of the opposite sex should be avoided. In fact, such an inclination can be advantageously encouraged, for it is through the development of such instincts that boys become manly and girls develop into splendid women.
Such friendships have a tendency at least to take away the obscene nastiness with which prudery ery enshrouds all subjects associated with sex. Furthermore, the free and pure association of boys and girls at this age partly satisfies and makes more normal what might be called their “sex cravings.” There is no doubt that in many instances such associations help greatly to prevent the immoralities and abuses that begin with masturbation and often end with prostitution and marital excesses that destroy body, mind and soul. In fact, I am firmly of the opinion that masturbation in boys is caused, in some instances, by the separation of the sexes in school and else-where.
I am convinced that it is a mistake to segregate the sexes at any time in life, from childhood to the grave. They should be allowed to associate freely with each other. Wherever there is separation, in practically every instance various evils spring into existence. Man was made for woman; woman was made for man; and the more clearly and definitely this law of the Almighty is recognized and rigidly adhered to the more we shall secure from life. Life is only full, complete and satisfying in every detail when the innate desire for association with the opposite sex is completely satisfied. Let us therefore not condemn the innocent courtships of children; nor look too harshly upon the ardent love-making of youthful swains when no harm is intended.
To be sure, love-making of a too ardent sort be-fore marriage is often followed by evils of considerable significance. A lover’s kiss, for in-stance, if accompanied by ardent embraces, is sure to arouse the passions to a white heat, and when love-making of this sort takes place at frequent intervals, before marriage allows the natural intimacies which should follow such associations, there are frequently very serious results.
When there is a sincere and strong love and when marriage is definitely intended, very great care must be used to avoid stepping beyond what might be termed “the danger line.” If under such circumstances the lovers are left alone, as they frequently are, there comes a time when resistance to the natural impulses is almost impossible. It is well, therefore, for lovers to use the greatest degree of care to avoid overstepping the mark.
In extreme cases, when marital relations have preceded the legal union, the mistake has been regretted for years afterward. It has often made the husband mistrust his wife. It has sometimes made the prospective husband abandon the girl for whom he has lost respect, because she has yielded to him. It has often made a man feel after marriage that his wife is lacking in control, and that her loyalty could not be depended upon. We should remember, however, that it is the in-tense love between man and woman that constitutes the real marriage tie, and that every intimate relation of sex under normal conditions should strengthen this tie. If a woman loves a man with all the intensity of a strong nature, he should not condemn her throughout years of married life simply because she may have been unable to resist the temptations that come with too free love-making previous to marriage. The man is often much more to blame under such circumstances than the woman, and if there is any conventional tendency to applaud the man who breaks an engagement when his fiancee allows too much freedom it should be most emphatically condemned.
When a man comes to a woman representing that he loves her with all the intensity and ardor of his nature, when he offers to give her everything, should she be blamed if she takes him at his word, believes him to be honest and trusts him accordingly? This is an old, old story. Many lives have been blasted through mistakes of this character. When a man’s ardor cools and his respect for a, girl who makes a mistake of this sort disappears, he has not honestly and unselfishly loved her in the first instance. He is not a real man in the true sense.
There can be no doubt that the explanation of why girls first go wrong is usually to be found in this “playing with fire.” Too much “spooning,” involving continued kissing and close personal contact, is dangerous. Furthermore, the blind force of physical attraction may cause one to make a mistake in the choice of a wife, inasmuch as one is, under such circumstances, insensible to the mental, social and temperamental qualities of the other. If the association were largely mental and companionable, he would better understand her character and her suitability as a wife. But when the association is intimately personal, with too much physical contact, the passions thus aroused may lead him into a marriage that neither of the two would consider or desire under conditions of cold and sober judgment.
There is no reason why lovers should not be permitted a “good-night” kiss, and there is no occasion for frigidity of attitude or too much distance, but on the other hand to permit long periods of embracing is dangerous. A policy of “hands off” would mean better health and perhaps added respect each for the other.
But aside from such, considerations, the physiological results of too ardent love-making in the way of bodily harm are of special importance. Not only will the misguided young people suffer from the injury to the emotions due to unsatisfied sexual excitement, but they will have to contend with the weakening effect, of the congestion and inflammation of the organs concerned when passion has been aroused and then left ungratified. The results are serious in many instances. As for the young man, varicocele and more or less inflammation of the prostate gland naturally follow the congestion of the parts due to this practice. When extending over a period of months or years, it would tend to produce impotence or other sexual weaknesses. To the young woman, might come the congestion of the parts which would occasionally produce leucorrhea, possibly prolapses of the organs and often a train of other evils associated with the weaknesses of women. And do not forget that the emotion-strain involved in awakening passion when it cannot be satisfied is a powerful factor in many cases in bringing on neurasthenia. Bodily contact and intimate personal associations of this character, when carried too far, must be classified as among the most weakening of all sexual errors or abuses.