Sex as a responsibility – part 4

Today is Part 4 in this series on sex as a privilege for which there are responsibilities, and I will focus on the social responsibilities. You can read the introduction in part 1, the physical responsibilities in part 2, and the relational responsibilities in part 3.

(As a side note, I am in the process of preparing the syllabus for a graduate course I will be teaching at the University of Texas this summer, and am trying to resist the urge to sound professor like. Please excuse me if I fail.)

Sex in all it’s forms is generally considered a private act. And really, those who prefer sex to be a public act can generally be put aside, because it is often hard enough for a teenager to gather the courage to be sexual in front of their sex partner, much less strangers in a voyeuristic context.

Nevertheless, the sexual relationship that teenagers choose to enter – or choose not to enter – are often critical to their social spheres. And so it is a very delicate balancing act for a teenager between allowing it to be known that they are engaging sexually with someone or not. And while it may seem harmless enough at the time to mention last night’s hook-up to a best friend, the results can spin out of control far more quickly than one might imagine.

What this means is that teenager lovers and sex partners must come to an agreement about who else can know about a sexual relationship. With the understanding that everyone needs someone to talk with outside of a relationship, but that those people must be chosen with attention.

This responsibility can be summed up nicely this way: You have a responsibility to attend to the gossip and social harm that might come to your sexual partners due to your words.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. i have been discussing this with my kids for some years now. trying to impress upon my daughter in particular the potential impact of any sexual encounters

    i asked her – even if you were to just flash a boy – even if you were doing the grade school “dating” thing – how long would it take for that news and a detailed description of whatever you flashed to be around the entire school?

    the social consequences would be enormous in being “talked about”. the “bad girl” stigma still exists

  2. Are you implying people can actually do keep secrets?

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