Sex, and the implications thereof, differ from culture to culture, from era to era, and from individual to individual. For most Americans, the notion that one should wait until marriage to have sex is uber conservative and outdated- even my parents and grandparents admit to having engaged in premarital sex.
While it does seem like the rules governing proper sexual conduct are loosening up and allowing today’s American youth (and the youth of citizens of virtually any relatively secular nation) to feel free to experiment sexually to a certain degree, it seems to me that, as a general rule, I find that from year to year, sex means less and less to teens of comparable ages.
I, along with a hefty portion of my peers- am comfortable ‘hooking up’ with platonic friends, casual acquaintances, and sometimes even girls whose names I never bother to learn. My mother, savvy to the sexual freedoms of teenagers in the 21st century, asked me recently “the way that you guys hook up so frequently- can sex ever be special for you?” The question took me aback, and made me reflect on my personal experiences with a medley of girls, in comparison to my now ex-girlfriend, who I loved. The notion never crossed my mind that sex can be two completely different things with two different people, though I was obviously familiar with that fact in a way that I never bothered to verbalize.
Intellectually, I feel conflicted. If, on mother’s day, I give every person I see on the street a dozen roses, and my mother sees me give all of these roses out, I’m sure she would not appreciate the flowers as much when I finally handed them to her. Contrarily, my grandmother gives me sloppy kisses on my lips (I chalk it up to poor depth perception)- the same sort of kiss would mean something entirely different to me if it were delivered by a girl who I was attracted to, and yet, something different from even that if it were delivered by I girl who I loved.
As with most things sexual, I tend to spend a lot of time analyzing, and then a lot of time trying to forget, because, ultimately, you hit a wall. There is no field guide to understanding problems of this nature, and ultimately, you have to just go with your gut and do whatever feels right to you.