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(Oxford University Press), sociologist Mark Regnerus examines the impact the Pill, pornography, and online dating have had on marriage and relationships.
But even though they may be the vanguard, gays and lesbians have not remained alone in that.Can you envision a time when American sex and dating habits begin to mimic those in Japan, where many young people seem to have given up on relationships altogether? Japan is a rather different culture, with unique traditional pressures that have combined with the same modern mating-market dynamics that young adults everywhere feel.The answer to your question may hinge on how dependent Americans become on new sexual technologies—like sex robots or artificial intelligence that “learns” and talks back to us.Regnerus: Giddens held that gay and lesbian relationships were “in the vanguard of the pure relationship form,” which meant that their relationships would most clearly exhibit the traits of this new form of relating, and I see evidence of it in the higher number of gay partners, the shorter duration of relationships, and their greater proclivity toward sexual technologies like pornography.Bisexuality in particular seems to be a symptom of this shift—a state in which everyone is a potential partner.What is cheap sex, and how is it impacting relationships, sex, and marriage in the West?
Regnerus: Cheap sex is the reality that access to sexual experiences has gotten easier, or “cheaper,” over the past several decades.
It has speeded up how quickly relationships become sexual, slowed down the progress of those relationships toward marriage, and made many men and women less certain about the person they’re with.
CWR: What is the exchange relationship, and why do you describe it as “deeply human”?
From the book: “equality is its organizing principle, taste and emotion are its barometers, discovery is a key goal, and while the couple is the basic structure to the union, it is never to usurp the individual’s primacy and will.” It’s a relationship form and mentality that is inherently less stable than even the soul-mate model.
CWR: How are LGBT relationships the vanguard of the “pure relationship”?
Regnerus: Men and women seek to be in relationship with each other, but they tend to value different things and exhibit different strengths, desires, and resources—hence the need for an exchange relationship in which each person gives the other something they lack in trade for something they are seeking. More often than men, women’s sexual interests, as I say in the book, “include the affirmation of desirability, expressing and receiving love, the validation of worth, and fostering or reinforcing relationship commitment.