What is the role of intimacy, sexuality, and love in the lives of people who are single? In thinking about this question, it is useful to consider the meanings of love, sex, and intimacy as they are portrayed and understood within a culture, and how they have differed across cultures and over time. What is the value and importance ascribed to sex-linked relationships, relative to other kinds of relationships? Are notions of intimacy linked to sex, such that relationships not involving sex, no matter how close, are not considered intimate? What are the norms and values attached to sexual behavior–with regard to types of behaviors, contexts, frequency, and types and numbers of partners--at particular times and places? What are the links between sexuality and identity? The answers to these questions are likely to be important to the ways in which the lives of people who are single are understood and valued or devalued.
What do we actually know about sexual attitudes, behaviors, and motivations in society, and among people varying in civil or relationship status? Are single people likely to be celibate, even if they are not committed to celibacy by religious beliefs or roles? If not celibate, are they less sexually active or less interested in sex than people who are married? Or are they likely to be more sexually active and interested?
Other relevant questions include: How do people present themselves when pursuing sex-linked relationships? By contemporary American ideals, marriages are sexually exclusive relationships; what are the actual rates and patterns of sexual infidelity? Do men and women differ in their sexual drives, motives, or behaviors?
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