A-Musings:LOVE or LUST?

Believe it or not, the age of consent is usually defined as the age at which a person is legally considered competent to consent to sexual intercourse. It has been said that morals and morality are simply a matter of geography; i.e. what you are allowed to think and do depends on where you try to think and do it. It may well be that the question of what is right and what is wrong is much more complicated than that, but legal opinions as to the age of consent undoubtedly vary from place to place. In Saint Lucia, it might appear to some that age has nothing to do with it, it might even be part of the African Heritage. In Angola for example, according to statistics I collected some years ago, males were judged competent at the age of 12, while females had to wait till they were 15. Homosexual relationships were banned at any age. In Zimbabwe, girls had to wait until they were 16, but then, surprisingly, they could enter into a female-female relationship, while boy-on-boy remained taboo.

In Burkina Faso, 13 was the minimum age for every kind of relationship. Nigeria, too, approved of the 13 limit for heterosexuals whilst banning homosexuals. South Africa went for 16 across the board for all sexual couplings. Uganda made its eager teens wait until they were 18, and even then only for heterosexual forays. Rwanda opened the floodgates for all types of sexual pairings at the age of 18. In some countries, such as the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, Benin, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Zambia there was either no stipulated age of consent or people were expected to get married first. Interestingly, Chad, Madagascar, and Niger all agreed that marriage was a prerequisite for sex, unless you were a homosexual of any gender when the age limit was set at 21.

What’s the difference between Love and Sex? Come on, I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind at some stage in your life. Sometimes we might have romantic thoughts about someone without knowing why. Passion may simply be a primitive urge to mate; romantic attraction is perhaps distinct from sexual arousal. Who knows? But whatever it is, it can be a real bitch at times.

New couples often display increased energy but less need for sleep or food. They idealize their partner, magnify their virtues and dismiss their flaws. Friends and family may, however, form a different opinion of “the loved one.” Alienation might follow. A certain degree of idealization may be crucial to building a long-term relationship. Unless you choose to ignore some personal flaws, there’s a good chance you will end a relationship or not even start one.

Passion supports the first stage of courtship which quite often devotes itself to self-disclosure and interdependence. Passion might even survive the next stage of conflict, that of tension, doubts, arguments and soul-searching.

Then of course, we have the difference between Love and Being in Love. Consider all your friends; count the people you love, those you find sexually attractive and those with whom you are “in love.” The person with whom you are “in love” should appear in all three categories. Being “in love” is a powerful blend of friendship, affection and lust.

The speed at which early courtship moves along varies between fast and passionate, slow and doubtful, or simply in-between. Fast-track couples become interdependent within weeks; they tend to ignore or forget initial problems and are committed to a lasting partnership within several months. In contrast, slow-motion couples take years to reach a commitment.

Research seems to show that the more “deliberate” a courtship is, the greater the prospects are for a long marriage. Feelings of passionate love and infatuation often fade during the first year, and are soon all but gone. We make wrong choices all the time. The emotional fallout from a failed relationship is awful, but as any addict knows, the highs don’t last, but neither do the lows of withdrawal. Eventually, the brain returns to normal.

But sometimes, love-at-first-sight can work. I met my wife-to-be on September 10th; we became engaged less than two months later on November 4th ; we got married within three months or so on February 26th, and our first child, our daughter, popped up in August of the same year (yes, you can do the maths) – talk about a whirlwind romance. We really knew how to strike when the iron was hot in those days. Whoops! That’s kind of ambiguous, well, maybe not! This September will mark 50 years since we first set eyes on each other, which is not bad when you think about it!

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