Monday, July 11, 2011

A Response to a Critique on Open Marriage

 Closing the Book on Open Marriage by W. Bradford Wilcox

The Open Marriage, by Nena and George O’Neill, was published in 1972, as the sexual revolution gathered steam in America. The best-selling book encouraged spouses to “to strip marriage of its antiquated ideals” and, most famously in one chapter, to explore sexual partnerships outside their marriage, if they so desired. 

This is true. However, as the Wikipedia article (which Wilcox provides as a source) describes, the concepts of sexual partnerships outside of marriage  "entered the cultural consciousness and the term "open marriage" became a synonym for sexually non-monogamous marriage, much to the regret of the O'Neills. In the 1977 publication of The Marriage Premise, Nena O'Neill advocated sexual fidelity in the chapter of that name." Even though the writers did touch upon the idea, they didn't necessarily believe that this mode of marriage was the best one for everyone, only perhaps for some.

Fortunately, the book has since come to be seen as an antiquated relic of the Me Decade, when all too many men and women put their own desires—in the sexual arena, as in so many other arenas—ahead of the needs of their spouse, their marriage, and their children. While swinging may have seemed reasonable to some at the height of the sexual revolution, many couples and the vast majority of Americans have since turned away from the idea. Source, please. 

In fact, notwithstanding the recent marital misbehavior of athletes, actors, and politicians, public tolerance for marital infidelity has fallen since the 1970s, with fully 79 percent of American adults now saying that infidelity is“always wrong.”  Okay, okay, hold up. Infidelity is one thing and having an open marriage is another. Infidelity does not mean having sex outside of a relationship. Infidelity means that, usually, one is having sex outside of a relationship without the consent of one's partner. It requires no communication and no honesty. If you and your partner are in agreement that one or both of you will have sexual and/or romantic relations outside of the relationship/marriage, then that is not infidelity and that is not cheating. Second of all, the link provided has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity. Moreover, recent research from the National Marriage Project indicates that infidelity has also declined in recent years to the point where just 16 percent of married men and 10 percent of married women now report that they have been unfaithful. Key word is "report". Yes, there are a large amount of those who are cheating on their spouses who don't report that fact. I'd also like to see this recent research and how the survey was directed. So, clearly, in contemporary America that vast majority of couples reject infidelity in theory and practice. I'm not sure how true this is, but even so, that has absolutely nothing to do with open marriage. Again infidelity does not equal consentual agreement of having sex outside of the marriage. The former requires no consent and no knowledge of such an action and the latter requires both consent and knowledge. See the difference?

Unfortunately, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage and academic apologists for open marriage would like to turn back the clock to this dark chapter in American marital history. Dark chapter? Are you serious? Tell me, what's the divorce rate today? Savage, who got a big plug in a recent The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, argues for a more “realistic” marital ethic that makes a place for nonmonogamy for some couples (so long as both parties consent), and is more forgiving of the occasional affair. Again, affair is a term that is linked with infidelity. There is no such thing as an affair in an open relationship unless the sexual possibility was not discussed beforehand. In his view, “we’re not wired for monogamy,” some spouses can actually enrich their marriage by spicing up their sex or emotional lives with an extramarital relationship, and a one-size-fits-all sexual ethic cannot begin to cover the variability of human sexual desire. I agree with Savage. Some people are monogamous, some are not. That is totally fine and we should have relationships in which we are happy, not constricted by societal or personal restrictions. 

By the way, the article linked above is actually a pretty good read. 

Savage-style love has also been getting a pass from some progressive family scholars. Family sociologist Judith Stacey signaled her basic agreement with Savage’s philosophy in the Times profile: “What integrity means for me is we shouldn’t impose a single vow of monogamy as a superior standard for all relationships.” And in a recent New York Press article, family historian Stephanie Coontz said “nonmonogamy” is “one of the ways that some people may handle the pressures of a world where people want partnerships but live long lives and have frequent opportunities.”

So, what is the problem with a little “nonmonogamy” in marriage, so long as everyone is open and honest about it? There are at least five problems with open marriage.

1. Even today, sex often results in pregnancy. In the heat of the moment, couples do not always use contraception. And for those who do, more than 10 percent of women aged 15-44 engaging in “typical use” contraception get pregnant over the course of a year, according to a recent Guttmacher Institute study. So, open marriages pose a real risk that children will be born without the benefit of two, married parents. Of course it does. Any kind of sexual relationship in which one doesn't use contraceptives (or even if one does) carries the risk of producing something living within the womb of the woman. This doesn't just include open marriages or relationships though, this also includes monogamous marriages as well as monogamous relationships, especially if there is sexual infidelity involved. That's why it's important to always use the contraceptive, yes? I promise you that somebody who uses protection in an open marriage is less likely to have surprises than somebody who doesn't in a monogamous marriage. As a further thought, only because you are in an open relationship does not necessarily mean that you have more sexual partners than someone who is in a monogamous relationship. Ever heard of serial monogamy? It depends completely on the person's willingness to use the correct protection and how many partners one decides to have.

As an aside, what does it matter if a baby is born without two married parents? I thought American society was over the issue of having a child out of wedlock. A child can be raised very well by parents who have not been married. 


2. Monogamous, married sex is more likely to deliver long-lasting satisfaction than the quick thrill offered by infidelity.Again, open marriage does not equal infidelity. I don't understand how Wilcox can come to this conclusion when the very definition of open marriage is "a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity"According to the renowned University of Chicago Sex Survey, a “monogamous sexual partnership embedded in a formal marriage evidently produces the greatest satisfaction and pleasure.” This study found that both women and men like the emotional security that fidelity affords, and are more likely to report that they are “anxious,” “scared,” and “guilty” when they have had sex with multiple partners in the last year. It would help if the link provided was of the actual results rather than the abstract of the study. It would also help if there were a study that isn't about 20 years old. Until the proper link is provided, I will disbelieve this point. 

3.People often do not realize what they are really consenting to when it comes to open marriage. Absolutely untrue to a degree of complete bullshit I don't even know how to react to. People do know exactly what they're getting into when it comes to an open marriage. People know exactly what an open marriage is and if they don't, they can look it up quite easily. What may be a bit more confusing is what a marriage is in the first place because it seems that nowadays, people have different definitions of it. But open ones are quite clear. If you are married to someone and you do not realize what you are consenting to when you say 'yes' to open marriage, then you're absolutely, undeniably stupid. Sexual relationships require some combination of time, money, and emotional effort. No, actually that would be a romantic relationship. The only thing that a sexual relationship requires of you is time. If money is included, you're going to a prostitute for her services, and if emotional effort is required, that's not simply sexual, that's also a bit more romantic. Efforts devoted to an outside partner can detract from efforts to invest in your spouse. Again, absolutely not. How much effort are you putting into an outside partner? How much time are you spending with your one-night stand? The only effort you need to put into that partner is a penis/vagina/both/fingers/tongue/insertable object, and that takes at the very most several hours and at the very least several seconds. Don't tell me you'd be paying attention more closely to your spouse in those several seconds of premature ejaculation. Women who have sex with multiple partners are significantly more likely to end up depressed than women who do not. Please, give me the source! This statement is so incredibly sexist. Wilcox assumes that (all) women cannot deal with the emotional and sexual consequences of having more than one partner because of their, I assume, inability to cope with no-strings-attached sex. Let me tell you, from a woman's point a view, that I am actually happier having sex with multiple partners than with only one. And, because sex is an emotionally bonding experience for many (but not all), extramarital sex can easily lead to the breakup of an existing marriage, even when all parties go into the situation with their eyes open. Okay, here's the deal. If you view sex as an emotionally bonding experience and you cannot have no-strings-attached sex, then an open marriage or even an open relationship, or possibly even a polyamorous relationship, is not for you. You are free to be in your monogamous marriage all you'd like. HOWEVER. For those who are okay with romantic-free sex, their relationships are not likely to crumble because of that. If you are okay with something, you are okay with it. If you aren't, you aren't, and you will have issues with the situation if you pretend that you are. That is not the relationship's fault, that is your fault for not being honest with your partner and yourself. If you go into something with your eyes open and then later change your mind and see that you are not okay with the idea, that's perfectly fine. In that case, you should speak with your partner and if your marriage fails because of that, it's because you and your spouse were not compatible, not because the institution of marriage is flawed. The institution is rarely flawed, it is the people in the institution who fuck up that are flawed. 

4. Swinging increases your risk of acquiring a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). One of the best predictors of acquiring an STD is having sex with multiple partners, which is precisely what swinging is all about. Note here also that even consistent condom use often does not protect against STDs that are passed through genital skin to skin contact, such as herpes, HPV, and chancroid. Yes, of course. You know, however, how that can be avoided? Checking that your potential sex partner has no STDs. Sound simple? Betya it is. Problem solved, not a problem anymore. 

5. Open marriages put children at riskThis is the general website, this is not the source. Children are markedly more likely to be physically, emotionally, and especially sexually abused when they are exposed to a revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home, according to a recent federal report on child abuse. I'd love to see the source on that too though I don't doubt it. However, the statement is a bit wrong. "Romantic" partners are not necessarily "sexual" partners. Now Wilcox is stepping into the category of polyamorous marriages. I'd also like to say something about parenting. If your child gets abused because you were not careful who you were having sex (or a relationship) with, then that's your fault, that's not the fault of the institution. You are a bad parent and you should choose your partners more carefully. I'd also like to note that a divorced parent also fits the description of having a "revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home", but Wilcox is not raging against them. And we know nothing of the emotional impact on children of being exposed to open infidelity on the part of their parents. The words "open" and "infidelity" cannot exist within the same sentence. If we know nothing of the emotional impact on children then maybe we should shut the fuck up about it, pardon my French. Actually, I have a feeling, that if children were exposed to more liberal and open, honest relationships between their parents and adults they knew, they would grow up to be much more healthy sexual and emotional people. If you are honest with your relationships and your children about those relationships, I do not see how that could hurt the child. 

And here, for the benefit, a link: www.lovemore.com/articles/thinkkids.php

When it comes to marriage, one of the few bright spots to emerge over the last forty years is increasing public support for sexual fidelity—in both theory and practice. Indeed, social science tells us that married couples who remain faithful to one another enjoy higher-quality marriages, lower rates of divorce, and, yes, higher levels of emotional satisfaction with their sex life. Again, I'd love to see the source on this. Now, Wilcox is throwing around the word "faithful". Faithful means whatever the couple wants it to mean. Every couple has its own set of rules. Having sex outside of a relationship for one may not be deemed unfaithful, but for another, it may. The rules change with each different relationship. Sexual fidelity also increases the odds that children are born into and reared in a stable, two-parent home. Wilcox stresses the 'two parent' thing. Does this mean that divorced parents, or one parent rearing the child offer instability within the child's life? Because I can testify to that being utter bullshit. I do agree that both female and male presences allow for the child to have a more rounded emotional well being, but this does not require two married parents, two parents living together, only two parents, or two parents of heterosexual inclinations. Females and males can be included in the child's life through the appearances of friends, parents who see their children frequently, family, different partners, etc. and all of the options I have mentioned can be as or even more loving than the "missing" parent. There are plenty of children who have had emotional, mental, sexual, verbal abuse directed toward them in their household with two parents. 

For all these reasons, and even though Savage is right to point out that fidelity can be a difficult virtue to live, turning the clock back to the swinging seventies is a stupid idea. Better for the sake of adults, children, and marriage as an institution to keep the book closed on open marriage.

No. Just no. The permeating issues in this article were:

1. Infidelity does not equal open marriage or relationship. As I said before, infidelity means no honesty or communication or consent, whereas an open marriage requires complete honesty, communication, and consent.
2. No reasonable sources.
3. Blanket statements. Not everyone is the same. Not all women are happy with romantic sex. Not everyone is happier in a monogamous marriage. Not everyone, not everyone, not everyone.
4. The issue I had most with this article and with all articles like these, is everyone's needs and desires in the love world are different. Why can't you just leave everybody alone to do their own thing if it's consentual and it doesn't hurt anyone? STDs, pregnancy, and abuse of children can happen quite well in monogamous relationships and in absolutely no relationships at all. It all depends on how you yourself pick your partners and how you yourself raise your child. It's all based on you and the responsibility is all yours to not get riddled with STDs or riddle anyone with them, get pregnant (or get someone else pregnant), and take good care of your child. Yes, accidents do happen but with protection, carefulness, asking people to show you their STD tests, and being honest, open, and good with yourself, your partner, and your child, most of these issues can be easily solved. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

reality

We already live in the matrix. We will never really know the real thing, only the perception of the real thing, and that is how we define it. All of our perceptions of reality come through our senses. We see, we smell, we touch things and our thoughts are also part of our senses. We cannot interact with this world except through them. We must say that reality comes from within, within our thoughts and our brains. 

And this reality, it is patterns and stability. We walk into the room today and we see the table in the middle of the floor on the same old faded carpet we saw yesterday. And we will walk into the room tomorrow and see the same objects. And we will touch them and smell them and taste them and we will register that the table smells of wood and it tastes of cold and a singular bitterness. We will see the fibers and the colours of the carpets and we sill sit and run our hands across the leather sofas and feel softness. 

Yet what makes these objects more real than our dreams? For we can reconstruct dreams over and over again also, night after night, going through the same streets and feeling the rain on our skin, panting and feeling fear. We can touch the sweet grass underneath our bodies and see the blue, blue sky over us and close our eyes. But we cannot share them with others like we can with our rooms and our gravity. We cannot say to others Look, here is the table and carpet and couch for they will not and cannot see. We cannot share the rules of the dream world with others because there are no rules to share. When we run toward the walls, we go through them, right through yet when we open our eyes, when we approach the wall, we come back bloodied and pained. Over and over again, without fail. Reality does not end, it keeps on going, keeps on controlling you. When you jump off a building, you die, you do not keep on falling, for there is always an end to the height. Only those things that never end, never cease to be are illusory. 

And yet, the lives we live are not strictly real, for we are blinded by the visors of perception. Instead, we converge closer and closer to a point, or a limit, to that ideal absolute reality we so much desire to find. With time, with knowledge, we inch further and whether we ever do reach that magic number is only to be seen. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

airplanes

It was the night that he went missing and you called me at 2 a.m., high on legal grade ex, spewing out your heart to me, telling me that you wanted to be with me, that I was what made you sane, asking if I was willing to give you another try. I whispered that I'd think about it and tell you in the morning and hesitantly whispered I love you after you so easily said it first. I couldn't go to sleep after that and so I looked outside, hand lifting my head toward the windowsill, wondering how your body would feel next to mine, how your lips would taste, how my hands would curve around your breasts, hips, and legs. I decided I would very much like to know those parts of you and to explore you with all my senses, but that was not the problem that kept me awake. Neither was it that I was almost positively sure that a relationship would you would end up deep in the ground, like the first and the second and the third times had. 

It was the lack of airplanes in the sky. Every night for the past two weeks I had been here in this faraway state in which strangers would look at me strangely as I sang along to my iPod, walking the streets in the scorching heat at midday. The days were filled with constantly checking my internet sites, and reading, and writing, and going out to bring in the mail while looking out at the street, where rabbits hopped in real (not that synthetic, scratchy shit we had back home), soft grass. The nights though, were filled with staring up at the ceiling, listening to classic rock and dubstep, naked underneath the covers, watching the airplanes cross the sky every several minutes. 

I've never felt more safe than when I'm in an airplane, flying alone to some destination several hours away. Whether it's only two or twelve hours, the flying behemoth is my sanctuary for that duration of time. In the middle of the sky, suspended between time zones and countries, only clouds so sculpted you'd think they could hold you up above and beneath you, there's a certain peace that you feel deep within you. Your worries, your fears, your hopes, your thoughts all melt away as your brain switches off and you listen to music, read a book, watch a movie, eat airplane food. Even if you talk to the one sitting beside you, the conversation is simple, for you know you will probably never see that person again in several hours. You are truly alone in that tiny, cramped space that you have to call your own, near the window aisle or stuck in the middle between a crying baby and an obese person. But that seat, small as it is, is your own for these few moments and you claim it, fight off the screams of the child and the sprawling flesh and you come up, victorious, sweating and annoyed, filling your seat and leaning back your chair to avoid forehead contact with the one in front of you. It is the only place where I can truly meditate, legs crossed, watching Fight Club, or listening to Bob Dylan drone about basements and medicine. In those hours, nobody and nothing matters, not even I matter and the world is all right once again. 

And so, that night, straining my ears and eyes for the flickering lights and rumble, I knew, in the pit of my stomach, that I would not hear from him in a while and sighing, I texted you OK, and crossed my arms, waiting for the Sandman to pour his grains over my body and let me in peace.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Age of Ecstasy

Disclaimer: This post does not have to do with those who do not do drugs, or who do drugs infrequently. This also does not have to do with those who read the news and who are quite aware of their country's state of affairs. This post has to do with frequent ecstasy (and other entactogens) users (who are using the substances for recreational purposes rather than medical ones), however this is not a post bashing those specific drugs. 

Every generation seems to indulge in several drugs that for that time period become popular. The 60s had LSD, shrooms, mescaline, and speed; the 70s had cocaine and heroine; the 80s had crack; and the 90s had ecstasy and methamphetamine. This generation seems to not only use the drugs mentioned above (and marijuana) but also new designer drugs that are created by usually modifying the molecular structure of an already existing drug in order to get past drug laws. The popularity of certain drugs within a generation usually show the mindset and social attitude of that time period, and the 2000s are no different.

Several months ago, my friend came up with the idea that we are the ecstasy generation. Though I don't necessarily believe that our generation's drug of choice is ecstasy, its use is still widely prevalent throughout the United States in raves. The drug first became popular in the 1980s, its use increased throughout the years and the world and nowadays, it can be seen taken mostly in party settings. Though its usage has decreased slightly because of the production of substitutes such as mephedrone, the stimulant entactogen (drugs that make you feel more sociable, touchy-feely, and empathetic) component is what makes this type of drug so popular, especially today. (From now on, I will refer to all entactogens in this post simply as ecstasy, for brevity's sake.)

So the question is, why do we like these kinds of drugs so much? (By 'we', I mean those who use them frequently) Why do we get hooked on drugs that make us stimulated, that allow us to be more empathetic, to socially connect with others easily, and that allow us to be uninhibited by our fears? The surface answer is obvious: who wouldn't want to feel like that? The deeper answer is a bit more complicated. The other reason why we would be so enamoured by a drug like that is if we couldn't behave those ways while sober. What's the point of taking something if it makes you do the exact same thing while sober? If you could interact well with others and be open and not feel inhibited and awkward normally, there would be no reason to take ecstasy over and over again, unless it would be purely for the heightened senses and hyperactivity. It's hard to believe though, that most long-term users would state the former effects as their primary cause for taking the drug, so I'll assume that the basis for ecstasy's popularity is its entactogenic qualities.

There are three main reasons why ecstasy is so popular among today's generation: the failure of physical communication,apathy, and a pervading, deep depression.

Before the 21st century, people had more difficulty travelling and communicating. In olden times, the means of transportation were mostly boat and horses and communication was either done by writing letters or by physically speaking. These methods were all painfully slow but the beauty of them was that people actually maintained relationships with each other. A boat trip lasted weeks to months or years, and travellers could meet new people and communicate with them in no hurry. Letters took weeks to be received and though people one hundred years ago probably didn't have more to talk about than we do now, they had more time to go through and tell about. Nowadays, we have planes, cars, IMs, text messaging, phones, Skype, AIM, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a ton other devices that are supposed to make communication easier. And they do. It's now more convenient to talk to someone in China when you live in the United States than it was fifty years ago. The problem isn't necessarily communication (although the depth of the conversations could be debatable), it's that we don't actually hang out with people anymore. We prefer to sit behind our computers and video chat our friends than physically get off our couches and go outside to play soccer, or go watch a movie at a movie theatre, or go to a park, or a museum, or read, or interact with others and not be separated by a screen and text. It's hard to talk face-to-face with someone else because then, they can see your emotions, your sarcasm, your eyes. It's harder to tell them your secrets if they're looking at you and judging you for them. It's harder to walk to the nearest DVD rental store than to log into your Netflix account or wait until the DVDs come to your door.

Of course, people still go to coffee places, parties, clubs, and raves and get to meet people that way. But how many actually go up to a complete stranger in Starbucks and begin a conversation with them? How many people at raves develop friendships (not hookups) with those that they are dancing with? With all of the opportunities technology has given us, there is no reason why we shouldn't be meeting new people and actually developing relationships with them instead of adding them on Facebook and forgetting them along with the other 500 people we're "friends" with. Before, we had the excuse of distance and inability, but now our only excuse is ourselves and our lack of desire to connect. Even if we do go out and talk to others, we're awkward and nervous. We're afraid of rejection and we don't know what to say. So why not take something that wipes all those fears and insecurities away? Why not take a pill that will make us more confident and sociable and that will allow us to be more connected and empathetic with others?

The second issue is apathy. Before the 21st century, the majority of the United States (and the world) were living in order to survive. People had to worry about their next meal, clean water, whether they were going to have a roof over their heads during the night, whether they could survive, whether their children could survive. Even after this mentality disappeared in the more developed countries, there were still threats of the two world wars, of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and economic recession. That's not to say that there aren't still wars going on or that there isn't a recession, but it seems that most of my generation doesn't realize that. People were more involved in those times because they had no choice but to be involved--if they weren't, either they or a member of their family or a close friend died and their lives would change monumentally. There's more distance today between wars that our governments are involved in and ourselves. Other than taxes, gas, and food prices shifting, we don't notice much else that changes. Social unrest comes more from internal issues such as domestic shootings rather than external ones. There are wars being fought, but they're not here, they're over there, somewhere very far and distant. I've also noticed that I have never actually learned anywhere, either in school or from other sources, an account of the United States history from the mid 1970s to the present. Ignorance may be a major cause of my peers' apathy.

Even if we're not more apathetic about our external surroundings than past generations, we certainly seem to be more apathetic about ourselves and our own lives. By "apathy", I don't just mean not caring about anything, I mean such a deep apathy that we believe our lives are so meaningless and boring that we sink into depression. To quote Brad Pitt from Fight Club,

"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact."

It's not news that there has been an increase in depression for the past fifty years in the United States. I personally know a large number of people who do drugs just to escape reality and who are so eager to do so that they refuse to know what exactly they're taking, as long as they don't have to deal with this world. Some of them do it because they think their life is meaningless and boring and nothing exciting is ever going to happen (and if they do go to interact with others, they still believe that's boring too). Some do it because they are so disgusted by what they see around them, that they just want to escape and forget about it. And that is an extremely painful and sad thing to experience, because in a way the latter users are right. We, who are privileged, can look at those who are not and we can see how much poverty, misery, cruelty, and unfairness exists in this world, solely because of ourselves, humans. There is an unbelievable amount of horribleness that we face right now, and even more in certain cases, in the decades and centuries to come.

One can say that even twenty or fifty years ago, this was the case, that the world was more horrible then than it is now with all of our technological and scientific advances. And in those times, people used ways to forget and escape reality also--they used numbing agents such as alcohol and opium. People use them and others, such as prescription drugs, today even more so than before to numb the pain, but it seems that those agents are a constant. People have always drank their suffering away, they have always searched for a substance to dull the agony. Entactogens, on the other hand, have only been produced recently, and those manufacturers are catering to today's desires and needs. Of course, alcohol and psychedelics are also entactogenic, but they are not made to be so. If you feel lovey toward someone else, or sociable, those are simple side effects, whereas ecstasy is purposefully created to allow people to feel that way. Either way, the above reasons are perfectly good reasons to want to escape reality but they are also the most dangerous.

Ecstasy makes you feel incredible. It allows you to have in-depth social connections with others that otherwise you would not have achieved, if you are a shy, awkward, nervous person. It makes you excited and allows you to enjoy music more, makes you want to dance and talk with others. It allows you to forget about your shitty existence for several hours and just have fun and be joyful. And on the surface, that's really great. But there's a difference between doing a drug several times and doing a drug frequently and intensely. It doesn't matter what drug you take, if you take it long enough and immensely, there will be long-term negative consequences, such as addiction (not for psychedelics), memory and cognitive impairment, organ damage, and emotional issues. For ecstasy, liver damage and concentration and memory impairment are certain if you do it too much.  There have also been a number of users who have become clinically depressed while they were still using the drug or after they stopped but this study was countered by other scientists claiming that it was unconvincing due to methodological errors (though there is evidence that those who use ecstasy and other drugs have higher symptoms of depression than those who do not). In addition, there's the study that shows MDMA reduces the amount of serotonin transporters (basically kills your joy receptors for a period of time) in animals, yet these kinds of experiments on humans have not been pursued. There have not been enough studies done to pinpoint exactly what the drug's long-term effects are other than organ damage, addiction, tolerance, concentration impairment, memory loss, and possible mental health issues.

Even if there are no or few negative long-term effects of using the drug, I'd like to address a serious issue that comes from not only doing ecstasy but any other drug as well because of the desire to escape reality in a negative way, namely to escape it because it's too painful. Reality is here and it's not vanishing. It will always be here and you either have to come back to it or you need to stay in another world. That other world can be provided by drugs, sleep, or death. Unfortunately, you cannot sleep forever, unless you're in a coma and drugs do not last a lifetime, they last several hours to several days, at the most. If you want to bar reality, you must continuously do them and cross the line, which eventually, all drug users must decide whether to cross or not. The line I'm talking about is the line between reality and the world that drugs can give you. When I was talking to my friend about this, she said that there's no hopping the line. You either stay on one side or stay on the other, you either stay sober or you delve into the drug world and if you can, you get out and (try to) stay sober. You cannot put one foot in one world and one foot in the other and think that it will be okay. Personally, I don't know if I believe that and I don't know if it must be that way. I hope that moderation is the key to drug use and that if you do your drugs responsibly and not viciously, that you can inhabit both worlds and comfortably. But what I do know is that if you don't do that, you will certainly come up with mental health issues. There is only a certain amount of time that you can hate reality and try to escape from it before you go down in flames or you straighten up.

People will always do drugs for different reasons. The issue is not that they do the drug, it's the reason for why they do it. It's like jealousy--it's not the problem, it's only the symptom of the problem. Ecstasy and entactogens in themselves are positive substances for those who do not abuse them, but for those who do, they are propagators of a vicious cycle which only they can stop. So, the reasons for frequent ecstasy use are the inability to physically communicate, apathy in the form of not caring/boredom, and depression with one's surroundings and with reality. So now the most important question is, other than drugs, how do we solve these problems?

The issue with communication is not that we're not empathetic. We are extremely empathetic and we can communicate, we even desire to do so. We love using Facebook, phones, texting, etc. Most of our lives seem to be based on keeping in touch with others and being social. But we're insecure with ourselves and our abilities to reach out and meet new people. We hide behind computer screens and we're afraid that we'll be judged and rejected by those outside our front door. But the thing is, we probably won't. There's not much rejection to fear when you're meeting new people--in fact, more rejection comes from you than from others. You decide which people to keep in your life (to an extent) and so if you meet someone who doesn't appeal to you, you can cut them out. We need to dig a bit into ourselves and understand why we're so afraid of being judged and rejected, why we're so insecure with others and if those fears are founded. It's true that once one gets to know another better, emotional attachment can complicate a relationship, but not necessarily in a bad way. If one has trust issues, one must analyse the reasons and decide whether it is reasonable to be so fearful, and what one could potentially gain from developing new relationships from people. We must take our hearts into our mouths and just push head forward and hope for the best. We may be surprised with what we find.

For those who constantly whine about their lives being boring and being bored, I first asked myself how someone could get to the point of complete apathy. Not caring comes from lack of motivation--if you have motivation to do something, or even be interested in something, you will care. Your mind will be occupied and what's more important, you'll have fun and you won't think your life's that uninteresting anymore. So, where did the motivation go? I think that it's both inherent and learned, that you're born with a little bit of motivation (human nature) and that that either develops and grows or gets cut down by your surroundings. The lack of motivation comes from a lack of response to your earlier needs (like attention) as a child. For example, if a child is left alone the entire day while his parents go off to work or if he is given negative attention instead may start him on the road to apathy. Once he is old enough to go to school, he may already be de-motivated or the abominable United States public education school system may do that instead. Obviously, one needs to have Once the deed is done, how can you put motivation back into a person? By talking to several friends and asking their opinions, we concluded several solutions:

The first involves the support of one's friends--you acknowledge them as a person; repeat the mantra that they're worthy and not boring, that they're capable of doing and doing well; you encourage them and hold their hand when they falter, give them a push when they slide back. On the other hand, the friends are not going to make you believe all of that, only you can. You have to believe in yourself, you have to gain that self-respect back, to get going at least for a little while. Ultimately, it's up to you. Everyone is worthy of love and support, everyone is worthy of being happy, worthy of living a life that meets up to one's highest standards--unless one denies those rights to someone else.

The second solution is fighting the thought of boredom. We can control what we think and what our mindset is in certain situations. For example, we can rethink our simple moods--we can decide to be happy instead of sad, or we can convince ourselves of a certain idea that we may not believe but is true ("He's not cheating on me even though I'm afraid he is") by logically going through the concept over and over again until we believe it. We can resign ourselves to being bored and believe everything else around is boring or we can find something and try to see if we enjoy it. We can pick up a new sport, or play an instrument, read for a while, or talk to a friend about something we've never considered. We can keep ourselves busy until we find something we truly enjoy. Boredom is only there if we decide it to be there.

The third solution is a bit harsher--in order to realize what's meaningful to you and in order to care, you must crash. You must have those things that you take for granted taken away from you and crawl out of hell on hands and feet and perhaps that effort will make you realize what is truly important for you. Some people never understand unless they are put in a position in which they must change their mindset or else they risk ruining their lives.

The third type of people are those who are depressed because of what they see going around them.
The fact still stands that even though there are events in this world that happen that shouldn't and wouldn't happen in a less hateful world, we who are privileged enough to have a roof over our heads, three good meals every single day, an education, no deaths that surround us, we should be able to at least look up at the sky and say "My life is good, it is better than others', and if I care that much, I will do something or at least try to do something to help their plight." Trying to escape from the horror of reality is impossible without causing oneself suffering. Reality is what we must cope with and if we don't like it, we should make an effort to change it, especially if we are in capable positions to do so.

The last point I want to touch on is those who do ecstasy for medical reasons. I spoke to one person who took it because she had severe anxiety and it helped her develop relationships with people that otherwise, she would not have been able to form. There are those who have post-traumatic stress disorder that may be helped by this particular drug (as one study has already shown). There are those who are seriously depressed and who have chemical imbalances who use ecstasy to ameliorate their symptoms. Those people who take the drug frequently may be taking it to self-medicate. I believe that ecstasy, as I said before, can produce positive results if taken carefully and in the right dosage and I do believe that it could be part of the solution to the first problem I stated above (communication issues) and others. But I also believe that one should try to think of other solutions and see if they work, instead of plunging into drugs from the get-go or taking them trivially instead of with care and seriousness.