Is holding hands old-fashioned?
Q⁄A on Human Sexuality for Teenagers

John Ooi Peng Lee
Master of Engineering, University of Singapore
Master in Education, University of Manchester
Reproduced with permission.

Relationship, Love and Sexuality

Question 11:

Aren't you being very old fashioned and conservative when you say that we should not go beyond holding hands? After all, kissing is no big deal to teenagers these days!

Answer 11:

Sex doesn't make love, that is, having sex will not necessarily improve your relationship. We are all sexual beings. However, we are more than just being physically male or female.

If you are not careful, and do not continually question the values underlying what you see, hear or read, you can be conditioned into thinking that certain actions are good or right when they are actually inappropriate or wrong. This can prevent you from becoming a truly loving person. For example, in many movies, love is reduced to merely feeling good with the other person, and the meaning of sexual intercourse is reduced to selfish sensual pleasure. Messages that promote the sexual exploitation of people or the break-down of the family are similarly spread.

Old Fashioned?

As you grow up, you will be exposed to many different ideas and values It does not matter whether these values are classified as conservative or liberal, old-fashioned or modern. What is important is whether these ideas and values will help you to become a more mature, responsible and loving person. If so, they should be adopted, as they will help you to develop meaningful and fulfilling long-term relationships with other persons. Those ideas that encourage immaturity, irresponsibility and selfishness should be rejected.

How does kissing help your relationship to grow?

Is holding hands only "too conservative" for you? Perhaps you should ask yourself, how does kissing help you to know each other better and to develop a great relationship? Kissing can be a form of communication, to show appreciation or goodwill. However, many teenagers kiss for the good feeling it brings, to feel loved, or for the sensual experience. Since the intention is basically self-centred, kissing doesn't do much to help the relationship develop. In fact, kissing tends to lead to sexual arousal and to a physical relationship. It can actually divert your attention from true relationship-building (see Q 2.5). It is only when you stop kissing and start communicating that you really give yourself a chance to know each other better.