Sex is not an Affirmation for Self-Esteem

The definition of self-esteem can be stated as the reputation we have with ourselves. It is not the feeling we get from a new outfit or a compliment or the need to have sex with an acquaintance or stranger to get over a relationship. New clothes, compliments, sex and all temporary lifts make us feel good for the moment, but they have a fleeting quality that needs to be reinforced as often as the tides change in our lives. These temporary fixes are not something we can count on to be with us through life's ups and downs.

Self-esteem is earned by us, for us and is not given by nature to some and not others. We are not born with a healthy self-esteem. We must acquire it if we are to walk the path of life with peace and dignity. Some of us develop a healthy self-esteem at an early age, while others work long and hard to cultivate it.

Nathaniel Branden, author of "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" and "The Psychology of Romantic Love", says there are three challenges of life. Number one is to have the ability to take independent care of ourselves. Number two is developing competence in all relationships and number three is resistance. We will all know pain and defeat, but the important element here is - get back in the ring. This is the sure sign of healthy self-esteem.

Life may knock us down, but our self-worth says the experience happened to me, but it is not who I am. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, young women with low self-esteem use sex hoping that their partner will like them or will desire them or perhaps think they are the best thing they’ve ever experienced and will want and need them forever. This is destructive behavior and is NOT solid footing for a healthy long-term relationship.

Self-esteem allows us to place a higher value on our bodies, including the ability to take care of our health by practicing safe sex and by knowing when and if we are ready to take the responsibility of becoming a parent. It permits us to place our own importance on our sexuality by knowing who we are in this area and then finding a partner who is sexually compatible.

The following statistics are eye opening:

Over 40 million (1 in 5) people have genital herpes and 20 million have genital warts. Many people have passed an STD to a sex partner without knowing it. Incidence of genital herpes in the United States has increased 30% over the past 20 years. The largest increase has occurred in Caucasians, about 1 million new cases. Furthermore, 1 in 4 Caucasian women are infected with the genital herpes. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred - a number that is substantially higher than the previous estimate of 40,000 annual new infections. African American women represented 66% of AIDS diagnoses in women.

According to the philosopher Ayn Rand, sex is the highest expression of love and the greatest tribute - of one’s own physical existence - that one can offer to another within the context of romantic love. Sex is the affirmation of one’s body and spirit - the union of bodies motivated by and in response to the intimate connection of minds and one’s mind is identical to one’s self.

I’ve always said the mind is the sexiest part of the human anatomy. Happy and healthy or a statistic, which would you rather be?

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.