S.e.x.u.a.l Attitude and Behavior

During the past several decades, there have been major changes within most Western countries in people’s attitudes toward sex,and in sexual behaviour. For people who have lived throughout this period, the changes have seemed quite remarkable.  

Until the early twentieth century, people in most Western countries did not have permissive attitudes regarding sexuality. For the most part, young people were expected to wait until marriage before having sexual intercourse. Of course, some premarital sex did occur, and prostitution was not rare. However, sexual behaviour was relatively restricted.  

As the twentieth century progressed, there was a gradual trend toward liberalization of attitudes toward sex. However, this trend was greatly speeded after 1960, when the first birth control pills became available. These contraceptive pills made it possible for women to engage in sexual intercourse without much risk of an unwanted pregnancy. As a result, many women were more willing to have premarital sex than was previously the case.  

Also during the 1960s, Western countries were reaching high levels of wealth and education. A new and very large generation of young people was approaching adulthood, and there was a mood of rebellion against traditional norms. There was an increase in the number of people who engaged in sex before marriage, and also a greater openness about such behaviour.  

By the 1970s, sexual attitudes had become quite liberal, and many young people were quite promiscuous in their sexual behaviour. However, this pattern reversed somewhat during the 1980s. There was increased concern about sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS; moreover, many young women had been uncomfortable with the idea of unrestricted sexual behaviour. As a result, sexual attitudes became slightly more conservative during the 1980s and 1990s, although they remained much more liberal than in previous decades.  

In the early twenty-first century, most young people in Western countries begin having sex during their high school years, although some people wait until they are considerably older. Some young people are promiscuous, but most engage in monogamous relationships that typically last for a period of several months or a few years. When one relationship ends, another usually begins soon after. This pattern usually continues until marriage. After marriage, most people have sex exclusively with their spouse; however, some people do commit adultery.  

Sexuality has changed a great deal in recent decades. It will be very interesting to see how people’s sexual attitudes and behaviour will change in the future.

a way of feeling or thinking about someone or something, esp. as this influences one’s behavior: I don’t like her (unhelpful) attitude. | What is the company’s attitude to/towards this idea? | a pessimistic attitude of mind | You have an attitude problem! (=a bad attitude)
attitude to/towards
Pete’s attitude towards women really scares me.
positive/negative attitude
people with a positive attitude to lifethe country’s attitude of mind (=way of thinking) during the crisis

(esp. in business letters) on the subject of; in connection with; concerning:

Regarding your recent inquiry … .
Regarding your recent inquiry, I have enclosed a copy of our new brochure.

interest in, the expression of, or the ability to take part in sexual activity

happening or existing before marriage
premarital sex

premarital sex:
sexual relations between a man and a woman before marriage. In many countries, this is thought to be quite common and it is not generally considered to be as immoral or shocking as it was in former times, though some groups are strongly against it, e.g. the Catholic Church.

quite; when compared to others of the same kind: The exam was relatively easy. | a relatively warm day for the time of year | Relatively speaking it’s not important.

limited in your movements or in what you are able to do
The accident left her with restricted movement in her right leg. In those days women led very restricted lives.

to make a system, laws, or moral attitudes less strict

ᅳliberalization noun [uncountable]


a drug, object, or method used to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant when she has sex
free contraceptives

ᅳcontraceptive adjective [only before noun] a contraceptive device

to be doing or to become involved in an activity
engage in/on/upon
Only 10% of American adults engage in regular exercise. The two parties engaged upon an escalating political struggle. Mr Armstrong was engaged in prayer.
engage in doing something
Despite her illness, she remains actively engaged in shaping policy.

Another Source:
to take part in: Politicians should not engage in business affairs that might affect their political judgment.

the time when you are an adult
ᅳopposite childhood

when someone opposes or fights against people in authority or ideas which they do not agree with
a rebellion by right-wing members of the party
rebellion against
rebellion against traditional values

norms[plural]generally accepted standards of social behaviour
terrorists who violate the norms of civilized society social/cultural etc norms

the quality of being willing to accept new ideas or people
openness to/towards
the importance of openness to change

willing to understand and respect the ideas and feelings of others: a liberal mind/thinker | a liberal-minded person

having many sexual partners
the risks of promiscuous sexual behaviour

reverse: change

formal to send or pass something from one person, place or thing to another
transmit something (from somebody/something) to somebody/something
Mathematical knowledge is transmitted from teacher to student.

sexually transmitted diseases:
STD a disease that one person passes to another through having sex, such as AIDS or herpes

not held back or controlled
unrestrained anger/violence | the unrestrained use of force
unrestricted access to information



much or a lot
It’s considerably colder today. Conditions have improved considerably over the past few years.

when a person or animal has a sexual relationship with only one partner
Monogamy is rare in most animal groups, but is common among birds.

ᅳmonogamous adjective
We live in a monogamous society.

*This offer is available exclusively to people who call now.
*This room is exclusively for women.
*He writes exclusively for the Washington Post.

a husband or wife
Spouses were invited to the company picnic.

sex between someone who is married and someone who is not their wife or husband
She had committed adultery on several occasions.

CULTURAL NOTE Although most people do not approve of people who COMMIT adultery, it is not a crime in the US. If someone who is married has a relationship with another person, people would usu. say that they are having an affair, rather than that they are committing adultery. In law, adultery is a reason someone can use to end a marriage.