Disclaimer: Just because am celibate does not mean I won’t hit it if you keep swinging it my way. Key words “IF YOU KEEP SWINGING IT MY WAY”.
This topic as I have come to realize is usually left out of open, sex-positive talk, reserved for the devoutly religious; which I’m currently not (which I’m sure you already know) but soon might be for reasons I will explain here today or another time.
I’m celibate. I am a single, heterosexual, mid-twenties-aged male. I have all the appendages that nature intended and, although modesty forbids that I class myself as a handsome good-looking young man, attractive women still make me interesting offers of intimate entanglements-and yes, some of them are even sober at the time. Of course, being a writer also helps to make one irresistibly attractive to the opposite sex. Writers have their charm. You get intimate with the workings of their minds. Personally, am fascinated by the way they take you to the heights of human imaginations showing you the greatness of human capabilities and at the same time showing the depths the human mind can go portraying how evil or unconventional we humans can be.
So why am I celibate? Or why have I decided to go down the celibacy road? I know you are wondering why someone who doesn’t harbor any ambitions of becoming a priest or a nun would choose to opt out of having sex, here are four pretty understandable, non-religious reasons I can think of and which most people choose to be celibate.
First, it prevents STDs. While we’re told that regular sex is good for health, STDs are not. Not all of us are able to find a loving, monogamous, disease-free relationship, and, besides that, abstinence (as our high school sex education teachers repeatedly told us) is the only 100 percent effective method of birth control and disease prevention. Of course, having a disease yourself (and wanting to protect a partner) is another good reason to abstain except I don’t have a partner in this case.
Second, it boosts (non-sexual) intimacy. Sex is bound to intimacy. The lack of desirable partners (or just being burned badly) is reason enough to turn some of us off from sharing our bodies and emotions with others. Addiction or other unhealthy attachments to sex would fall into this category, too. I want to nurture that intimacy. I want to feel again without the expectation of sex lying in the horizon of my relationships.
Third, celibacy creates more “me” time. Men and women are working harder than ever. In some fields, getting ahead requires 110 percent of our time and focus, perhaps even 360 percent sometimes. This makes it very hard to maintain a relationship, so more people are ditching the dating scene altogether and embracing celibacy. So while am looking to nurture non-sexual intimacy, I have in the meantime suspended the search for the person to share that intimacy with to concentrate on my multiple endeavors.
Fourth, and most important, it’s empowering. Choosing whether or not to do something gives a sense of control and purpose in our lives. A sex-free lifestyle frees up a tremendous amount of brain and emotional space that the strategizing, analyzing and agonizing over our sex lives often fills. Freeing up time allows one to focus on some of the many empowering, advancing and self-esteem-building activities that can make our lives more meaningful and productive. While celibacy may sound like an extreme choice to some, it is liberating to others and to me in this case. Remember: it doesn’t have to be forever (and that just about justifies my disclaimer).
I choose this on my own because I would hate it to be thrust upon me due to unavoidable circumstances. We all hate to be told what to do. Even when we know we can do something, when someone, even by the faintest hint, appears to be forcing us to do that thing, our perspective changes and we become repulsive. Take for instance that you are sharing living space with someone and from time to time you two share the duty of washing the dis hes. You can obviously be washing them forever without being asked to if the house is yours and you have to do it whether you have visitors there or not. Then one day your roommate comes home maybe with friends and tells you to wash the dishes. There and then you start feeling as if your friend is taking advantage of your kind nature.
I know of a friend whose story you will empathize with and perhaps give you more perspective in why I insist it should be out of choice and not under forced circumstances. A few years ago he was in a relationship when he discovered that he had a neurological condition that was likely, in time (he didn’t know when), to deteriorate. That was the end of the relationship-a decision that his partner made and which, although he took badly at the time, he now appreciates a lot better. After all, it is one thing to think that illness or death may happen to one or other of you half a century to come, and another altogether when it may be only five years down the road.
What I found out in my quest to understand and practice celibacy is that the choice to not have sex is just as personal and individual as the decision to have it- and religion is only one of many reasons for making that choice. A discovery of self, a desire for a deeper-than-sex connection, and a redirection of time and energy have been and will continue to be the source of my drive.
While we often think of celibacy as a religious choice, there are plenty of people who undertake it for secular reasons- as a lifestyle choice. Why would anybody do that, you may ask? First, you have to understand what being celibate really means.
The word “celibacy” is typically defined as a person voluntarily opting out of romantic relationships and/or sexual activity, often for religious reasons. However, the mainstream understanding of the term has come to revolve solely around sex. For most, if they hear you’re celibate, they assume you’re choosing not to have sex. Now, you may ask what’s the difference between celibacy and abstinence?
Broadly, abstinence is largely seen as a form of restraint. When you’re abstinent, you are choosing to deny yourself something that you acknowledge gives you pleasure. This is why abstinence as a form of birth control can be a hard pitch to teenagers. But, when it comes to celibacy, the decision isn’t usually about denying yourself something that you want. When a person chooses to become celibate, there are often larger, more philosophical reasons involved (hence, why celibacy is so often associated with religion). Philosophically speaking I would say abstinence is a response on the outside to what’s going on, and celibacy is a response from the inside. But, as I mentioned, celibacy doesn’t HAVE to be a religious decision. There are many, many people who have nothing to do with organized religions who choose to be celibate for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to focus their energy on other aspects of their life. Or maybe they just never found sex to be a particularly fulfilling activity. Or maybe they just have their own unique personal beliefs that have nothing to do with religion or fear or denying themselves anything. (It takes all kinds.)
Most people I have met however do not choose celibacy for philosophical reasons. They probably just made bad choices in relationships, dated lots of team ‘mafisis’ and ended up being hurt badly. They therefore end up abstaining from intercourse in a bid to protect themselves (their bodies and emotions) hoping that if they withhold sex, perhaps the right partner will show up and wait until they are ready to hop back in the game. Of course that rarely happens if the abstinence was not grounded on any moral or philosophical basis other than just wanting to protect themselves. It has to be deeper than that. They mostly end up being disappointed over and over again. By the tone of that you might have by now realized that most of those are ladies.
While there is nothing wrong in wanting to protect your body and emotions from being toyed with, you must seek something deeper than that. I have been there; broken so badly I didn’t feel like I could ever recover. At first, after the break-up (which was a few years back), I could have gone one of two ways. I could have dived head-first into a flurry of empty, hedonistic sex in a quest for revenge against all women for my ex-partner’s abandonment of me. I didn’t; although it crossed my mind. Instead, I took some time out to grieve for the loss of a relationship that had meant a lot to me and, to be honest, to feel bloody sorry for myself. But what do you do after that?
Years have gone by now and I have spent some time in thought, both consciously and sub-consciously about my past relationships. I have slowly come to the conclusion that celibacy is the way forward. I know within that I could live a life of permanent isolation like an anchorite, yet I know also that I would not want to. Frankly, I love women. I love their company, the sound of their voices, the way that although they occupy the same physical space as us blokes they seem to inhabit it so totally differently. The thought of not sharing their company is unthinkable to me. I have always preferred sex within a relationship to one-night stands or other arrangements with little or no actual connection of souls. I am not a puritan, but I prefer the greater intimacy that you can achieve through a shared exploration of each other’s body and desires.
So, do I miss sex? Of course, but not as much as I thought that I would. Arguably, sex is an addiction. Break the cycle and, over time, the physical and psychological “need” for sex lessens. You can do without it, hard as that may be to believe. Yes, you will still think about it, but over time those thoughts lose their power. I have read assiduously about the various techniques employed by monks and other religious adherents of various faiths, and the supposed benefits that they derive from abstinence. I am, however, yet to be convinced that there is any spiritual or physical gain to be had.
However, being celibate has actually improved my relationships with women-at least those that I already know. Getting to know new people of the opposite sex is still no easier even with the massive technological advancements in which you can be seen as a “nuisance” or “stalker” by some, which can be interesting. Once you remove the potential for sex from the relationship, and both parties are aware of that, it changes the dynamic of the friendship. You can both be relaxed in each other’s company in a way that is not possible otherwise. Daft, but seemingly true. Look, for example, at the similarly close relationships that some women have with gay men.
So would I recommend celibacy to my fellow men? I appreciate that my circumstances are as normal as anyone else’s and that anybody finding themselves in my position (wanting to change their lives) would have to make up their own mind on the matter which is possible. However, people consider celibacy for many and varied reasons; so if you are considering it, I would say that it is not something to fear and can indeed be a positive choice. And, let’s face it, if you try it and don’t like it then you can always change your mind. Why do you think I put a disclaimer on the first line of this article? Even taking a break from sex, or at least taking a break from the obsessional quest for it, can often be incredibly rewarding. I wish you luck in this great endeavor.
©Cooper Jose Njoroge