I have spent more than half of my adult life celibate. Yes you read that correctly. I am 28 years old, you do the math. I wasn’t just going through some “dry spell”. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any suitors. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find a hookup if I wanted one. Sex is at the click of a button or a quick DM if you want it bad enough. I chose to sustain from intimacy. That includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, kissing and any form of sexual contact. I’m not sure I received more than a good old fashioned one armed side church hug from a man during those times. I just didn’t do it.
For those of you who follow my super exciting life, I know you’re wondering “is this the same girl who recently blogged about her casual hook-up?” Yes I am. For those of you who have done the math and wonder did I spend five years straight with no action? No I didn’t. On more than one occasion I made the conscious decision to remain celibate until I was married. My longest stretch was over two and half years. But every time I have made the vow to myself, I have broken it.
I always found it funny when people assumed my celibacy meant I was some prude born again virgin nun with no sexual appetite. Quite the opposite was true. I love sex. I don’t know many women my age who don’t. Sure some may crave it more than others. If I am being completely transparent here, I am one of those some. I am not ashamed of my desires or openness when it comes to sex. Actually I am quite convinced it is that drive that will help make me a really amazing wife one day. It is also the drive that has made me really horrible at dating the way I intended to date: intentionally and with my celibacy intact.
Maybe some of you don’t understand why I value the concept so much. God created sex to be within the covenant of marriage. So much so that marriage was not originally constituted by some elaborate celebration with bouquets, white dresses and a hundred of your closest family and friends whom you haven’t actually spoken to in years. Marriage was determined at the point of sexual intimacy (think Adam and Eve). That is because sex isn’t just the act of physical euphoria we have watered it down to be. It is a moment where two souls are intertwined as one. For those of my non-believing followers who think I am just regurgitating religious rhetoric, let me give you further insight. Have you ever stayed in unhealthy relationship or situationship because the sex was good? Have you or anyone you know ever made some back handed joke about the about of bull you would put up with because someone had some bomb (fill in the blank)? That, my friends, is emotional bondage disguised as physical pleasure. To deny that truth would be doing yourself a great disservice for any current or future relationships.
I came to a point in my life where I understood this. So what started as an attempt to take time self love and break the emotional ties from my past turned into a desired way of life. Dating my way was not working. I was no longer willing to hand away pieces of my soul or invest any more emotion into temporary visitors. I sustained from sex and dating for a while. But every time I started dating someone new, I did exactly what I swore I would not do and gave my body to them.
Dating as a millennial is not always easy (Casually committed: Another Millennial Dating Blog). The expectation for sex is there. I also learned that even the men who were “fine” with me waiting really meant one of two things: I am okay with it, but I certainly won’t hold you accountable to it or I bet I can make you change your mind. But understand, I am not blaming them. Another transparent moment, I was often at fault. Like I said, I like sex. And when I like someone, it is part of how I’ve learned to express my desire for him. And when I am actively trying to sustain from expressing that, I swear the desire doesn’t decrease, instead its heightened. Hold my hand, BREATHE on my the wrong way I might explode. Add a good beard and a lingering kiss in the mix, it’s a wrap. So I surrendered to my desires for a moment of physical intoxication. And going to the church for advice was never an option. Most wont have a realistic conversation with you about dealing with sexual temptations. Instead you’ll leave feeling like your going straight to hell with no real advice other than pray about it and some specific scripture presented in a way to make you feel like you’re a total slut for giving it up on that date last night. So instead if I was feeling tempted, I just did it.
The problem is I have yet to find a man who I am going to be spending my forever with. I’v connected my self emotionally with men who did not deserve that intimate part of my soul and I’ve been hurt because of it.
Even worse I have recently found myself devaluing the intimate connection of sex, placing it in the same casual category I have begged so many of my peers not to do. I have used it to be a stress reliever, a distraction from my problems and the glue that held me to situations that were most certainly not progressing into what I know I desired. Even with my most recent partner, I was quickly pushed into the booty call category before he ever got to know me. I desired to get to know him more but his interest in me went no further than netflix and chill at his convenience. This is a problem so many men and women have. Sex is casual to them. Just something that feels good. They use it as a distraction, never really taking the time to learn what they are distracting themselves from. Or they convince themselves that it is only physical pleasure they are seeking when in reality it is the false sense of intimacy they are attached to. Every single bed the decide to lay down in, they leave a piece of themselves there when they go. I don’t want to leave pieces of myself anywhere. And I most definitely don’t want to be someone’s booty call when I know what I have to offer.
The thing is, when my best friend recommended we be each other’s celibacy accountability partners, I didn’t want to. I wasn’t sure that I was again ready to let go of the false sense of intimacy either. Plus, didn’t I mention already, I really do like sex. But I know she was right. So I started thinking, how the HELL did I make it through last time. I mean its not like I’m out here getting laid all the time, but just knowing I am promising myself I won’t means that I can’t. That makes it seem like an impossible task. I thought about the things that made me successful on this journey before and what it was that I believe can help me now when I am again faced with temptation.
Maybe you are on this journey too. It could be for religious reasons, you have had your heart broken and just want to keep your intimacy your own, or maybe sex is an unwanted distraction for you. No matter the reason you have chosen abstinence, here are my suggestions on how WE can be successful.
1)Accountability partners. I am lucky enough to have other women on this path, wanting to remain celibate until they are married. So I talk to them. I tell them when I’m craving sex. I tell them when I’ve messed up. I listen to their advice. Even if you don’t know anyone, tell someone you trust that you want to be abstinent and why. People who really love you will be willing to help keep you in check even if they don’t understand why you are doing it.
2)Watch what you are putting into you mind and spirit. Obviously someone who is sustaining knows pulling up porn hub is probably a bad idea. But what are you reading, watching and listening to? Know the things that will plant unwanted seeds. For me personally, listening to certain music is a bad idea. So I’ve finally had to retire the Tank Savage album I’ve been playing out for an entire year now. *sighs*
3)Unfriend. Unfollow. Mute. Delete. Block. These features are handy, use them. I’m not saying you have to remove everyone you are attracted to or have had sexual contact with. But you know, that one guy who just a few weeks ago he was gathering your clothes off his floor to help prepare you for your walk of shame but then you run into each other at the gym and don’t even have a conversation. Yet every time he posts a selfie of him flexing you are struggling to grab hold of your panties?Yea, he’s got to go. (Ok, this is a problem I think only I’ve had, but y’all know what I’m saying). Don’t buy into the lie that it’s petty or bitter to remove people from social media. If someone’s posts make you feel longing, temptation, curiosity, rejection, jealousy or any emotion that distracts you from your goal, hit that button.
4)Replace the habit. When you are feeling tempted, find another way to release that energy. What are you good at? Do that. Find a new hobby. Be productive. For me, writing and the gym are amazing outlets for anything I’m feeling. The same has been true if I’m feeling sexually frustrated. (Hints this blog)
5)Know your limits and set boundaries. This one is especially true for people not having sex while actively dating. Everyone has a different “I’m so turned on right now” threshold. Know yours and set boundaries to avoid reaching that point. I know being cuddled on the couch watching movies isn’t a good idea for me. As a matter of fact I probably shouldn’t be at your house alone in the late night at all. So set your boundaries. If that means less kissing, than kiss less. Make your boundaries clear and stick to them.
6)Pray and read your scripture. For those of my peeps doing this for spiritual reasons, you will fail miserably if you don’t stay in your word and spend time with God. Understand you shouldn’t be abstinent just because the saints said so. Waiting until marriage is God’s design to become the best version of yourself in singleness so you can be the best version of yourself when joined as one. This is your time to find out exactly what God has called you to be without the responsibility of a partner. Seek Him. And understand you can reach your full potential in purpose unmarried. That my ladies, is the embodiment of a Proverbs 31 women. (Solomon 8:4 is a great scripture to help).
7)Do not shy away from your decision. This day in age you’ll get a lot of “seriously. Why? I could never. What if you wait and your husband sucks in bed?” It’s easy to avoid telling people your choice because of the backlash. Or maybe you are afraid to tell the new person you are dating. But I promise you the topic will come up. And if you can’t be bold enough to stand up for your decision in conversation you won’t make it through the face of temptation. So know your why and don’t be afraid to talk about it.
But the most important part in being successful at maintaining celibacy is deciding your worth, your standards and your purpose are more important than the distraction of your desires.
20 days in, wish me luck.