We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what it’s like to be celibate. Here are some of their responses.
1. “Growing up in a strict Pentecostal household, I was constantly lectured on the harm in treating ourselves and others as sexual objects. Your value as a woman, my mum would say, should not be based on your sexual appeal to men. My religious background has not influenced me to believe that one should wait until marriage to have sex but my mum’s words always resonate with me. Now, at the age of 24, I am simply waiting for a guy who values me for who I am.”
2. “I’m celibate because I’m trying to figure out what makes me happy. I’ve seen my friends get physically involved with people and it seems like sex just makes them more confused about their feelings. At this point, I am happier than I have ever been. I’m on Tinder and the good thing about being on Tinder and being celibate is that people are very upfront with their intentions. I can easily weed out those who aren’t going to respect my choices. While I don’t plan on being celibate forever, I know I made a good decision for this point in my life.”
3. “I have been celibate for close to 10 years now. I am a 34-year-old single mom. My relationship with my son’s father was filled with abuse and dysfunction. And after much introspection, I noticed that almost every relationship I have had with a man was unhealthy or abusive in some way. I feel unable to trust men or allow them into my life in any real way. On one hand, celibacy has made me feel empowered, free, and in charge of my life. Celibacy gave me control back, when my world was spinning. And on the other hand, as you might imagine, the longer I am celibate the more lonely and frustrated I become, afraid that I’ll never be able to trust a man again and never find love. I keep telling myself that celibacy is choice I’m making, and I can also un-choose it. Yet, as the years go on, it feels like my celibacy has taken root and has become part of who I am.”
4. “I haven’t found it difficult to be celibate. To use a very tired analogy, you can’t crave chocolate if you’ve never tasted it. Swap ‘sex’ for ‘chocolate’ and that’s where I’m at. I don’t feel like I’m ‘missing out’ on anything. Basically, I’m waiting to have sex with someone who won’t make me regret it one day.”
5. “I had a history of sleeping with guys who didn’t respect me. When I was sexually assaulted I decided I’d had enough. I spent 11 months completely celibate without any physical contact from any guy. It ended up being the smartest decision I ever made and was so rewarding. I learned to love myself without needing the confirmation from guys and more importantly I learned how to demand respect. After I was assaulted it was one of the lowest points in my life, but my 11-month celibacy afterwards turned out to be the best year of my life.”
6. “In 2003, I underwent two traumatic lifestyle changes: divorce from my second (and final) husband, and an emergency hysterectomy/bilateral oophorectomy. Prior to these events, I had been on the more active side when it came to sexual intimacy. This was always a very big part (sometimes the only part) of my relationships with men. In my second marriage, my husband used our intimacy as a weapon to control and manipulate me. My entire self-esteem became tied up in this manipulation, and after the marriage ended, I seriously doubted that I could ever trust a man intimately again. Thirteen years later, I am still single, and still celibate. I no longer experience physical desire for men. I am in full menopause, and so, like many senior citizens, I have no desire to play.
7. “Me and my partner actually decided to be celibate before we started dating. We both just came out of pretty crappy, self-depleting, messed-up relationships. We were celibate for three months and we decided to be celibate because we didn’t want our relationship to be based on physical connection; instead it blossomed into an emotional connection. Three years later we are stronger than ever and I plan on proposing.”
8. “For me, as someone who has remained celibate in their twenties, I often asked myself why. It’s not for religious reasons and I’ve never felt sex is something to be ashamed of. It was something much more personal. Everybody regards sex in different ways and for me, it’s something personal to be shared with someone I connect with and feel totally comfortable with in all aspects of life. I definitely feel pressured and patronised by a lot of friends for my life choices. However, I don’t judge them for theirs and I definitely don’t feel ashamed of mine.”
9. “Initially I didn’t choose to be celibate. I was a victim of sexual assault when I was 19 and for months and years afterwards the thought of sex terrified me. When I had come to terms with what had happened to me, I realised how freeing it was not having sex. I still masturbate but I have no desire or wish to have sex. Maybe it’s an act of self-preservation, I don’t know, but I feel really empowered by being celibate.”
10. “So, I was never brought up in the church – if anything my family were against it. However when I lost a very close friend in high school, it found me of its own accord. My virginity is something I can only give once. I want to give that to the man who is devoted to me. I’m yet to meet another gay man who practises celibacy, and even when I do enter a relationship they always end up cheating on me. I do have moments of doubt but I get through them knowing that God’s plan will see me right.”
11. I’m not religious, it’s not about moral values either, and I’m not waiting for ‘the one’. Truth is, I just can’t be bothered with casual sex, let alone a relationship. As a man with a functioning penis, I am apparently supposed to be out ‘getting it wet’ as some would say, but I just don’t want to. I will pursue a goal only if I want it, not because someone says I should be pursuing it. It’s just not important to me, that’s all.
– Ross Hamilton, Facebook
12. “It’s tough. Right now I’m taking some time to myself to figure out what I want. Yeah I do like sex, but I only like it when it’s passionate with someone I love. I get horny as fuck, which sucks.”
13. “So. I’m 22 and celibate. I’m not religious, but my parents raised me in a Muslim home and we don’t have sex before marriage. So I was programmed for celibacy. But you know, I grew up. I’ve had a boyfriend, six years ago. We didn’t have sex. I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel right but he was kinda pressuring me. So I broke up and that was it. For quite a long time, I didn’t care about being celibate. But now that I’m a bit older, I don’t feel the same. I want to save myself for someone special but not necessarily for my wedding night. I mean, if I meet someone nice, that cares for me, respects me, loves me, then if it happens I guess I’ll be OK with that. When my friends tell me about their sex life I get jealous. Because it’s not just about sex, it’s about the intimacy between two people, and this is what I want. I feel lonely 99% of the time and even if I tell myself that I have wonderful friends and school to care about, there is still something missing. I hate this feeling. But until I find someone special, I’ll have to live with it.”
14. “I have been celibate for over 10 years. I am divorced and have two teenagers. I haven’t dated at all since the divorce. After a while you get used to no sex. The drive basically goes away. It’s lonely sometimes, but the thought of dating and sex after all this time is overwhelming. I’m not into casual sex, and finding someone to date that would be OK with zero sex isn’t a realistic possibility. I’m in my mid-forties and I’m just at the point where it’s like, eh fuck it. I’ll be alone, at least romantically, for the rest of my life.”
15. “I separated from a long-term relationship seven months ago and decided to take two years off sex and relationships. I have a beautiful son and I don’t want him to have a string of ‘daddies’ or ‘uncles’ or random men in his life, and I don‘t want a string of random men in my life. I had awesome pre-child sexual adventures and exploration and it was more than enough.”
16. “First I was celibate because I was scared, and scarred from sexual abuse. Then I was celibate because of my faith, and I still believe sex is about love and a spiritual connection, not just pleasure. Now, I’m celibate because I realise that I’m pretty much asexual and always have been. I’m over 50 and I’m a virgin and I’m not ashamed. My life is like everyone else’s, sans the pursuit of a husband or sex partner and much of the drama and heartbreak that goes with that. Sometimes I’m lonely and wish I had a life partner, but for the most part, I’m content.”
17. “For reasons beyond my control, I have been celibate for something like 18 months. Cool for people who find it liberating or whatever but I absolutely hate it.”
– Trisha Dee, Facebook
18. “It’s boring AF. But at least it’s drama-free. I noticed that once I stopped confusing sex with love my life was drama-free and my mental health improved so much. It’s super boring being celibate but I am so much happier.”
19. “I didn’t think I would go through with my words when I said I’m going celibate for the year of 2015. It felt like a breeze during the first half; a lot of my friends weren’t having sex and they didn’t die. The world didn’t stop. I was sure I could do it too. Plus, I was emotionally exhausted from tolerating men’s BS. Not caring about dating, how to get a guy, or how to read boys’ texts was liberating and a personal achievement. I got to put myself first, really think of what I like, don’t like, and what I want for me.
“The second half of the year was a little rough. You don’t realise how sexually frustrated you are until you get jealous over a girlfriend’s fun sex story with her new boyfriend. During the year, I became more acquainted with myself and checked out different sex toys and different ways to masturbate. Moral of the story is that self-love, in any context, is key. ”
Some responses have been edited for clarity. Anonymous responses were sent by email where anonymity was requested.