Celibacy, aka the Fine Art of Peeing in the Punchbowl

“Celibate.”

“Yes.”

“You mean ‘celebrant,’ right? As in, as a celebrant of the Earth, you have lots and lots of sex?”

“No. I mean I don’t have any. At least not with other people.”

“But…why would you do that?”

Interesting question.

I would have thought, given my size, that it would be assumed I wasn’t having sex; that’s the going theory, right? Fat girls are as sexless as we are shapeless?

Wrong. Even outside the Pagan community, big girls get laid all the time. Thanks to internet dating and the fact that sexuality is far more varied than popular media would have us believe, fatness is not an automatic prohibitive to having a sex life. Most of the time the problem lies in the person’s lack of self-confidence more than in his or her appearance. Everyone knows at least one funny-looking person who has hot and cold running shag.

In fact, among those who practice many “alternative” religions, the community’s default position seems to be “if you are not constantly fucking, you’re oppressed.”

Needless to say, when it comes out in conversation that I have chosen to abstain from sexual activity with other people, I tend to get looked at like I just peed in the punchbowl. The reactions have run an interesting gamut from a “yeah, right, you just can’t get any” up-and-down look to a scary “But by abstaining from sex you’re violating the laws of nature!!!” that strongly resembles the you-must-have-children-or-you’re-not-a-real-woman arguments I’ve heard.

Let me tell you something: nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your body. Nobody has the right to make you feel guilty over who you are or aren’t sleeping with; and nobody has the right to belittle your personal sexual choices. At least for the moment, batshit insane Congress notwithstanding, my body is still my own to govern, and anyone who thinks otherwise is not worth my time.

The question, however, remains: Why did I declare myself celibate?

People’s first inclination is to believe that I wasn’t getting any and so I just decided to make a bad situation more noble by saying it had a purpose. Not so. At the time I made this decision I had access to the best sex of my life. I was a tertiary member of a polyamorous situation…and that, it turned out, was part of the problem.

I realized over time that I am a one-man-woman. For most of my life I have come in a distant second with men, if that. But more importantly, I’ve come in last with myself, and being page three of a flow chart was not helping my sense of self-worth any at all.

I realized I needed to enter into a loving and supportive adult relationship with myself before even considering throwing all my issues at someone else.

Not long after that I had a second realization: I don’t really like relationships. I find dealing with other people’s nonsense tiresome and aggravating, and I have yet to meet anyone I think would be worth the irritation long-term. I am intensely private, don’t like being touched, and don’t like people getting all up in my space. I do fine having friends over, or having someone up for a weekend, but the thought of living with another human being gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Most of the time in relationships I find myself thinking, “Okay…when do I get to miss you?”

Okay, then, why not just have a sexual relationship?

Oh, I could give you all sorts of reasons, quote all sorts of spiritual texts in which great masters get up in people’s privates and decide that we as a society are far too irresponsible with our sexuality, yadda yadda.  Hey, maybe that’s true; you don’t have to have cable TV to know which way the syphilis is blowing.   But as with so many life choices, when it comes down to it, it has nothing to do with cultural mores or what the world thinks.  You can have all the logical reasons in the world to do something or not, but if you don’t have a personal reason, one that really resonates with you, there’s no way you’re going to fully commit.  To tell the truth, the closest thing to a lofty purpose I had was “I’m tired of the bullshit.”

I can be kind of intense. After years of trying to hold back with men to avoid scaring them, I decided that wasn’t fair to myself or to them; if I can’t be fully myself, the relationship is not worth the bother. But in order for me to really give of myself, I have to be willing to completely open up to the other person, and I absolutely cannot do that in a sex-only relationship. I require both a sense of unshakable safety and the conviction that my partner is as devoted as I am. I don’t just want your naughty bits – I want your soul.

That’s sort of the Scorpio motto, actually.

Loving like that is exhausting. Even just shagging like that takes a lot of energy and time and lag bolts.

And as I’ve said before when discussing self-marriage, until I am able to offer myself the love and strength and encouragement and acceptance I would want in someone else, I am not about to try and find it out there; depending on someone else for your happiness is just about the dumbest thing around, and it also puts a lot of unfair pressure on the source of that happiness who has to live up to a probably-unrealistic ideal you’ve created to hang your heart on.

Thus, celibacy.

I’ve been shagless for going on a year now, and while occasionally it’s really annoying, for the most part it doesn’t bother me at all. I have plenty of torrid trysts with Mr. Shaky – but afterward I can drop him over the side of the bed and that’s that. I don’t have a time frame on how long I intend to be off the market; I have yet to be tempted, and dating is the last thing on earth I’m interested in.

Actually watching Glee is the last thing on earth I’m interested in. Dating is second.

I haven’t taken any sort of vow, and I don’t view this as a permanent situation, although if it is, oh well. I’m just not in a plus-one place right now, and rather than halfheartedly do the mating dance because society expects me to, I turn my creative energy to things that actually matter to my life, like writing. I am disinclined to turn the sign back to “OPEN FOR BUSINESS.” I find my own company perfectly satisfying.

As long as there’s a plug nearby.

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12 thoughts on “Celibacy, aka the Fine Art of Peeing in the Punchbowl

  1. Ashley–I soooo agree with you about sex being overrated. It’s nice for once not to be wanted by anyone, even though we are programmed to constantly be attractive and on the prowl for sex. I’ve fallen into that trap and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to be attractive to someone, trying to please someone by having sex with them, or simply wondering whether I was “good enough” via sexuality to be loved. I cry bullshit.

    Dianne–Loved the post and love the conviction!

  2. “I don’t like sharing. I don’t like casual sex either. Once in a great while I embark on a relationship due to the usual attractions, physical,
    emotional, spiritual, with someone else feeling those same attractions toward me,
    and I give my all, always knowing it will end. Then, when it becomes too difficult
    and annoying to sustain, I end it, and go without love for a long long time.”

    Thanks for a great post (memorably humorous), and great comments.
    It does newly married people like me and my wife no harm at all to be confronted by these possibilities implicit in an unknowable future, however fervently we hope they will not be true for us. Loving each other enough to want to foster each other’s happinessis central, and that’s certainly not all about sex.

  3. “I do fine having friends over, or having someone up for a weekend, but the thought of living with another human being gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

    Oh man, this is ME. Having finally gotten to live alone I cannot imagine going back to having a roomie, romantically-involved or no.

    I am so so so in love with my darling boyfriend, but he and I both agree that living together would probably make us both crazy. Right now we’re aiming to have apartments in the same complex; eventually the dream is to rent or own both halves of a duplex, one for each of us.

  4. Omygosh this post is funny. I’m Scorpio too, and mostly celibate too. I tell people that the world is missing a category in the homo/hetero/bi categorizations. There is also celibate like me. I’ve been engaged many times. I’m the original runaway bride. Being engaged is fun, having a fiance, having romance and always having a date, a museum buddy, or whatever I need. No matter how nicely they start out, relationships become tedious, and I don’t like sharing. I don’t like casual sex either. Once in a great while I embark on a relationship due to the usual attractions, physical, emotional, spiritual, with someone else feeling those same attractions toward me, and I give my all, always knowing it will end. Then, when it becomes too difficult and annoying to sustain, I end it, and go without love for a long long time. I won’t admit how much longer I’ve been shagless than your year. I’ll just say that my celibate times last a lot longer than the times when I’m getting it like mad.

  5. “an outlet nearby” *headslap* 😉
    I do enjoy your blog. Can’t remember ever being celibate, just between guys (oh, I wish …)

  6. I agree with you! There’s always time for celibacy and people should just lay off the pressure. If it’s right for you, it’s right for you.

    If you’re tired of the mess, I think it’s perfectly sensible to stop stepping into situations that require you to deal with it.

  7. Yes, that is indeed the Scorpio motto. I’m not celibate. I’m a Scorpio married to a Scorpio. We don’t need to have hot sex all the time. We have each others’ souls. I think only a Scorpio could truly embrace celibacy as the spiritual and self loving idea that it should be. Good for you!

  8. I completely understand your reasons for being celibate. Personally, I’m tired of sex being portrayed as all there is reason to live. It’s everywhere and it’s so far overrated. They say that people who say sex is overrated aren’t doing it right or aren’t having “good sex” but trust me, I’ve had the best sex of all of my friends who I have compared my sex life to (not to brag, but it’s true), and I still think it’s overrated. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing, sure, but people use it and abuse it and it just doesn’t mean much to a lot of people anymore. Not only that, in just about every relationship I have been in for the past 8 years, sex has become so expected, as in “Hey you I’m horny, jump on my dick….now and don’t give me any lip about it” This is the attitude I am seeing in so many men these days. They act like if you are in a relationship or are married, that you *have* to do it, and you have to do it every damn day, sometimes twice, or maybe three times, hell why not call into work so we can do it all frickin day. (Sorry, I am releasing a lot of built up anger here). I hate competing with the male libido. And then whenever I just tried being honest and tell the guy that I am just not in the mood, he takes it personally and pouts for the rest of the day, or gets pissy. I can’t win.

    I love sex, don’t get me wrong…. just not 3 times a day for 2 hours each time. I don’t have the time or energy for it, not to mention my poor girlie parts get sore after a mere 20 minutes. Damn. I don’t feel like I want to go celibate, I just wish we as a society could tone it down a few notches and not be suck a sex obsessed culture.

  9. thank you for sharing this with us.. i have been celibate for around 7 years, for many of the reasons that you express, and i am very happy. occasionally i get the people being very weird about it, and those that do not understand a constant drive to find a partner, but for the most part i am just not interested in anyone around me, and so not equipped to deal with having someone around all the time using up my time.. *grins* two things you said resonate quite strongly with how i feel about it all “I don’t just want your naughty bits – I want your soul.” and “I find my own company perfectly satisfying.”

    i am not sure that i would call being celibate, a conscious decision, its just that my life called me in a different direction

    so in ending of this somewhat rambling ramble, thank you for helping me put words to what i didn’t have words for and for making sense of it all. !!

    *smiles*
    Polly
    although i might of considered a funeral when my Mr Shaky stopped shaking.. *laughs*

  10. Thank you for putting into words what was running around in my head. Funny enough our situations are very similar. From the polyamorous relationship, deciding to love me first, the year of celibacy, and people giving me strange looks when I respond with: No, I’m in a period of abstinence right now.
    So again I say, thank you. It’s nice to know that there is at least one person out there that feels as I do.

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