I have been celibate for three years. Yep, no intercourse since August 20, 2020; how do you like those apples?
For further disclosure, I’ve had no sexual contact whatsoever, including kissing, petting, sexting, oral — OK, let’s keep this clean, but you know what I mean, NOTHING!
Friends, family, and colleagues are either in stable relationships, have a special someone, or are otherwise sexually engaged, and I am happy for them, but personally, the appeal isn’t there.
I have absolutely zero interest in sex.
This topic was prompted the other day while watching television with my youngest adult daughter. A commercial about the Bachelor Seniors edition came on, and Smarty Pants here responded with a “yuck.” Of course, my reaction reared up a topic I thought I had put to bed, but my child wasn’t willing to let it go.
“Just because you want to die alone, doesn’t mean others want to.”
Oh, boy, when these words came out of my daughter’s mouth, I knew our conversation was going to be anything but delightful.
Further probing from my little girl who recently got married stirred the pot more.
“You don’t even try to meet people. Plenty of people your age and older find love and get married. Not everyone is the same, you know. There are plenty of decent guys in the world. You’re going to be old and grumpy…”
“I have no interest in sex.”
“What? Huh? Relationships aren’t all about sex.”
“Yes, well, it’s part of it.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
Yeah, well, as you can see that conversation was a barrel of laughs for both involved, but it’s the first time I have verbalized my sexual noninterest. Although my daughter and I quickly turned our attention to another discussion, our word exchange played heavily on my mind. Did she make valid points? Is her twenty-six-year-old mind perceptively correct? Is there something wrong with me?
Am I abnormal?
It’s not like I haven’t been in any relationships. I have four adult children born from two different fathers. Maybe my encounters have been more stressful than typical relationship scenarios; my oldest two daughters' dad is a drug addict who I left years ago. The youngest two children's father was abusive; again, I got away from that situation.
I’ve had therapy and counseling much like many others who have dealt with crises and trauma, and I went on to form new relationships.
Life warrants highs and lows and I’ve had my share. I have been up. I’ve been down, yet I’ve always prevailed.
Happy, sad, excited, depressed, yes, all of it and everything in between.
In my twenties, I would say I was quite sensual. I worked as an exotic dancer. I was confident, enjoyed performing, and owning my body and its flair for sexual appeal.
Some would say I was at one time promiscuous — perhaps, perhaps not, it all depends on one’s definition of promiscuity.
For me sexual expression was never a shameful thing; it was just simply me being me.
So how does one go from the young cute mom, sexy dancer type entertaining crowds with visual fantasies to a woman uninterested in sex?
Well, it didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure, but as much as I previously thought I had dealt with all my issues, I neglected one vital factor: change — the change within myself.
I suppose in retrospect my focus was only half correct. Family support and community outreach helped me cope with anxiety, night terrors, the reality of day-to-day living, family healing as a single mum, and regaining my footing as a productive member of society, but within the scope of all these tasks, I forgot about myself.
I was so hell-bent on fixing my life for my children and me, that I never stopped to ask myself, how is all this stuff affecting me?
Suppressing the mechanics of change is easier than one might think, especially when the welfare of little ones is concerned, but admittingly Surface problems are a mere drop in the bucket to the complexities of the inner being.
One year ago, I wrote the story shown above, detailing my coming to terms with buried emotions. I portrayed myself as an artist searching for butterflies, but not the flutters one feels when attracted to another person. Instead my pursuit entailed a journey of diving into myself, searching for that feel good feeling which can only come from inside. This butterfly flutter is not contingent on outside forces. It’s a tingling sensation one feels when excited about life independant of societal expectations or influences of others. It’s within my art, my solo exhibit living as a celibate woman that I have found my wings to fly.
Anytime we go through a situation whether good or bad, we come out on the other side as a changed person. Subtle or intense, the truth remains that experiences change people. It can be simple, complex, or a combination of feelings but an alteration of some sort is inevitable.
Suffice it to say, that much self-discovery has taken place in my three years of celibacy.
I have reconnected with the little girl me and joined forces with the me I am today.
I am confident once again
I am excited about life more than ever.
And even though I feel revived and reconnected, I still have zero interest in sex.
This does not mean I do not appreciate sexy things; I am highly attuned to my senses and enjoy many a varied indulgence in things personally perceived as sexy. Rain on a Summer afternoon, the scent of jasmine and vanilla, a warm smile from a stranger, alluring cologne, satin sheets, an accent, a subtle hair toss — these things are a mere mention of all that I find sexy.
I’m simply not interested in having sex.
This ideology may be difficult for some to comprehend, but bear with me; things will become clearer momentarily.
Sexuality is a spectrum
According to Healthline, sexuality is a spectrum and a person’s needs and desires can change over time.
It’s important to remember that just like life, people evolve and grow. Sexual identification is not limited to one identity and isn’t always clearly defined. Additionally, wherever one happens to fall on the spectrum is just as normal as being undefined. Moreover, identifying with more than one attraction does not make a person less than, abnormal, strange, or what have you.
Yes, human sexuality is complex.
Here are four terms defining different genres of sexuality:
- Allosexual- describes people who are sexually attracted to other people and include different orientations: bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, etc. The allosexual’s attraction is not based on identity; it can be anyone.
- Demisexual- Describes a person who forms sexual attraction and feelings only after developing a close emotional relationship.
- Graysexual- a gray area defining a person who falls between allosexual and sexual, meaning one who experiences sexual attraction on occasion.
- Asexual- Describes someone who generally doesn’t experience sexual attraction or pursues sexual relationships.
When we look at the spectrum of opposites, allosexual and asexual, it’s important to note that even within these two extremes there are variants, including two orientations, sexual orientation and romantic orientation. Furthermore, whereas celibacy and abstinence are straightforward, defining asexuality produces mixed viewpoints.
To complicate matters, asexual refers to someone who typically does not pursue sexual relations, meaning on occasion or once in a while is entirely possible. And just because someone identifies as allosexual, which is, again having an attraction to another without factoring in sexual identity, does not mean said person is necessarily sexually active.
Again, human sexuality is complex.
Back to me
The most astonishing discovery I made during my period of celibacy is that I am not entirely certain what my sexual identity entails.
As you can see from my bit above, sexuality is not necessarily easily defined. A one-size-fits-all box, it is not, and I am not entirely certain of my standing or identification.
I am 51. I have always dated and had sexual relationships with men.
Years have passed, and within these years I’ve gone through several transitions. Spirituality has become a staple in my life, and as I have grown, I’ve become more aware of my attraction to people.
Like art, I see people as beautiful works in motion and can appreciate the unique appeal of individuals I encounter.
Openly and honestly, I can say that I am attracted to both men and women.
However, it is not sexually motivated.
Engaging in conversations, sharing life experiences, and discussions involving unique mindsets fascinate me and feed my soul. Connecting with others intellectually and spiritually fills me with a type of joy that I’ve never known.
I feel free.
A hug or a held hand is my ideal physical scenario and there is nothing wrong with that.
I don’t feel like I am missing out on the human experience. In fact, it’s the opposite.
When my daughter says I don’t try to meet people, she is wrong. I love meeting people, but I am not pursuing what much of society pegs as a “Relationship,” meaning sexual.
There are all sorts of relationships; sometimes, I think people forget that.
And I am happy with my life right now how it is.
I suppose if I have to label myself based on the above information, then this is how I identify myself: an asexual allosexual with demisexual tendencies.
Is that a thing?
Does it really matter?
All I know is that for now, I will continue to live my life as a celibate woman and an artful one, I might add, who is living and loving her butterfly exhibit.
One day, my undefined-defined self might embrace sexual specificity and resume sexual activity. It’s not out of the question. And whoever I may or may not end up with will be the right one for me.
But am I abnormal for not having an interest in sex?
I believe many feel similar, but sexuality is personal, complicated, and not necessarily easy to talk about.
That is why I put myself on the frontline to hopefully make it easier for others.
Originally published on 9/30/2023 in Illumination on Medium