We’d had all of two disagreements in the time we’d dated, and I had thought the latest had to do with each of us traveling, figuring when we were in person and could have a proper talk, we could resolve our differences.
We did the first half of that. We had The Talk, and I thought it went well. Though I write about sex and relationships, and love to talk in general, relationship talks are one of my least favorite activities. They bring up all my insecurities and make me feel like I’m on trial, but I’m working on it.
It was after The Talk, during which I’d asked, “Are you trying to say you don’t want to see me anymore?” and he’d said, “No,” that he simply stated, “I feel like we should break up.” The end.
Maybe other women would have tried to argue with him, bargain with him, beg him, but I was too stunned and hurt to do that. His mind seemed made up, so I said goodbye, declining his offer to walk me to the subway, determined not to cry in front of him. The next day, I stopped following him on Twitter and Foursquare and Facebook (because who wants to know the every move of someone who wants nothing to do with you?).
Maybe that was extreme. There’s a curious part of me that wishes I could secretly Internet stalk him, but I know that would be pointless. I have plenty of exes who I’m now friends (or at least, acquaintances) with, but we were never friends in the first place. We met, had our first date four days later, and settled into couplehood.
Which brings me to now. I’ve had one date since the breakup, with a friend I’ve hooked up with on and off over the last few years. I was feeling rejected on many levels, especially sexually, suspecting that the good sex I’d thought I was having with my ex was only good for me, so for my friend to proposition me made me feel sexy again.
The New York Post recently ran a story by Mandy Stadtmiller touting celibacy as the hot new trend among young women. (Gee, I wonder why no men were mentioned?) Those interviewed cited celibacy as a way of getting ahead in their careers without distraction. Hephzibah Anderson, author of the memoir Chastened: The Unexpected Story of My Year Without Sex, said: “By tuning out some of that hyper-sexualized, porn-y clamor, you find
yourself tuning into a sort of a subtler romance and being attracted to a different kind of guy...It broadens the erotic spectrum having a contrast. Otherwise it’s all full-on the whole time.” This comes on the heels of none other than Lady Gaga publicly declaring herself celibate and urging her younger fans to try it too.
I both agree and disagree with Anderson. I do think taking the time to figure out if you truly want to be having sex is important. It’s very easy to get swept away because someone’s into you, or you feel like
it’s been “too long.” These aren’t “bad” reasons per se, but sometimes we choose partners poorly, without looking at the warning signs that they may not be able to provide what we’re truly looking for. I disagree with her that we’re all sitting around succumbing to what we’re being told by pop culture. I give women more credit than that.
Interestingly, performer Katie Jean Arnold, who was trotted out as the celibacy poster child by the Post, gave a very pro-sexuality spin to her story in an interview for Lemondrop.com calling it “a
complete energy shift,” and saying, “Before, I was viewing each guy I met as a potential partner. Do I like him? Does he like me Blah, blah, blah. Now there is no thought about that, because I am not doing that right now.”
The gist is that somehow, sex is damaging, difficult, bad for you. Sound familiar? There’s always a sex scold out there ready to tell all of us, teenagers and adults alike (and especially women), that sex is dangerous and harmful, if not physically, then emotionally. This way of thinking never stops to consider that sex itself can boost our moods, provide physical release and make us feel better about ourselves.
I truly believe that, but while part of me wants to get out there and start dating again, I know I’m not ready. I’m not lounging around moping, but random little things, like eating sushi or seeing a Pearl Jam video, remind me of my ex and make me sad because I do miss him.
At the same time, I can honestly say I’m no longer attracted to him. Once he’d indicated that he wasn’t that into me, I lost my erotic interest. I’m grateful because it would be way worse to feel miserable about being dumped and still want to fuck him.
The truth is, right now I’m not horny at all. I get turned on when my desire is focused on a specific person: I want to do him/her, not, I need to get laid. When I’m feeling down, I just can’t get
it up. I want to. I enjoyed my sex date with my friend. I was able to put aside being dumped and get lost in our D/s role-playing, but that’s not a permanent solution. I’m looking for a real relationship, one where we can share sex...and everything else.
There’s a big difference between temporary celibacy, whether for an established period of time or just until one feels ready, and urging everyone to do it. Some people deal with breakups by going out and having as much sex as they can. Neither is necessarily better than the other.
The problem is, I’m having trouble even fantasizing, which is tough since I have a slew of erotica stories to write. I have to think about sex, even when I don’t want to. Yet that too can be healing and helpful, because the stories I’m finding myself writing are about couples experimenting and being bold and daring in their sexual play. That’s what I wish I were doing right now, and I’m confident that will happen again—when I’m ready.
I don’t want to feed into the idea that celibacy is the path to happiness or success, because there’s a very slippery slope from that to thinking sex should only happen within monogamous, heterosexual marriage. I’d imagine anyone reading this site knows that’s not true. But even the most sex-positive folks sometimes need a break from sex. I’d rather wait until I meet someone who drives me as crazy as my ex did (we were once so turned on we almost did it in his hallway) than just go looking for any random person to bed.