We live in a time when instant gratification has become the norm. From nuking our food in the microwave to making purchases at the click of a button (is Amazon Prime not the plug?). We need things now and if we can’t have what we want immediately, we don’t want it at all.
Abstaining from sex isn’t for everyone, especially those of us who have experienced great sex at any point in our lives. A single sexual experience can leave us believing it’s the world’s greatest gift, but just like all those things we resort to for instant gratification, we can’t truly find happiness or a sense of self-worth in those experiences. In other words, that pleasure that we get from our sexual encounters is only temporary, so we feel great for a moment, but what about long-term?
Celibacy is defined as the state of abstaining from any sexual relations. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, there are some things that you should consider. First, consider why it is you want to take a shot at celibacy. People abstain for a number of reasons, some of which can be spiritual or for the sake of physical and mental health. For me, I had enough of meaningless encounters and I was also seeking spiritual soundness. I thought the challenge of refraining from my norm would help me achieve this spiritual soundness and that I could walk away feeling whole again.
You should also consider how eliminating sex would affect your mind and body. I did some “research” to learn what studies said about the physical and mental effects of celibacy because I was no expert. Certain articles proved to be pretty discouraging. Trying to find articles online that supported celibacy was like trying to find an honest person in Hollywood, and a year later it still seems like most articles I find are anti-celibacy. Had I taken those findings to heart and aborted my mission to celibacy, I would still be an emotional wreck.
A few articles that I read, coming from sensational sources, highlight the cons of going celibate. They discuss how celibacy has a negative effect on the immune system, how it can drive the libido down, how it can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and how it can lead to a spike in blood pressure. The few sources I found in favor of celibacy actually discuss conflicting research and place emphasis on the fact that you will drastically lower your risk of STDs and UTIs. This year was the first year I ever caught the flu, and I rarely get sick, so maybe there is some truth to what I found through my “instant research”.
You must also consider how this choice will affect your relationships. This is a decision that you must make for yourself, but if you’re in a committed relationship you may want to discuss this with your partner. The decision was easy for me because I wasn’t, and am not, in a committed relationship, so there was no one else to consider. You can’t force celibacy on your partner. If you’re uncomfortable having this discussion with your partner, maybe you should then consider whether this person is truly for you.
Finally, you can and should consider an action plan. The “taking it day-by-day” thing doesn’t really work, especially if you lack self-control; I know from experience. This go-round was not my first time declaring myself celibate, but it was the first time that I consciously made an effort to stick to my guns. I opted out of functions and situations that I knew had the potential to put me in tempting circumstances. I cut off communication with my current partner and any potential partners (you know, the folks I could only see myself with physically and not long-term). I also made the decision to take a break from dating until I felt I was truly in tune with my decision to abstain.
The sexual experience is indeed a very natural thing, but it does have a deeper effect on us, whether we like to admit it or not. On one hand, sex can be a stress reliever, but on the other hand, the experience (and state of the physical relationship) can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. My personal experience tells me that I made the right choice.
Since giving up sex, I’ve been able to let go of my desire for instant gratification in every aspect of my life. I drive differently, I eat differently, I process things differently. I picked up new hobbies that encourage personal growth and I’ve never been less stressed and more productive. Again, celibacy is not for everyone, but if you find yourself seeking more from life, it may be something to contemplate.
Jasmine Danielle is a Los Angeles based dancer and fitness trainer. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied with FiTour, the National Federation of Personal Trainers, and the Equinox Group Fitness Training Institute. Jasmine is currently a Group Fitness Instructor for Equinox, Everybody Los Angeles, and Sandbox Fitness. Her fitness modalities include ballet, dance cardio, barre fitness, TRX, treadmill interval training, cardio kickboxing, jump rope, indoor cycling, and metabolic conditioning.