Friday, February 16, 2018

The Joy of Celibacy

Celibacy and just Not Getting Any are not the same thing.  Not Getting Any is a lonesome thing, and for the most part not a chosen thing.  Celibacy is something you choose.  I’ve experienced both.

The first half of my young adult life I lived in a religious community, in a communal lifestyle.  There were idealistic young men and women both, my age.  The women lived down the hall in their own room.  There were some times we had to share bathrooms.  Unmarried sex in this particular belief system was considered the worst of all sins.  The worst thing you could do, the kind of thing that could get you kicked out.  The kind of thing you go to Hell for.  Never mind the reasoning behind it.  That was then.  So for about thirteen years I lived in a series of places, with young women, intelligent, strong, often, not always, physically beautiful.  Each quirky in their own way.  It was a lifestyle that tended to attract quirky people - such as me - which over time only made them more interesting.  Celibacy was how you lived in a house, just down the hall from the very thing your loins were longing for.  Pussy.

It was a choice. Being a choice gave it power, it was a strain, a boundary that made you grow as a plant finds a way to grow in a tiny sidewalk crack.  Bonsai trees, before they showed up in supermarkets, were revered in ancient Japan by samurais, because of where they were found in nature.  A natural bonsai tree could be found growing on the side of a cliff, or some such place where a plant had no business being.  The roots were small, because they were growing in cracks in the rock, with what soil gathered there.  They represented an ideal of toughness, of determination to live, a form of art known as Wabi Sabi, seeing the beauty in imperfection.  Celibacy is like that.

When a boundary is created, a line drawn, it is a limit.  It restrains from the possible,  But it also creates an alternate possible.  For me, a young man who never much impressed the ladies, it eliminated the need for sexual competition.  The women didn’t need me to impress them.  They weren’t looking for a boyfriend.  We were brothers and sisters, and that was understood.  This was incredibly liberating.  It was the first time I found a way to get past my own ego and insecurities. I could be their friend.  I could connect with my feelings and express myself in a way usually reserved for gay guys.  We could hear each other.  In those years I learned to really love women.  I love the company of women.  I love the conversation of women. I love what women are. I love the way a room feels when a woman is in it. That is a priceless gift many men never get the chance to have.  I was recently the stage hand for my church’s production of “The Vagina Monologues”.  The women in the cast elected me “Bob”.  When I found out what that was, I felt greatly honored.  You’ll have to look it up.


  1. Heh. That makes sense, if you were a tech guy, though there is a nice guy named Bob in one of the monologues. :)

  2. Bob is the guy who worships the narrator's vagina. He just stares at it in wonder.

    Very insightful post, Garce.

  3. This explains a lot about why I find your writing so accessible and so insightful. You think deeply, and seem to have the ability to read and think like both men and women. This is what attracted me to this website in the first place: your words. And for that, I thank you.

    I married my husband for 2 reasons: he was the best I ever had in the sack (and considering my colorful and rebellious past history, that was quite an accomplishment!) But also he could talk with me on the same level that women talk to each other. He was not afraid to discuss feelings and emotions. He could present himself as vulnerable to me, without any hesitation or embarrassment. And we could talk about thinks that mattered...not just about sports, weather, current events, etc., though we did talk about those things also.

    He told me that when he was growing up, with 3 brothers and 3 sisters, he was the gawky, geeky one, who grew very tall quickly and used to knock things over because he didn't know where his body ended. So he decided to be friends with girls, since they always chose the jerk guys to date. So he became their confidantes...the ones they cried to when their hearts were broken. And his grief that he shared with them was real, partly because he knew he'd treat them better than that, yet they'd never consider him as boyfriend material.

    So I figured it was my lucky night, when I met him. And we've been together ever since. Men who always treat women as "things" don't know what they're missing. Their relationships are superficial, hence always unsatisfying...but they will never be able to figure out why until they "grow up", and begin to think like a human being. Like you do.

    We need more of you in the world, Garce. Look at what "toxic masculinity" has done--the damage is all around us. We need more men willing to put aside their egos and their chest-thumping, in order to achieve our full potential as a species. Otherwise we will destroy ourselves.

  4. Having "come of age" slightly before birth control pills were easily available--my senior year in college the infirmary doctors just began to prescribe them for girls who were formally engaged--I have a misty nostalgia for the days when the possibility of unwanted pregnancy kept dating (some of the time) to the foreplay stage. There was more time for sexual tension, and girls had a good excuse for saying "no."

  5. Girls shouldn't need a reason to say "no." I read a quote in MS magazine years ago, that said, "Sexual freedom is the right to say yes, AND the right to say no." Or, as Melina Mecouri in "Never on a Sunday," said in the movie where she played a town hooker who loves her job, to a man who is mad that he offered her more money, yet she's taking a young man home with her, "In my line of work, I have to like them. I don't like you."

  6. I love this distinction between celibacy and not getting any--so important to remember that there are all kinds of choices to be made around sexuality, as Fiona said.


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