“I started having sex when I was in my early 20s. My first sexual partner was a guy I’d been dating for a couple of years and whom I believed I’d end up marrying. When he broke up with me when I was 25, I was devastated. To get over the emotional pain, I became a serial dater.
It didn’t take much for me to go to bed with the men I went out with – if they bought me gifts, complimented me and showed me affection, I was theirs. Between the ages of 25 and 32, I was intimate with more men than I care to remember. Most were one-night stands and the rest were short-term flings.
Numb to love
I hadn’t noticed it at the time but, looking back, I was so hurt from my break-up that I resisted forming emotional connections with the men I dated. I also convinced myself that, if they wanted to be intimate with me, it was because they thought that I was special, lovable and desirable.
A couple of the guys I had flings with actually wanted to take our relationship further, but because I’d put up a wall around my heart, I told them that I wasn’t interested in having anything long-term with them. For seven years, I blocked out any opportunity to, not only find love again but also to make a meaningful connection with someone new. I had sex with random guys to feel good about myself, and I would cut ties before moving on to the next one. I told myself that no man could hurt me if I didn’t give him my heart, and stopped myself from experiencing any deep emotions.
A moment of clarity
When I turned 32, I got close to a guy I met at a work event. I was fond of him and started to consider what it might be like to have a relationship with him. We had sex after a few dates and I convinced myself that I was in love with him, but little did I know that he didn’t feel the same way. After a couple of months of hanging out, he became distant and eventually stopped returning my calls. I felt betrayed and all the emotions from my first break-up came rushing back. I was angry with myself for allowing myself to be used and for thinking that I meant something to this guy. I was angry with him, too – I’d let my guard down for just a short while and allowed myself to feel deeply for him, only to end up being treated like I didn’t matter.
It took that horrible, crushing experience for me to realise how empty I felt inside.For so many years I’d shared my body with so many men, and for what? Those flings only felt good and boosted my ego momentarily. Ultimately, I was not emotionally fulfilled and I didn’t feel like I’d grown or learnt anything about myself from those shallow sexual encounters. I’d denied myself the chance to have a real relationship by sleeping with those guys too soon – I didn’t let them get to know me and I didn’t bother getting to know them. Was it any surprise that I was feeling used, lonely and worthless?
Starting afresh – my no-sex rule
There and then, I challenged myself to be celibate for a year. I wanted to see what it would be like getting to know a man intimately and spending quality time with him without the pressure of sex hanging over our heads. I’ve kept up this challenge now for almost two years. I can’t believe how much better I feel about myself and how much more hopeful I feel about meeting someone with whom to start a meaningful relationship.
I still go on dates, but rather than jump into bed with a new guy on the first night, I spend that outing getting to know him and allowing him to get to know me. If we hit it off and want to see each other again, we make plans for a second date. If we don’t hit it off then we simply don’t go out again – I no longer pressure myself into having sex with a man just to make him like me.
Most of the guys I’ve met so far have been lovely, but there was either no chemistry between us or we had nothing in common, so we didn’t make it past the second or third date. Unfortunately, I’ve also met a couple of men who only wanted sex – I know this because when I told them that I was interested in getting to know them before getting intimate with them, they wanted nothing more to do with me.
While I haven’t met anyone who’s stolen my heart yet, I’m enjoying the dating process and this journey of self-discovery. In under two short years, I’ve learnt so much, about how to embrace and be my true self while on a date, and about why it’s so important to take your time getting to know someone before deciding to open your heart and share your body with him.
I’ve definitely become more discerning these last couple of years, too. In the past, I used to go out with any guy who paid me attention, but now, it takes a pretty special man to score a date with me. I also feel happier and more confident now, knowing that I have so much more to offer a potential partner than just a good time in bed.
I haven’t had sex with anyone for nearly two years now but I don’t miss it at all. Sure, it would be nice to be in a committed and intimate relationship with someone, but I’d rather be alone and celibate than to give my body to a guy who doesn’t care about me and then feel bad about it later. As strange as it sounds, celibacy is so much more satisfying than having sex with multiple partners.