A couple of months ago, I was catching up with a male friend of mine who knew me back when I was throwin’ it back. OK, I guess I need to qualify that a little better because, he has never known me in the biblical sense; what I mean is, he knew me back when I was sexually active. “OK, so how many years is it about to be?” he asked. What’s funny is he sounded more stressed out about my abstinence than I did! It’s actually going to be 15 years this coming January 9 and chile, CHILE. I never would’ve thought. As far as my own journey, you can read about some of it via an article that I wrote on the topic a whopping three years ago (“I've Been Abstinent For 12 Years. Here's How.”).
And while I know that a lot of y’all probably think that it is beyond insane that I’ve been “without” for so long when I write about sex so much, to that I’ll just say — when I was having sex, I was having sex (check out “14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners”). Plus, I did used to work with a ministry that people out of porn (check out “Working For A Porn Ministry Got Me Over Watching Porn”) and I do work with couples for a living as a marriage life coach. All of this can serve as a myriad of cautionary tales.
Don’t get me wrong — I like sex. I LIKE SEX A LOT (yes, I am yelling it!). It’s just that my season of abstinence has taught me how to approach it differently, including how to see it from more angles than merely relational maintenance and physical pleasure. The 15-year bit (or bid — LOL) is more about, the more I learn about myself, the purposes of sex and watch how the world is damn near losing its mind over the “surface level benefits” of it, I just want to make sure that I don’t return to the hamster wheel from which I came. Not only that but I value “her” (you know what I mean) more than I ever have.
Plus, it can help me to share all of what I’m about to say from so-much-clearer perspective. Because while I get that most of y’all will never (EVER) wanna say you’ve gone without some good-good for 15 years of your life, I do hope (if you’re single, of course) that you’ll consider at least a few months to a year of abstinence at some point in the game. Here’s why.
1. You Can Fully “Detox” Your Past
For the most part, I’m cool with all of my past sex partners. I’m not saying that we’re homies or anything yet there is enough peace between us to the point that we can run into each other and genuinely be happy to see each other too (check out “Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour”; it helped). In fact, not too long ago, I ran into a past partner and we chopped it up in a grocery store parking lot for about an hour or so. It was actually really refreshing to be in his space, laugh and joke, and then walk away not…feeling some type of way, especially since he was one of my “climbing the ceiling” guys (it was good and I ain’t ashamed to say it). While we were both fully aware that we had been sexually involved for a few years back in the day, it now seemed like a lifetime ago and whatever happened/didn’t happen back then was pretty much irrelevant now.
The same thing goes for my first love. After us both emotionally going round and round and round for decades (literally), I finally came to a place where I didn’t want to try and relive anything. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that until you learn your lesson, the universe will keep on bringing it back to you. Well, there has always been a part of me who wanted us to get back together because he was young the first round and I wanted to because I was “green” the first round. Sex was not exempt from this. However, because I have been able to purge him out of me — him, along with the other 13 guys — I can now see things, not from the angle of being on my back (pun intended) but a 30,000 feet view of sexual sobriety. I have been able to separate how the sex made me feel from how the relationship did and why I chose the people that I did. It has been revelatory like a mug too.
Detoxing is literally about going through a process of getting toxins out of your system so that you can overcome physical as well as psychological dependence on something — or someone. It’s real easy to say (or think) that you don’t need to do this when it comes to sex and people…until you’re actually abstinent and can look at things from the perspective that it provides.
2. You Can Figure Out What You Want Besides Good…Well, You Know
Another article that I once wrote for the platform is about casual sex and why I think that term is one of the greatest oxymorons of our time (you can check it out here). One of the reasons why it literally grates my soul is because casual means things like “without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing” and “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned” and even if, for some reason, you see sex this way, why in the world would you want someone to approach you in this kind of headspace and heart space?
When you’re out here getting good D, you can kind of rationalize your way out of this point, even if it’s ultimately to your detriment, because sometimes how a person makes you feel during the act of sexual intimacy causes you to think that they value you in other ways when that isn’t always, automatically or necessarily the case at all. I believe I’ve shared with y’all before that I’ve got a male friend of mine who once told me (after I asked him how guys can just have sex with folks and not care about them whatever), “Do you think it’s intimate if I jack off in the shower? Jack off in the shower, jack off in a girl. One just feels better than the other when there is no connection.”
You know, we’ve really gotta free ourselves from thinking that just because we want sex to affect or alter our dynamic with someone then that means that it will. We also need to take some personal accountability for when we ignore what I just said and things don’t go as planned.
Abstinence played a huge role in me getting — and I mean, really getting — these points into the depths of my spirit. It’s also a part of the reason why I can write about sex all day long, sometimes like I just had it last night, and not feel rushed to run out and get some, just to do so. I’ve had good sex — great sex, even — multiple times. What I have only had a handful of, though, is holistically healthy and fulfilling relationships. And like I say often until there is a condom for the heart, I have to make sure that I protect — and by “protect”, I mean fully value — all of me. More has to be good than just the d--k.
Abstinence has helped to raise this bar. Exponentially so.
3. You Can Get Your Health Fully on Track
I do interviews fairly often. Whenever the topic of my past sex life comes up, something that I am sometimes asked is what my "ultimate low” was. Now that I’ve made peace with not having children, I’d probably have to say that my four abortions top the list (check out “Why I Named The Children I Aborted”). Another sucky time was when I found out that I had chlamydia, mono, and strep throat, all at the same time, and was told by my doctor that the STD appeared to have been dormant in my system for a couple of years (chile). Oh, and then there’s the Thanksgiving week when I had unprotected sex with three of my exes (by “exes”, I mean, one ex-boyfriend and two former sex partners). I’m not sure why I did that. What I can say is the sex with all three was physically great in different ways and I remember just not wanting to do a lot of thinking or feeling during that time.
Anyway, during those seasons (and honestly, so many other times too), between bladder infections (check out “BDE: Please Let The ‘It Needs To Be Huge’ Myth Go”), yeast infections (condoms and I weren’t always the best of friends), playing around with different kinds of birth control, pregnancies and pregnancy scares, abortion recovery — my body was pretty worn out. I needed some time to just…be to myself, get to know my body (check out “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey” and “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) and get my pH and hormones back on track. The last time I had sex, I was 32 and I must say that from about 36 on, my reproductive health is better than it’s ever been. Honestly, my health, period, is better than it’s ever been.
Sometimes you need a season of abstinence, just to learn about your grown woman self from a physical- and health-related standpoint. You need time to prioritize your well-being outside of sex with a man so that you can understand your womanhood on a whole ‘nother level.
4. You Can Reconcile Your Sexuality with Your Spirituality
Chalk it up to my age if you want to. Maybe my church upbringing has something to do with it too. But to me, it’s really sad how much people think that sex is ONLY a physical act. It’s like folks are out here really thinking that they are no more than talking dogs in heat (which is a part of the reason why I will never get down with calling men “dogs” or us “bitches;” there are many ways subconscious “programming” affects and infects us) when actually, for us humans, sex is supposed to be out so much more than that.
While, on some levels, unfortunately, a lot of us tend to only associate things being spiritual with them being about a particular religion, you can check out articles like “7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone”, “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?” and “Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit” to know that I think it goes way past that. For instance, what I’ve oftentimes read is the spirit is defined as being our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity.
And while yes, I do believe, in part because the Bible says so (I Corinthians 6:16-20 — Message), that there is some sacredness to sex, even if you move past holy books (because the Torah and Quran pretty much advocate for the same points about sex as the Bible does), shoot the mere fact that copulation is an act that can create new human life — doesn’t that mean that it deserves to be approached from a very spiritual space? Doesn’t it make sense that it can affect — and, if we’re not careful, even infect — things like our intellect and emotions…that, if we’re not careful, it can cultivate fear, that it definitely taps into our passions and, it can even expand how we see things creatively?
Sometimes, when you’re too busy out here having sex, you can’t really process things on this kind of level. Committing to a season of abstinence to pray, meditate and consider how it is affecting your life on a spiritual level? That is never not a good thing to do.
5. You Can Define What Good Sex Is to/for You
A couple of articles that I’d like you to check out when you get a chance are “Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner”, “What If The Sex Is Great? But The Relationship Sucks.” and “What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be”. Oh, and one more —“Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?”. Back when I first became sexually active with my first love and then with, as my first book calls it, another guy who was my first lust, sex was super fascinating to me because I was discovering so many things that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of that, I wasn’t really wondering if sex was good FOR me or not; since it was good TO me, that’s all I really cared about.
Oh, but let a little bit of time and a higher sense of self come into the mix and you really do start to ask yourself — both in and outside of the bedroom — if the things that you are doing are actually good for your mind, body and spirit long-term. When it comes to sex specifically, if it’s doing more for you other than making you feel good for a few minutes…you really begin to ask yourself if the days, weeks, and months following can confirm that an hour of your time was really worthwhile.
Only you can answer that. What I will say is when something is good FOR you, it makes you holistically a better person. It doesn’t just make you feel good, it helps to elevate you as a human being. When it comes to this point, not just the act of sex needs to be factored in, so does who you’re having sex with. Again, only you can answer this question; to this, what I will say is you tend to be biased when you’re actually having sex. Going without for a season can help you to be far more objective — about the act and your partner.
6. You Can Figure Out How Sex Should “Fit” into Your Future
One of the main questions that I get asked about my abstinence is when do I think it will end? Ideally marriage, mostly because I’ve done it in every other relational dynamic (including engagement; my fiancé died a long time ago). I just like the level of commitment that comes with that type of union. Plus, this culture is getting stranger and stranger in that lane and the STDs just keep getting more and more resistant to treatment since I was active. We’ll see, though, because something else that life has taught me is, you really do need to be careful about the use/misuse of “always” and “never”. I’d like to be married but I’m in no rush to jump a broom (another article for another time) and so…like I said, we’ll see.
I will say this, though — never again will I take a casual, flippant, or even popular-in-this-society approach to sex. I know, far too well, how an act in the present can totally alter my future. It’s happened a myriad of times before. These days, sex needs to come with as much inner peace as it does physical pleasure. Until I’m as sure as possible that it will play out that way…I’m good.
As for you, whether it’s a couple of months, a year, or more, I promise you that once you return to sex, you too will think about if how you’re doing it and who you’re doing it with is best for you as it relates to who you are, where you are in your life and what you want for yourself, moving forward. A part of the reason why is because a season of abstinence is actually about “reprogramming yourself” to think long and hard with the future in mind. It’s about processing how you want sex to fit into your lifestyle as you continue to evolve.
This was a lot. I already know. Yet you know what? Contrary to popular belief (or ignorance), SEX IS A LOT. Refraining, even just for a little bit, can never be a bad thing when you see all of the good that can come from it. So, as you prepare to go into another year, at least give being abstinent some thought. Anything that can cause you to become a better person is always worth it, even if it takes some getting used to…right? Most definitely.
I am certainly a testament to that.
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