Why celibacy is not just for monks, couples can not do it too – Jim Duffy

A celibate friendship in a relationship is just as important as what goes on between the sheets, writes Jim Duffy.

We may all benefit from a period of monk-like abstinence from sex, says Jim Duffy (Picture: Stephen Mansfield)
We may all benefit from a period of monk-like abstinence from sex, says Jim Duffy (Picture: Stephen Mansfield)

Sex. Sex. Sex. It is everywhere. Do you recall going on holiday to the likes of Blackpool, Southport, Poole, Skegness or Morecambe and seeing the newsagent stands with the “sexy” postcards. Usually some pathetic looking older man eyeing up a scantily clad, always blonde female. There would be a “saucy” caption that was designed to make us titter. Add to this globally renowned Page Three spreads.

Opening up a redtop when I was younger was a tricky affair. As soon I turned over the front page, there would be a semi-naked model staring out from the page opposite. Not a great idea if you mum or dad was sitting at the table adjacent to you! And now even more sex is everywhere. Or more specifically the pressure of sex.

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Only this week, Kylie Jenner, one of the Kardashian sisters, has been crowned a billionaire. Her endorsements of beauty products etc have made her mega-rich at the ripe old age of 21. The whole Kardashian family is loaded to be fair. But, the point to note is that they have built much of this on not wearing a great deal.

Kim Kardashian, the older sister, indeed attempted to “break the internet” with a naked photo of her bum. Add to this the multitude of porn channels, web cams for sex and so on and we are bombarded and pressured into the “sex age”.

But, what happens if one opts out of all this sex malarkey? What does it mean if one turns one’s back on nookie and the whole marketing of sex? That’s right, no nuptials or oats ... how do you fancy becoming celibate?

As a much younger male, there was indeed a raging orchestra of hormones playing a Wagner symphony throughout my body. But, as I get older, the orchestra is more like a four-piece in a Leith pub on a Friday night and, on some days, a duet.

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Sex is important to me at different stages of my journey, like many of you, but should it be the be all and end all? I still see the selling and marketing of sex everywhere – on billboards, pop-ups on my laptops and in magazines.

And when there are couples’ nights out sex, always comes up at some point, albeit awkwardly or in jest. It kind of makes me tone deaf to the idea of celibacy. But, there may come a day through choice or otherwise that celibacy becomes the only option. I just wonder if I would ever choose it by my own volition before that day arrives.

Let’s be clear, celibacy can be a choice, but it doesn’t need to be an absolute decision that can never be reversed. Some people choose to be celibate for six months, for example, then get back in the saddle.

While others may opt for a more long-term approach, tied into religion or philosophy or values. But, making a proactive, informed decision to become celibate either when single or in a relationship takes effort, I would suggest.

In a relationship, there is pressure to have sex. It seems that just like we need to eat a good diet, we need to have a healthy sex life.

But, I’m pretty sure many of you will agree, the same way we have sometimes eaten a bad diet, we have also had our fair share of bad sex that doesn’t really do anything for either partner – as opposed to that ground-breaking, amazing sex that we see portrayed in so many movies and TV dramas.

Some of them almost shame me into trying so much harder, just to keep up with the fiction. But, perhaps taking this pressure away may open a release valve to another more fulfilling aspect of relationships.

A celibate friendship in a relationship is just as important as what goes on between the sheets or at the swingers club. Writing letters to each other or poems can mean so much and be just as intimate. Sending cards, having meaningful conversations and smiles can create that warmth in a relationship that may potentially trump the “afterglow” of sexual intimacy.

Performing mundane tasks together, making them fun, can engender a closeness. And of course sharing a meal or a good walk is vitally important time spent between two friends. So, where do these figure on your sexometer? Do you invest enough time in these important behaviours to show each other how much you care, rather than a quickie on a Friday night after a pizza and a bottle of Chardonnay? It does make one think...

There is, it seems, much agonising over what one’s sex life is like. Perhaps it’s not what it used to be or what we would love it to be. But, those who make a conscious decision to have a period of celibacy, whether in a relationship or not, may reap many benefits. Not least the freedom from the pressure to have or provide good sex that never really hits the climax of the TV drama.

After all, in today’s world, are we not constantly tired and over-worked with our bodies filled with poor nutrition, which contributes to not always feeling “in the mood” to hit the high notes?

Perhaps some time with a partner to explore other activities together may reveal more about us to each other. It can even lead to a more secure and open relationship as the “elephant in the room” of having to have sex is removed.

It will certainly not be for everyone, but it makes you wonder what an intentional six-month period of celibacy would be like. It might be the making of you.