On Not Having Sex

Three months of sleeping alone yield some surprising conclusions

The last time I had sex was July 8. It sounds severe to state it that way, but it's been on my mind. I share this so those of you who imagine me screwing day and night know you're probably having more sex than I am. It's not a contest, but sometimes it feels that way. I'm OK with this state of affairs, for now at least. Sure, part of me wishes I were having sex on a regular basis, but not just for the sake of having sex. What I want has changed over the years—in my early twenties, I was content to sleep with anyone who struck my fickle fancy, but in the last year or two, something has changed, and I want more. I could easily get laid for the sake of not reaching the four-months-without-sex mark, but what's the point? Do I really need another notch in my belt?

We're conditioned to think we should be having sex as often as possible, and for a while I believed that. I measured my self-worth by how many people I could convince to sleep with me, regardless of the results. I'm all for sexual experimentation and proudly claim every last one of my many dalliances; they've made me into the person I am today. But I'm entitled to change, and now I want the whole package—someone I can talk to, confide in, hold hands and be geeky with, and with whom I can have hot, mind-blowing sex.

What do I miss the most? In part it's the raw physical excitement, the way sex can recharge my body, leave me breathless, orgasmic, my body on high alert. But even more, I miss the kissing, the cuddling, the tenderness, because what I long for most of all is sex within a relationship. Not necessarily the "true love forever" kind, but one that encompasses more than physical compatibility. A lover may know how to push my buttons in bed, but if he or she can't comfort me, make me laugh, and be a trusted friend, my sexual interest wanes.

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  • I haven't abstained out of any desire for ideological or moral purity but due to a combination of travel, illness, busyness, and mainly, lack of willing partners, or rather, lack of willing partners I'm attracted to. Clearly, I could find someone to get me laid if that were my sole concern, but it's not. It's also a little scary; the longer I go without sex, the more it seems like a really big deal. Sometimes, this worries me. Will I remember how to do it? Will I still be good at it? Is there something wrong with me? Does it make me a less worthy or capable sex columnist if I'm not constantly out exploring every new sexual frontier? I can't answer any of these questions yet, but I have faith that my heart and mind will guide me.

    My friend E. hadn't had sex for seven months, so her friends set her up with a guy who'd been similarly chaste for what was intended to be a one-night stand. They've now been together for three years. When I told her it's been three months for me, she scoffed. "Three months is nothing—try seven!" But the issue is less the amount of time than what it signifies. For me, it means I've been prioritizing other areas of my life, what my friend L. calls "dating yourself."

    There's also the possibility that the next person I sleep with may be the last. While it's not likely, I'm willing to consider the possibility, which certainly makes me more choosy. I can easily see myself settling down, moving in with someone, and raising kids in a few years (yes, Alexis, even if that utterly ruins my "street cred"). Also, just because I'm not having sex with someone else doesn't mean I don't experience sexual pleasure. I do—on my own, and I'm not going to weigh the pros and cons of masturbation versus partnered sex; it's not an either-or proposition.

    There are a handful of people I'd love to have sex with—in my fantasies we mesh perfectly, complementing each other in and out of the bedroom. I feel like my random hookups might somehow disappoint them; there's nothing like telling your crush you went home with someone else, especially when you'd trade what often winds up being so-so sex with your partner du jour for one sweet, soft kiss from the person you fall asleep dreaming of. I realize you can't tell what someone will be like in bed until you're actually there; the sparks may fizzle once you finally hit the sheets. I'm willing to take that risk, but the person has to be worth it, has to be someone I could see going on a date with or bringing to a party. I don't want someone who's only good in the sack. If all we have in common is mutual lust, somehow, that's just not good enough anymore.

    There was an article in a recent issue of Jane magazine in which the author went without sex for a whole month, and by the end she made it sound like she'd almost be willing to quit her job for one simple fuck. That may be true for her, but as horny as I may get, I can resist the momentary urges in the hopes that someone worth waiting for is out there.

    Abstaining from sex, whether deliberately or due to a lack of available partners, is different from giving up drinking or going on a diet, though the feelings of withdrawal may be similar. Sex, however, is not a thing; it doesn't taste or feel the same every time. The beauty of sex is that it's always new, and if you pay attention it can reveal nuances you'd never have expected. Or it may just scratch a momentary itch, relieve tension and horniness, provide some fun and orgasmic pleasure. Maybe I'll opt for a simple roll in the hay if the mood strikes, while continuing to search for my soul mate.

    I know my present sexless state could change in an instant. By the time you read this, I may have gotten laid and be happily ensconced in a private sexual bubble. Much as I hate uncertainty, I've had to accept it in this arena. I need to relax and forget about counting the days and focus on living my life to the fullest. For now, I've packed up my T-shirt bearing the word "SLUTTIER," but I haven't thrown it away just yet. Maybe soon I'll be able to take it out of retirement. Maybe not. Only time will tell. I'll be sure to keep you posted.


    Please visit rachelkramerbussel.com

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