“Why I Renounced Sex”

A short-short story about a man’s decision to become celibate.

Posted May 08, 2017

Awesomoman, Public Domain
Source: Awesomoman, Public Domain

Here is the latest of my short-short stories that are composites of real-life events with psychological or practical implications.

Few men were more sexual than him. In his college residence hall, the women quietly referred to him as Colossus, not because of his size but his ability to perform…and perform…and perform. They also loved that like other “high achievers,” he was a good guy out of bed: respectful, a good listener. So, it is little surprise that he was a psychology major planning to be a therapist specializing in relationship issues.

But in his human sexuality class, he read that while the penis and clitoris have the same number of nerve endings, they’re more concentrated in the clitoris. That results in—all other factors equal—women experiencing more pleasure.

From then on, he noticed that his girlfriends seemed to be deriving more intense pleasure, for longer. Yes, he’d enjoy the experience and have an extraordinary few seconds at orgasm, but overall, women's pleasure seemed greater.

For a while, he rationalized that that was because he was so good and selfless in pleasuring his partners, but after having had sex with almost 20 women and been clear yet tactful to them about what he liked, he concluded women do find sex more pleasurable. He also started to realize that he was prolonging sex not to please himself but her.

Then he thought about all the romantic relationships he had had. Except for the sex, they were less pleasurable than his platonic ones or when he was doing career-related or recreational activities.

He used to think it absurd that anyone would prefer video games or basketball to sex but he started to feel that way. By the time he was 25, romantic relationships had become clearly less important to him than his career, platonic friends, and solo activities.

Then one night, after he had made particularly patient efforts to satisfy his girlfriend, he felt in need of praise after all that effort plus those growing doubts about the net benefit to him of sex. So he asked, “As they say, how was it for you?” She replied, “You really want to know?” He said, “Sure?” somehow still expecting praise. Instead she said, "I’m not sure you’re equipped to satisfy me.”

Shocked, without a word, he got dressed and took a long walk, at the end of which he decided to try being celibate. On his calendar, he made an appointment with himself for six months later, at which point he’d reassess.

Of course, during the six months, he was tempted to resume a sexual life, especially when meeting an attractive woman, but he somehow felt it was worth carrying the experiment to conclusion.

He had expected that as the months went on, abstinence would make him more desirous of a romantic relationship, if only out of horniness, but it was the opposite. He missed sex and romance less and less and started to feel his life was complete just with platonic friends, siblings, recreational life, and most of all, his career. He now understood why many priests, nuns, and monks claim to not miss sex.

He became a psychologist specializing in people with normal libido who chose celibacy, not because of a fear or physical problem but because they were trying to explore the wisdom of that unconventional lifestyle choice.

We all have our biases so it wasn’t surprising that while he made full effort to not push clients in any direction, he, probably unconsciously, was particularly supportive of a client’s desire to be celibate.

So it’s ironic that after a year of that, he had a client whom, for those inexplicable reasons, inflamed him, and she returned sparks toward him. He responded appropriately: “I’m flattered that you find me attractive but it’s unethical for a therapist to be romantically involved with a patient.” She replied, “I heard that six months after we stop working together…”

They are now happily married.

The takeaways

How much if any of your sex life is governed not by your desire but to please your partner?

How much if any of your sex life is governed by societal expectation?

Is there anything about your sex life you’d like to change: Find a romantic partner? Not find one? Change something about the way you and your partner have sex— in frequency or the way you have sex?

Dr. Nemko’s nine books, including his just-published Modern Fables: short-short stories with life lessons are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net

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