A couple of months ago, I had a blog post about my sex life or lack thereof, go semi-viral. If you haven't read that one yet, make sure to check it out. Since then, my inbox has been flooded with many different opinions, questions, and even concerns. A few of my 'favorite' comments from a Yahoo article written about me:
I haven't read the post since the day I published it but if I could clarify one thing, it would be: I'm abstaining from sex until marriage, I am not embarking upon a journey of lifelong celibacy. Apologies for my ignorance in differentiating the two. Also, quite a few people believed me to be illiterate (see codeswitching) and that when I spoke about "humanizing my brothers", I was talking about my biological brothers...very disappointing assumptions might I add. Aside from the negative and ridiculous commentary, most responses encouraged ,at minimum, a healthy dialogue. Through the abundance of healthy dialogue, the question I've received most is :
While I'll definitely make sure to share some 'practical' and personal tips, I have to give the primary answer, which is, the relationship that I have with God. He changed something in my heart that simply removed my desire to tie myself to someone outside of marriage. Notice, I didn't say that I have no desire to have sex. Even when I read scripture warning against having sex outside of marriage, it was how I felt inside that sustained me. As I have come to better understand the nature of my Heavenly Father, I know that anything He instructs is for my benefit and out of His pure and endless love for me. Keeping that at the forefront of my mind has strengthed my confidence in His promises and the reality that He knows the desire of my heart and the right person will come along at the right time. We will get married and we will have lots of sex :)
I think the specific Spiritual truths that have grounded me in this area will have to be a separate blog post but I wanted to share some practical ways that I have stayed celibate for the past five years.
1. No Dating
The first two years of my abstinence journey, I didn't go on many dates. I'd made a decision that I wanted to clear my mind, work on myself and heal for however long that took. I didn't want to put a timeline on it, I knew that I would know when I was ready to explore a relationship again. While I did encounter one or two cool guys who wanted to pursue me, I made it clear to them what I was looking for at that time, which was myself. And to be honest, I wasn't getting a lot of male attention during this time, and I believe that was God. He knew that He and I needed some alone time and we certainly got that. Many nights were spent with my best friends, certain weeks with my family and when I was alone I was crying, praying or both. I needed this time to face my pain and build a foundation with God. I needed to make sure I understood what I wanted out of life, what I would be looking for in a future partner and how to operate happily on my own.
I feel like this is a common theme with those I know who are abstaining from sex but I think it looks different for everyone. I mentioned before that I didn't date for quite some time but in the last year or so, I've had a substantial amount of suitors approach me. Dating in my adult life has been interesting, to say the least, and honey, let me tell you, I have stories for days! One thing I've noticed is that people these days move very fast and because of this I've decided to set specific boundaries. For example, I exclusively meet up with guys in public places and I like to keep it more casual than romantic. I engage in a manner in which we can talk and get to know each other in a way that is comfortable for me. I suggest a lot of coffee, a lot of walks around the city etc. Particularly with men I don't know, I often turn down brunch or dinner just because I've found that those settings can breed certain expectations. I don't go to men's houses, invite them to mine or drink with them, these are more so safety precautions. People are crazy. These are boundaries that have worked for me, you'll have to figure out what works for you.
To be honest, it's been really easy for me to be abstinent and a lot of these boundaries haven't even been necessary. Aside from the lack of sex, there has also been a lack of kissing because I just haven't encountered anyone that I want to kiss. I'm not sure if this is a gift or if I'm a weirdo but I think the challenging end of this will manifest when I'm in an actual relationship. I'm going to want to rub on bae and kiss him and sit all up on him at the movies. Anyone else's love language physical touch? Pray for me.
Boundaries, I believe, are most successful when you know and are honest with yourself. If every time you've gone to your date's house you sleep with them, and now you want to be abstinent, then you probably shouldn't go over to their house. If every time you get alone with your date and they ask you to come home with them, you just can't say no, then maybe group outings are for you. Know yourself, know your worth.
I want open with, accountability only works when you actually want it. I have a handful of friends that I can call, be super honest with without judgment, who will always tell me what I need to hear as opposed to what I want to hear. One Christmas, I was going back to my hometown, where my ex-boyfriend lives. Even though I KNEW, I didn't need to see him, I started to make moves toward making that happen. Before it did, I called my 'accountability' friends to have them talk me out of it. I was immediately met with brutal honesty, painful reminders of the past and encouragement about the future. While I was visiting my hometown, I got texts from them checking in on me, calling to make sure I was doing ok etc. You might be thinking that this is invasive or overkill for a grown woman but I have certain goals and I need people in my life who are going to remind me of the long-term impact of my short-term decisions. I've had to humble myself in this area, be transparent with others about my weaknesses and be unashamed about that fact that sometimes the support you receive from others is what makes you strong.
4. Guard Your Eyes and Ears
When I think about T.G.I.T on ABC, I think about guarding my eyes and ears. There are pretty steamy sex scenes on Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. And depending on where your mindset is that day, those little scenes will have you thinking about all kinds of things. My point is, I have limited this kind of content in my life. We live in such a hypersexualized culture and sex is everywhere and it can be difficult to avoid, so I control it where I can. The Instagram explore page is a perfect way to get all caught up and horny. Many scantily clad women, many shirtless men. I personally, cannot follow whatever 'sexy black men' pages because I will feel some sort of way. This is is just me, I know it's not anyone else. I know that a lot of people can listen to Chris Brown's 'Privacy' and not think about sex. Watching porn while being abstinent definitely, doesn't tempt you to have actual sex. I know. It's just me. (sarcasm)
5. Stay Busy and Rest in the Lord
Seems like an oxymoron but it's the truth. When I'm operating in my purpose, when I'm filling up my cup with the love of my Savior, when I'm giving 100% at my job, when I'm spending quality time with my closest friends and family, I don't think about sex that much. When I'm running on empty, filling my mind with everything but the word, neglecting relationships with those I love and stressing about my future is when I start considering throwing it all away and hopping on Bumble. Not that I have anything against Bumble, but I would be in it for the wrong reasons.
The Bible has many scriptures about the consequences of being idle. So, get a hobby, join a small group, explore the city, plan a vacation. Cross some things off of your bucket list. Call your mom. Rest in knowing that God has your best interest at heart, He has so much more for you than you could ever think up in your head and He is waiting for you to seek His face so He can whisper to you in the Secret Place.