How Important Is Sex? My Journey Through Celibacy and Dating

May 31, 2012 ‐ By Liz Lampkin


Couple embracing


How important is sex to a man? Would he be willing to forgo sex in a relationship? A few years ago I decided to take a hiatus from dating to regain focus of my life as a single woman. I didn’t want to engage in any type of relationship with the opposite sex because I needed time to learn how to balance everything that was going on in my life.  With this hiatus, I realized that I subconsciously and consciously made the decision to practice celibacy. I say I made this decision subconsciously and consciously because during this time, subconsciously, I did want to have sex, but I didn’t want to deal with the emotional and possible physical consequences that come along with it, and I didn’t want to have another meaningless sexual experience. Consciously, I had plenty of options and chances to indulge in sexual intercourse, but I didn’t, and that’s when I realized I was going to try and be celibate. After this realization, I decided to do some soul searching to really understand why I was celibate, and to decide whether or not I would stand firm on this decision.

During my soul searching, I reflected back on each of my relationships, and I discovered that I was sexually intimate with the men I was involved with before I had a chance to be intimate with them. I didn’t take the necessary time to learn who they were and develop a close and personal connection with them for the people they were before I developed a connection with them sexually simply because I was physically attracted to them. I also realized that I went into each relationship with my feelings and not my faith, which in turn led me to be misguided. After this discovery, I made the decision to forgo any sexually intimate interaction, and remain celibate until I am married. The beginning of this journey wasn’t difficult because I was on a hiatus from dating. It almost seemed easy and unreal, but when I decided to go back into dating, things got real. I met a wonderful man that I seemed to have everything in common with. We liked the same foods, we communicated well with each other, we share the same favorite color, and on and on. Most importantly, we both wanted to start our new relationship as friends.

I recall one evening when I was on the phone with my new male ‘friend’. We were engaged in a great conversation when the subject of celibacy came up. I shared with him that I have the honor of teaching a class on celibacy very soon, and I told him that I was nervous about it. He then told me that I would do fine, and as he started another sentence he abruptly stopped and asked if I was celibate. I replied with a nervous, yet firm yes. He immediately replied “Oh, oh no, I can’t do that…yeah, we are definitely going to be just good friends.” I said okay, no problem, and started to move forward with the conversation. While moving on to a different topic, I noticed the tone in our conversation went from upbeat and funny to slow and drab. Where there were no awkward moments of silence in our conversations before, there were now more than enough to make up for it in this one. I could tell my friend was uneasy about what I told him, but what did it matter? We were just friends anyway, right? So my decision to be celibate would not affect him in any way, right? Wrong.

I believe my friend thought we were going to develop a great friendship that would lead into an even greater monogamous relationship; and with a relationship comes sexual intimacy. Or maybe he thought we were going to be friends with sexual benefits, and with news of me practicing celibacy his thoughts were shattered. As much as I tried to move forward with the conversation it was difficult, because I knew my friends thoughts of me and our relationship had changed. After our phone call ended, my decision to be celibate and the effects of that decision stayed on my mind. Yes, things got really real.

After hearing and comprehending his reaction, I was slightly disturbed, and a little disappointed because subconsciously I thought we were going to develop a great friendship that would lead into an even greater monogamous relationship without having sex. But clearly I was wrong. And even though I was flabbergasted with his reaction, not once did I doubt the decision I made because I’ve learned to stand firm on the standards I’ve set in regard to my body and relationships even if it hurts.

I’ve also learned that I can’t expect someone to change their expectations to meet my standards, and not to change my standards (my non-negotiable standards) to meet someone’s expectations; they are who they are, and I am who I am. Although it is still slightly difficult for me to grasp the fact that my friend and I will only be friends, I respect his honesty, I look forward to our growing friendship, and I am looking forward to learning and growing on this journey through celibacy and dating.

Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.

Have you tried to be celibate? How did that affect your dating life?

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  • Nyte

    A couple of comments.

    Celibacy entered into as a choice (I am attempting to thread a needle here) as to do or not do is going to make the road through celibacy very tough. I am not suggesting that it will be somehow easy, but a list of whys to or why’s not leaves room losing the argument.
    But I am delighted that you are making the journey. Whatever it is people say about celibacy — it is the spice of life.

    Here’s hoping you meet a man who appreciates your new lifestyle.

    And while woman are the source of no few irritations — and I have on occasion made some rather untoward comments in private venting.

    No woman is a cow who doesn’t behave like one. Nor would one run around in the market sipping from open cartons of milk.

  • angie

    Enjoyed your article…. im too on my way on my own journey :))

  • Didi

    I am dealing with a situation right now, were I really like this guy but I am celibate right now. Even though he says he is kool with it. I know that sooner or later it will start to affect our friendship. I have already told him lets just be friends but he insists he is up for the challenge. We shall see!!!

  • ptowngal

    I have been practicing it as well and it has given me better insight on men and it weeds out the jerks…but every man no matter what always wants sex from any woman he is interested in…

  • MzMizzy

    i noticed that the conversation was funny and upbeat and until he heard the word celibate- i have noticed some guys can be quite fun to be around until they find you aint getting none- of course there are some genuinely that way- but when a dude changes mr. nice guy personality to the neutral zone– then u know that was game to get some

  • Rastaman

    Maybe I am missing something here, the woman expresses to a man who has shown interest in her that she is celibate and he responds by stepping back and somehow he is not  a good person.   Is it inappropriate to make choices for yourself based on new information.  If he stepped back because she expressed that she had an incurable STI or a mental disease or she was into free love would that also make him a not a good person?

    I think homeboy did her a solid, she has made a decision to live her life sans sex and I am sure there are men out there who are down with that lifestyle choice.  I personally don’t know any but I have a small circle of friends and acquaintances.  He did not go about pretending her celibacy was unimportant and he was down with it, he let his feet do his talking.   In my journey I have met many women I found appealing who had lifestyle choices I was not down with as soon as I was aware of it I moved on, I had no hard feelings and I was not about trying to alter their belief system, que sera sera. 

    I have had the benefit of spending much of my formative years predominantly in the company of women and one thing I have come to understand is that most of the times women mean completely different things from what they say.   I have been in a group discussion with so called “celibate Christian” women who spent more time commenting on the lack of appeal of their fellow so called  “celibate Christian” brothers who I figured were the best candidate for each other shared commitment.  Made we wonder how folks put so much effort limiting their life choices then spend so much time bemoaning their limited options. 
    In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: “D’oh!


    • Stanley

      You nailed it!

    • liberte

      i agree with you some what- believe it or not i know some men who wait until marriage- and i agree if you are celibate they should stick with the brothers who are waiting- but not all men who say they who are christian- i like the way she went about it

    • Candice

      Liz Lampkin did not by any means project a negative light on her male friend who was turned off by her celibacy. She explained what happened and made a few observations about his reaction. Lampkin’s expression of disappointment does not attempt to persuade readers that this brother is somehow not a good person; it simply exposed his different lifestyle and seemingly different motives in getting to know her. The issue is not if the male friend is a good person or not, it’s if he was interested in having a relationship with her, relations with her, or a little bit of both.

      Second, hats off to Lampkin for the courage to stand your ground and be firm on your values. Several of my friends who practice celibacy, both male and female, are in serious relationships and a few have become engaged. Stay encouraged my sister!

  • CaliGirlED

    Yes this is a narrow road that only a few will travel. I recommend disclosing a little earlier. Once you see a frequency in conversations and/or dates, it’s time to discuss. After you catch real feelings is a bit too late because the reaction to your lifestyle may be hurtful. I have come to terms with the fact that most men will not be willing to participate. I also know that some men have big enough balls to think that they can wear you down and will pretend to participate. SMH! It is what it is.

  • Guest

    Wow. Great article. I agree with all the comments that celibacy helps you really weed out partners based on motives. I am celibate because of my faith and because of being used one too many times by smooth talkers for my ‘goods.’ Celibacy may not be for everyone but it is for me and I will remain celibate until marriage. As I am in my celibacy, I found my self esteem has increased more and more because I am learning to truely value my body. I know in this day and age there is all this talk about women need to ‘catch a man’ and one way to do it is by offering our bodies, but my faith teaches me otherwise. I may find a good man who understands my celibacy and I may not but at the end of the day, my dignity, my health, my well being and peace of mind is intact thanks to my celibacy vows.

  • SavingitBravingit

    In the same space/place.  At some point, a man or woman has to grow weary of instant intimacy that leads to NO LASTING COMMITMENT.  How many free samples can you give out before someone realizes that what you’re giving for free is probably worth . . . nothing?  Celibacy definitely opens your eyes and ears to the motives of our potential partners; some are in it only for the physical intimacy.  It’s a hard road to travel and we can only hope it will end in real commitment and real intimacy, but having endured relationships that sprung from (and relied upon) physical intimacy, I can honestly say the challenges of celibacy are less severe than the wrenching emotional fallout from a relationship that never really was to begin with it.  

    • TellIT

      that was so truthful and deep

  • MARI

    That was so well written and is definitely a summary of my thoughts. That’s crazy! Wow, very well put. :) I’m young (21), but I know what I want for my life. I value my temple a lot more than I once did. Every guy with a nice smile and good conversation shouldn’t be able to say they’ve had access to this treasure. Celibacy is definitely a teacher. I’m learning more about myself and getting my mentality together. Thanks so much for this post! 

  • Nisha136988

    I think you did the right thing. My friend right now is going the same thing and I see that it is hard on her kinda too. I personally couldn’t do it lol but that is a great thing. More people need to be on that path.

  • Smacks_hoes

    I feel like the articles on this site are becoming very redundant. There has been several articles on celibacy/virgins. We get it already.

  • Shakemyhead

    ” Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For?”
    Tells you everything about the naivete and simpleness of the author. Ouch, look for a diferent job, because you cannot give advice to other people… nor should you!

    • Liz Lampkin the Author

      Thank you for your comment shakemyhead! :)

    • no

      i think i missed something, why would you say that smh? haven’t read the book but the title seems to speak truth…

    • Ladybug94

      I’m not sure how you meant your statement but it seems only fair to be the reflection of what you are expecting your future partner to be.

  • Mls2698

    He just wanted to smash. Funny how you told him about teaching a class on celibacy, but he didn’t think quick enough to know you had to be practicing what you preach/teach. You can do it ! Six years for me.

  • Santana

    Either this vow of celibacy will be broken at some point or she will be come the lonely dog and or cat lady!  That’s for sure!  LOL….

    • GirlSixx

      well damn!!

      lonely dog though


    • Ladybug94

      Not true.

  • L-Boogie

    Dodged a bullet.

  • cocochanel31

    most men will not be down for this..its not good or bad…just be honest upfront before YOU develop feelings. Unless a man is waiting for marriage to, as a woman you are wasting time trying to convince him to “Wait” . He has to be convicted as well and you all have to walk the celibacy walk together. Your entire interaction will be a courtship w an end goal of marriage and not just “dating” around for the hell of it like the masses do….kudos to you for not wavering

  • OSHH

    Know that this is going to weed out alot of people whicih is a good thing IMO.
    I am abstinent but I am not dating as of the moment.

  • Kimster

    Good for you and good luck on your journey! Never place more value on the other person (whom you really don’t even know that well) than you do on yourself and your choice for your body and soul. Unfortunately, you may be met with that type of response from potential partners because of different lifestyle choices. However, based on his response, is he (will he be) really that good of a friend for you?

    • OSHH

      I have to agree with this, how good a friend can dude possibly be based on reaction to celibacy status. IMO if he were really interested in the slow walk of getting to know each other as people and then friends, then your celibacy would be a none issue.

  • Stanley

    Good for you!

    • Mls2698

      Hell naw!