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When I share with other women that I practice abstinence, it is usually followed by an inquisitive look. Most want to know how long I’ve been refraining from getting busy and how long much longer I plan on continuing with it. How long? Almost three years. Until when do I plan to hold out? My wedding night. The responses that I usually receive following my answers vary. Sometimes I get the eye roll, which is usually followed by girl-bye-no-one-abstains-in-2012 look. Sometimes I get a “good for you.” Other times I get a response that goes something like, “That’s great, I tried that once, but it didn’t work out,” or the infamous “That’s sweet, but get a little older honey and see if you’re singing that same tune.” However, the most frequent response that I get is “I always thought about it, but I could never do that,” which is probably somewhat true. By telling yourself that you can’t, you’ve already sabotaged yourself.

What many don’t realize is that celibacy isn’t something that is merely physical. From my own personal journey, I’ve come to realize that it is more of a mental battle than anything else. It is about making up your mind that you are going to refrain from sex and wanting it bad enough to truly stick with it, regardless of what opportunity presents itself and who comes along looking to change your mind. While there are plenty of people out there who will preach why you should become or remain celibate, not many are providing enough insight as to how. So, I’ve provided some of the tips that have helped me in my own personal journey, as well as some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Recognize why you’ve chosen or are considering celibacy – Not knowing the reason why you’re doing something can greatly hinder your progress and success. I personally decided to abstain from sex for religious reasons. As a Christian, the Bible advises against participating in premarital sex. While I had already made the mistake of engaging in sex outside of marriage, I didn’t wish to continue with it. I no longer have the gift of virginity to give to my future husband; however, I didn’t wish to continue giving away what I did have to a guy that was undeserving of it.

Inform your current sexual partner (if you have one) that you’ve kissed that life goodbye – Unless you plan on cutting all ties with the current boyfriend or friend with benefits that you’ve been engaging with, then you should probably inform them that you will no longer be taking part in the festivities. Now, I can’t guarantee you that their response will be the most encouraging, because realistically speaking, it probably won’t, but verbally putting it out there takes pressure off of you and it decreases expectations.

Refrain from putting yourself in compromising situations – Just because you’ve chosen to take on the challenging task of locking down the goods, that doesn’t mean you’re superwoman. You are still human. With that in mind, try to avoid putting yourself in situations that might tempt you to give in to your desires. We’re sexual beings and to think that because you’ve decided to be celibate you are somehow exempt from getting “turned on” is foolish.

Don’t lead him on – Participating in 4-play knowing that you don’t have any intentions of going all the way is crazy. Besides, celibacy means abstaining from all sexual activities, not just the main attraction. By doing this you also make things more difficult (tempting) for yourself. It is unfair to him as well.

Inform anyone that you are seriously dating or considering seriously dating of your decision – This just helps you to avoid headaches in the long run, it always shows you where your love interest’s head is at. First, it puts everything on the table. You are letting it be known upfront that sex is not on your agenda. Allow them to then make the decision from there whether or not they wish to continue a relationship with you.

Align yourself with other women like you – The decision to be celibate can be challenging at times. Having support from people that have embarked on similar journeys can be really helpful and encouraging, especially on those rough days.

Be selective with the men you choose to date – Practicing celibacy while dating a sexually active man is really difficult, some would even call it impossible. Practicing celibacy while dating a sexually active man who doesn’t respect your decision to be celibate is a recipe for disaster. It’s probably in your best interest to date those who have also made a decision to practice abstinence.

Control your thoughts – There will be times where your mind wants to wander back to how it used to be. You’d be surprised at how vivid and accurate your memory can be sometimes. You have the ability to be in control of your thoughts. While you may not be able to completely filter the thoughts that pop into your head, you can definitely decide what you choose to dwell on.

What are some things that you found helpful during your journey with celibacy?

Jazmine Denise is a  freelance writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise

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