The Latin Quarter. Friday night. My friend Joanie is holding court. She knows people. She’s having an mmm-hmmm hot conversation with the guy behind the bar. He looks like a kid but I’m pretty sure he owns the joint. She’s in her fifties and he’s fascinated.
I’m fascinated. She can salsa. She can hold a man’s gaze and say something utterly innocuous and make it sizzle. She’s sultry.
The woman can flirt. If I wrote down the things she says, you’d say what? There’s nothing innately smoky in that sentence.
It’s not what she says. It is how she says it. She says it hot.
So whenever we get together, we speak a mutual language: men.
We like ‘em.
She discovered Plenty of Fish. She announced that she was holding auditions for the role of “boyfriend”. There was a flurry of dating. Lots of dating.
If I’d had a blog then…oh the stories we’d tell.
So when she told me she’d decided to be celibate, I was incredulous. I had to get her to define the term because I was sure we were using it differently.
When you say you’re celibate, what does that mean?
Yeah, it pretty much means “not having sex.”
Stunned. STUNNED, I tell you.
I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone who was celibate.
I’ve known people who weren’t getting laid, but that was never by choice. I have had many conversations about sex, but until then, I’d never had one with a sexy adult who said they’d decided not to have sex.
So…why? What’s that all about? What’s that like? And why, again?
She was exhausted and disappointed with the dating scene. All this energy, activity, heat-seeking action, and very little connection. Holding space for a partner. Yearning, scanning, searching, mingling, chirping, chattering.
She said it was bit hamster-on-a-wheel: a lot of activity, with very little traction or direction.
So she thought she’d opt out. For a bit. Until she got her bearings.
Or until someone inspired her to change her mind.
I’ll admit it: I was not sold.
I was, however, curious.
Joanie is juicy. What was it like for this delicious creature, built for lovin’, to be solo and sexless?
Joanie said that she found it quieted the noise in her head – the noise that she was so accustomed to hearing that she didn’t even hear it, any more.
Until it was quiet. And then it was really quiet.
When she took sex – and not just sex, but Looking For Love – off the table, she started noticing and connecting with the people around her. In the moment. Just to connect. Not to angle, anticipate, interpret, discern, or decode.
She said that when she was ‘in the market’, she’d go to a party and scan the room, trying to figure out who was with whom, who was looking, who was looking at her. And that informed who she talked to and how she talked to them.
It was all agenda. It was all seeking. It was more noise than signal.
And when she decided ‘no more sex for you!’ (to herself), the noise…subsided.
Now, when she went to a party, she was at the party, not in her head. She was with you, not wondering about your orientation or availability.
She just enjoyed herself, in the moment, instead of engineering future imaginary moments.
That blew my mind. Turn down the volume? Be here, now?
But I wasn’t giving up sex or maybe A Great Big Love for inner peace.
Screw inner peace.
Right now, I’m digging me some inner peace.
I don’t know if I’m going to claim the word ‘celibate’ because it seems so dried out and well, unsexy, to me – and I doubt I have much of a commitment to the word or the course of action.
So something’s shifted in me in the last three months. I’m not having sex. I’m not collecting men. But I am pretty damn happy.
And it’s not just me who noticed. At our recent sex toy party (strangely good timing, don’t you think?), my friend’s husband told his wife that I looked “really happy.” My daughter’s daycare leader wondered if I have “a really good man in your life, because you look so…happy.” My sister told me that she’s noticed that I seem really relaxed and…wait for it…happy.
And my friend Joanie was right: the noise was overwhelming but I was so used to it that I couldn’t hear it.
Now, suddenly, I hear all kinds of things that I ignored, before.
And trust me, it’s juicy.