Minimalism is the art of eliminating the unimportant to make room for the important. It is the art of eliminating the excess to focus upon the essential. On the surface, these definitions tend to make us think about stuff.
But minimalism can be applied to all aspects of our lives.
Perhaps it is because there is still a taboo surrounding the discussion of sex that causes minimalist writers to shy away from the subject. Perhaps it is because public media sticks the act and discussion of sex front in center in our media and entertainment. Perhaps minimalists don’t feel comfortable talking about sex because they believe they don’t have enough, they have too much, or feel somehow lacking.
Whatever the reason, it is time to open a discussion on the subject.
I realized this morning that it is safe to say that I have been celibate for two decades. I’ve not had sex since before I divorced. I never expected to be celibate for this long, so when I realized how long it had been I was surprised.
And if someone had told me twenty years ago that I would eliminate sex from my life, I would have laughed in their face.
I didn’t set out to become celibate. At first, I was struggling so hard just to pay the bills and keep food on the table that I didn’t have time to socialize romantically. I worked four jobs back then so I barely had time to take a shower, must less find someone to have sex with.
My life has slowed down immensely since those days. I dropped out of the rat race for several years, living on my book royalties to raise my daughter. While I re-entered the rat race after that to launch another life experiment which I eventually abandoned, I am once again living on the fringes of society in the slow lane.
I have had time over this past decade to establish sexual relationships but I haven’t. Why? I mean, I like men. I routinely admire the male physique and have no reservations when it comes to expressing my admiration. I enjoy engaging in flirtatious banter, yet I have no desire to take things farther. When pressed, I place the symbol of marriage upon the designated finger and tell people that I am unavailable.
Our modern society tells us that my decision to eliminate sex from my life is unhealthy. I have personally been informed that my decision to remain celibate is “unfair” both to the male population and myself. I have been instructed that I need to release my inner lesbian (because it’s “obvious” this must be my “problem”), and advised that I need to see a mental health professional.
I have been told these things many times over the years despite the fact that I am healthy and content. Apparently humans are supposed to “fuck like rabbits” so my decision not to is perceived as wrong. As has become my habit over the years, I nod along in agreement, promise to consider their advice, and do my own thing.
It wasn’t until this morning that I decided to analyze this decision. I hadn’t realized it had been so long until this morning. I’m not even certain what prompted the thought. Perhaps it is the fact that when I lay down at night I ask my personal diety to help me come up with writing ideas. I do not know the correct answer; I only know that I have made a pledge to discuss the first thought that enters my head upon awakening, and today that thought was about minimalism as applied to sex.
When applied to all aspects of one’s life, minimalism can help you sort the important from the unimportant. This sorting process doesn’t always happen on a conscious level; you just find yourself making decisions that, when you look back on them, are not only surprising but in-line with the goal of simplifying your life.
My unconscious decision to eliminate sex was one of them.
During my youth, my mind was filled with worry. Oh, he’s cute! Does he like me, or is he only flirting to be polite? Is he married? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he look like he might have a contagious disease? Is he gainfully employed, or is he searching for someone to support him financially? Do I smell nice enough? Has my hair gotten messy? He’s looking at my eyes – did my mascara run? OMG am I sprouting a mustache?!? Are my boobs lopsided? Is my butt too big? Do I have a matching bra and panty set? Is it good enough, or should I run to the store and buy a new set? Oh no! I forgot to shave my legs! Am I going to have to deal with another round of “put out or get out?” If we have sex on the X date, will he think me a slut? If we don’t have sex, will he dump me?
On and on the litany went. Whenever I was single, I found my mind filled with these and similar questions every time I encountered an attractive male, to the point where I spent so much time analyzing myself and the other person that I lost the opportunity to enjoy the moment.
But at some point the litany disappeared. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but at that time I unconsciously decided to drop out of the game. My stress levels dropped. Instead of worrying about the details, I focused upon the men I met as people instead of potential partners. My enjoyment of the interactions increased. As an odd side-effect, my unconscious decision to drop out of the sex scene made me more attractive. As one gentleman phrased it, it was refreshing to meet a woman who wasn’t “desperate” and who “obviously didn’t give a shit.”
But something more important happened when I made that unconscious change. By eliminating the pursuit of sex, I spent less time focusing upon my appearance. I dressed for comfort instead of male eyes. I shaved because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. I wore cosmetics because they made me feel good instead of wearing them to make others feel good.
I started doing things for myself instead of from vanity and fear.
As I became more comfortable in my own skin, I not only freed up an immense amount of time from pursuing vanity and assauaging my internal fears, I liberated a large amount of time to think, explore, and pursue passions that had nothing to do with sex.
I dived into computers. I began to read a wider variety of subjects. Instead of pursuing a sexual relationship, I spent that time exploring myself. While I didn’t always like what I discovered, I grew immensely from each experience.
I wonder now if we pursue sex due to biology or if it has been programmed into us by society. Even now I wonder if I am somehow defective for my choice. I wonder if I should force myself to care, if I should set aside my comfy clothes, pour a bottle of dye upon my head, don my cosmetics, and go out in search of Mr. Right.
Yet deep down inside, I know that I am finally content with who I am.
Perhaps one day I will meet someone and decide to end my celibacy but for now I have realized that I no longer care if that happens or not. I have realized that there is more to life than relationships and sex. The world will not end if I sleep alone. If anything, my life has become richer as a result.
Have you ever given much thought to why or why not you pursue sex and relationships? Have you ever considered the advantages and disadvantages that come from eliminating sex from your life? For those of you who have decided to eliminate the pursuit of sex, do you ever question your decision? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:
Barnes and Noble