With the exception of a three year-long relationship, most of my adult life had been a string of casual affairs. I had succeeded in convincing myself I was part of a new generation of women who needn’t be afraid of expressing their sexuality and considered it a form of empowerment. In time it became a lifestyle. Soon I forgot how to act differently.
Having the occasional one night stand was something that I viewed as a necessary evil. After all, I too had sexual needs to fulfill, right? Then why did it always leave me sad and hollow?
Students who have casual sex, experience more physical and mental health problems than those who are in committed long-term relationships, found a 2010 psychology study by Florida State University. These took the form of eating disorders, alcohol use, stress, depression and suicidal feelings, according to the article ‘A Plan to Reboot Dating’ by Emily Esfahani, for Atlantic.com.
To me, love was a black hole: a mysterious and dangerous phenomenon which scared the life out of me but at the same time attracted me like a moth to a flame. A force bigger than me kept sending me back for more. Every single time, I felt like a gambler who walked into a flashy and sumptuous Las Vegas casino, bet all his ‘emotional currency’ at the Black Jack table, drank all the whiskey and ate all the canapés he could get his hands on before everything took on the consistency of fuzz and then he woke up in a ditch with one emotional chip left, at the bottom of his pocket. And instead of giving up gambling, he’d go scrub up, enter a different casino, a little shabbier this time, with greasy bar stools to sit on, and would play that last chip at the slot machine, hoping for the jackpot before the machine swallowed it forever.
I found myself increasingly depressed and one day I decided to speak to a therapist, my flatmate had recommended.
He ushered me through a series of doors and corridors on the first floor of one of those City serviced office building and sat me down on one of those comfortable sleep-inducing Ikea chairs. The room was small and the towering lamp, probably also Ikea, projected a warm light. I started to talk slowly as if I was at some important job interview, but a few sessions later, I spilled it all out. He listened. And I spoke. And then he listened some more. And I spoke some more. Pouring out all that guilt I had bottled up and never told anyone felt like embodying a wild river breaking through a dam. ‘I guess that’s how confession feels like’ I thought.
‘It’s common knowledge,’ he said, ‘that the looseness of one’s knickers is directly proportional to the quantity of alcohol consumed. Don’t feel bad about it. Let’s just think about how we can work this out. It seems to me you’re ready to change your life.’
With tears in my eyes, I realised then, under the warm Ikea light, that I was grieving. I was grieving for the loss of my innocence, for the loss of my virginity, for the child inside I had been mistreating for so long, for my mother and my father and their tragic ‘love’ I was so desperately trying to avoid repeating.
After spilling my heart out and crying until there was nothing left in my life to cry for, I made up my mind entirely.
I wanted to start over.
I wanted to be a pure again.
I decided to give up sex.
My renunciation of sex was a symbolic trade between me and the Universe. I asked for love in return. ‘Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love,’ like Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw, once famously said.
A year later I found the love I had been looking for. And this time around, without the ‘threat’ of sex to influence my decisions, I was able to place the right value on people and most importantly I placed value on myself.
Are you also worried about the repercussions of casual sex on your emotional well-being? Perhaps self-imposed celibacy could help with making better decisions in love.
What’s your stand?