The Rise Of Voluntary Celibacy

In January, it was reported that there was a 90% increase in Google searches for celibacy, revealing the rise of voluntary celibacy.

Caitlin didn’t set out to become celibate – at least not in the beginning. Three years ago, she was coming out of an abusive relationship and wasn’t ready to meet someone else. Then Covid happened, and the lockdowns made it impossible anyway. “I thought during that time I needed space to heal and reflect on what I’d been through,” she says. Towards the end of 2020, the 23-year-old artist started therapy. “I realised if I was going to be sexually active, I needed someone who would understand my past, and where I was coming from. I don’t want to be with someone unless I know it’s committed, and I’m not in a rush to find that.”

She had been on dating apps, but found it hard to meet men who wanted a relationship, rather than just sex. “I found they would stop talking to me if I made it known I wasn’t going to hook up with them on the first date. I found a lot of men would put on a bit of an act to appear as if they wanted a relationship, then as soon as you took sex off the table while getting to know them, they disappeared. It’s tricky when a lot of dating is around hook-up culture, which I’m not interested in.”

Caitlin’s celibacy, three years in now, became intentional. She hasn’t missed sex itself, she says, and certainly not casual sex, although sometimes, “seeing people in relationships and having healthy sex lives, can make me go: ‘Why don’t I have that?’” But it has had unintentional benefits. “It’s taught me more about what I enjoy in sex, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought it was going to put me at a disadvantage, but I feel a lot more confident in my own sexuality.” While sex with someone else is out, masturbation is still in, and she says her libido has increased. “I think because exploring different things without dealing with another person has allowed me to find what I enjoy.” It has also made her more relaxed about finding a relationship (or not). “I’ve got other things to focus on. It’s if someone fits into my life rather than me needing to make room for them.”

On TikTok, voluntary or intentional celibacy has become a trend – the #celibacy hashtag has had more than 195m views – with those who practise it claiming it has improved their focus, mental health and energy. In January, it was reported that there was a 90% increase in Google searches for celibacy that month.

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One Response

  1. How does one write an article on the rise of voluntary celibacy based on “Caitlin” experience and a few obviously skewed statistics?? Get real!

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