I didn’t intend going a year without getting fucked. The last time I had sex was with a guy I really liked, who I really, really wanted it to work with. Instead, he ended up breaking my heart a little bit. Not in the grand Charlotte Bronte way, but the quiet way where you watch Beaches a lot and listen to Cat Power instead of talking to other people. After he didn’t actually break up with me — because he just stopped calling — I had my rebound fuck and then became really guarded about who I would let inside me — literally.
After Nick, I dated three guys semi-seriously, all of them great, all with the intention we would have sex eventually. We did other things in the meantime — but just never got there. The first met someone else, the second was just getting over a relationship himself and the third broke up with me via text message, putting me back in the same place I was before. Whether I was careful or not careful, it didn’t matter. I still ended up alone, listening to Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler hash out their broken friendship and drinking until I could pretend I didn’t exist anymore.
However, I quickly realized I wasn’t waiting for these guys. I was waiting for me to be ready to actually move on — and be able to trust people again. So I put myself out there. I got fucked, and it was awesome. (If you’re reading this, dude, thanks for all the penis.) Before my very HBO encounter, I learned a lot in the interim time between fucks, my accidental year of celibacy.
Here are some notes from My Year of No Sex:
1. You don’t have to have sex to get off. There are plenty of other ways to make sure you are satisfied. When another person fails you, God invented the vibator to give you the most heavenly pleasure possible — doing things mortal man cannot. Have you ever seen a dick vibrate? No, because that would be weird. If so, he should probably go to a doctor.
2. It is technically impossible to eat your feelings, but you can certainly try.
3. We all feel great on days where we are dressed up and a hot guy notices us, but you know what’s just as sexy? When you look like shit and that hot guy wants to make out with you anyway. However, the thing that’s most sexy is when you don’t need the guy to feel attractive. You can do hot all by yourself.
4a. There is one consensual way to get a guy to have sex with you: Asking him and receiving consent. There are a million ways to get him to not have sex with you. Awkwardness is infinite.
4b. Slut-shaming is stupid. Your ability to make decisions you aren’t proud of has nothing to do with whether or not you’re having sex. I made lots of terrible decisions without the benefit of intercourse at the end.
5. Porn may be a hollow substitute for the real thing, but as far as hollow substitutes go, it can be pretty fucking fantastic.
6. Until you have gone without sex for six months, you’ve never realized just how many phallic fruits and vegetables there are in the world — or how awkward you feel when you eat them. I think the real reason that I rarely date women (despite finding them attractive) is that I would miss penis too much and have to compensate with fellating comely fruits and vegetables on the side. And eating a banana is already weird enough without having overt feelings of shame attached to the experience.
7. You can have sex dreams about pretty much anyone — like Buddha. After six years of being a lazy Buddhist, I’ve gotten almost nothing from meditation, because I suck at it, but I did discover through accidentally falling asleep that he’s a great kisser. That’s gotta count for something.
8. Also, when you haven’t had sex in a while, almost everyone is attractive to you. This will include celebrities that you never heretofore wanted to sleep with, e.g. Gary Busey and Willem Dafoe. When you then hear that rumor about how huge Willem Dafoe’s penis is (think “oil tanker”), you will spend oddly large amounts of time thinking about it.
9. You need to keep up a rigorous masturbation schedule when sex isn’t in the picture, like you’re training for some sort of masturbation olympics. This isn’t for the weak of heart. You may even have to cut out extracurricular activities or certain friends — who just taking up precious wanking time.
10. If you find yourself running low on masturbation time (or unable to masturbate for some awful reason), there’s always housecleaning. On weeks where I have guests staying in my small apartment, my floors have never been cleaner. You could eat dick off of those.
11. There’s more to life than sex. There’s also thinking about sex, talking about sex and talking to someone about other things (like their mother or their first-grade teacher) with the hope that this will eventually end in sex. Spoiler: It never usually ends in sex, unless you’re in a porno.
12. However, a lot of the time cuddling is preferable to sex, especially on evenings where you previously ate hummus or made out with your Chipotle burrito. Should you blow him instead of letting him inside your Cavern of Mexican Doom, cuddling feels like the greatest possible reward. That’s the shit right there.
13. The greatest realization of your adult life will be the day when you figure out that you don’t have to have sex with someone to get them to cuddle with you.
14. There’s no timeline on when you should have sex with someone — whether it’s the first or the third date. I recently broke up with a guy that I’d been seeing for two months, and we never had sex once. We did other things, all of which were what we were both ready for and able to consent to. (And trust me, he was satisfied.) There’s no “appropriate time,” just when you’re into it and it feels right.
15. You’re often told that holding out for sex will make a guy more interested in you — because you’re withholding the thing that he really wants. He won’t dump you before he gets that nookie. Trust me, a guy will break up with you whenever he wants — for lots of excuses a lot more ridiculous than whether or not you’ve had sex with him. A guy once told me his father died as an excuse to break up with me. Life is a lot easier when we’re just honest and open with each other and don’t have to trick other people in order to get what we want.
16. There’s no “normal” sex life, and most of it comes in waves. At certain points in your life you will be more interested in casual sex than at other times. Sometimes you want a fuckbuddy; sometimes you’re not interested in that and getting on Grindr seems like the least appealing thing to you. You want an app that finds a guy who will be nice to your mom and texts you back. Whatever you want right now, no one should make you feel like you don’t deserve that. Life’s too short to accept anything less than what you need.
17. In life, it’s best to find other people who are on the same wavelength as you, or who can at least jam to your bandwidth. If you’re in a relationship mode and don’t want to hook up, why are you hanging out with the guy who “just wants to be casual right now?” You need people who want the same things you want, and you can’t make them want something else. This isn’t McDonalds and you can’t supersize casual into a relationship.
18. If the two of you aren’t physically compatible right away, you can work on that by giving them pointers and tips — particularly with blowjobs, because it seems like no one knows how to give them well. You, however, cannot fix a bad kisser. Physical intimacy with a bad kisser is like trying to bake a birthday cake without pre-heating the oven. You just end up with sad cake, and there’s nothing worse than sad cake.
19. Breaking up with a guy because he’s bad at kissing may seem like a shallow move (“But he’s so smart!”), but it’ll feel a lot better after you’ve kissed someone else. There’s no substitute for genuine intimacy.
20. Don’t force your relationships. If something genuinely isn’t working out, you don’t owe it to each other to hash it out. You’re not CatDog or Catholic, chained to each other by a vengeful God. Call it quits. As Wonderfalls put it, life is a lot easier when you stop fighting. It’s a lot like drowning that way.
21. We often look at celibacy as this sad, miserable experience. If you’re not having sex, it means no one wants to fuck you. However, we need to be just as sex positive about the nookie we’re not having as when we are getting it — because other people’s interest in you isn’t that important. At the end of the day, you need to ask, “Would I fuck myself?” If the answer is yes, you’re doing just fine.