This article is from the Celibacy FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (ML Poulter) with numerous contributions by others.
A celibate is someone who voluntarily abstains from sex. If you are
*involuntarily* celibate, there is a useful web page for you at
(but keep reading anyway!). Often when someone makes a conscious decision
to be celibate, there is a religious motive, but there are several other
There are single people who believe that sex should only happen
within marriage. This might be due to religious belief, or due to a need
The next category is that of monks, nuns, priests and religious
people for whom celibacy is a part of a spiritual path.
There are victims of sexual abuse, for whom sex is too much of an
emotionally loaded thing.
There are people who regard sex as simply not worth the hassle,
often because they have happen to have low sex drives. Included in this
category are people who are happy to go on dates, have emotional
relationships and even marry, but who don't have sex. In some parts of the
US, this kind of relationship is known as the "Lover Lite", or "Platonic
Plus". As concerns grow over AIDS and as women feel more confident to say
"no" to sex, this category is on the increase (see quote below).
The numbers of people with a low basic interest in sex are much higher
than you would think, probably because of the social pressure not to admit
to it. In a survey of women in the UK in 1999, nearly 20% claimed not to
be interested in sex. A large survey published in JAMA (Journal of the
American Medical Association) using data collected in 1992 reported that
15% of men aged 18-59, and 30% of women have a low sex drive (Source:
JAMA, February 10, 1999- Vol. 281, No. 6. Online at:
See also the Salon Magazine article at
Some people who are actually very sexual by nature go on deliberate
temporary "fasts", on the premise that rarity makes the act more valuable.
There are extreme feminists who regard all sex as rape and who see
celibacy as an expression of independence and autonomy.
It has come to the attention of this writer that there are certain
men who call themselves 'celibate' just because they can't get a partner
at the moment. These men are "lads" pretending to be "new men". Get out
of the pool, wimps!
In summary, there are two general reasons for voluntary celibacy. There
are negative reasons, including disillusionment with sex, lack of sex
drive or medical or emotional problems. There are also positive reasons,
including honesty (many people will acknowledge that sex and bulls**t are
difficult to separate), stronger and less casual relationships, spiritual
reward or the prospect of channeling one's hormonal energies into higher
The popular belief that people only give up sex because they are repressed
or have some sort of deep problem is an unfortunate prejudice. My own
experience and my contact with dozens of other celibates has shown
celibates to be a far more happy and settled bunch than this prejudice
would lead you to expect.
The following comes from "The girls of Gen X" by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead,
American Enterprise, 1 January 1998:
According to psychologist Joanna Gutmann, a counselor at
the University of Chicago, asexual couplings are increasingly
common. Gen X men and women may share beds without ever having sex,
or they may start out in a sexual relationship and then eventually
shift to a comfy, asexual living-together relationship for the sake
of companionship and convenience. Passionate, romantic love between
young men and women is increasingly rare, says Gutmann.