Real Life

Why more Aussie women are choosing celibacy

Not everyone's doing it!

By As told to Take 5

Just because there's been a rise in the popularity of dating apps like Tinder, it doesn't mean that sex is the top of everyone's to-do list.

In fact, recent reports claim that 28 per cent of women who are over 40 are now living celibate lives.

If that sounds sad, think again.

Rather than signalling an endemic of loneliness, Pamela Supple from Sex Therapy Australia believes that more and more women simply prefer some time to themselves.

"After a break up or a relationship where there's been some sort of domestic violence, women are likely to want to get to know themselves again," she tells Take 5.

The rise – and rise – of online dating services is another factor in deterring others.

"Some people are over apps," Pamela says. "They can really wear you out. Add to this the fact that STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are increasing, and you see why some people might just want to focus on their own wellbeing or prefer to get a pet instead."

Pamela Supple from Sex Therapy Australia.
Pamela Supple from Sex Therapy Australia.

It isn't just the common Joe and Joannes turning away from sex, either.

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence recently admitted that: "I don't really do it [sex]."

Other high profile celebrities, like Mariah Carey, don't believe in sex before marriage.

"Casual sex destroys self-respect," she said.

"Some people use it to feel better about themselves but in fact it ruins lives."

WATCH: Mariah Carey reveals she wishes she spent more time with James Packer. Post continues...

Not just women

Surprisingly, recent research from the National Survey of Family Growth showed that the number of men aged 22-35 who have never married or had sex in over a year is higher than it was a decade ago.

For many blokes, the reason was simple: they just hadn't met a suitable partner yet.

These findings don't surprise Pamela, who sees it as a flow-on effect from the proliferation of online dating.

"Ten years ago, apps used for sex and dating were still new and in their prime, but the novelty has worn off," she says.

"Millennials look at the generation before them and see how burnt out they are. Many young men and women are going back to basics and enjoying friendship."

Then there are cultural factors.

Some religions and nationalities prohibit sex before marriage.

While it's possible to fall in love with someone without sleeping with them, the decision to break celibacy can create problems in the bedroom for some.

Pamela encourages celibates to do their research about all things sex-related before hopping in the sack.

She warns: "Porn is not sex education, because there's more to sex than just penis-goes-into-vagina."

Dating apps like Tinder are wearing people out. *(Image: Getty Images)*
Dating apps like Tinder are wearing people out. (Image: Getty Images)

Strange bedfellows

When Sophie Fontanel published her book, The Art of Sleeping Alone, it struck a chord with women the world over.

"I spent the first 10 years of my adult life having, frankly, disappointing sex," the 56-year-old revealed. "It was mechanical, even when it gave me pleasure."

In her book, Sophie wrote candidly about the joys of celibacy in a world that has become increasingly sex-obsessed.

Although she's been called everything from "frigid" to "lesbian", Sophie maintains she's happy living a celibate life.

"When I stopped [having sex], I was so excited to be alone in my bed," she admitted. "I immediately bought a bigger bed, and for me, it was freedom."

Fourteen years ago, 61-year-old Suzie Webster broke up with her partner of five years.

She didn't realise at the time that it was also the end of her sex life.

"I loved sex," Suzie recalled.

The trouble was that she had no interest in casual sex, which was all that most of the men she met were looking for.

Still, Suzie got her happy-ever-after when she fell for a younger man who was content with a non-sexual relationship.

The two of them hug, hold hands but sleep in separate beds in the same room.

So if she's not having sex, what does Suzie consider to be fun?

Art classes, dancing and spending time with friends are how she fills her free time.

"We live in a very competitive society where if you're not having multiple orgasms and don't look like Barbie and Ken, you feel like you're doing something wrong," she says.

"I try to ignore these pressures."

Back from the dead

Shirley Yanez has been happily celibate for the past 17 years.

After a lifetime of indulging in sex, drugs and climbing the corporate ladder at work, Shirley's world came crashing down when she moved to the US, lost most of her money and fell ill.

After giving up Sex, Shirley says she's the happiest she's ever been.
After giving up Sex, Shirley says she's the happiest she's ever been.

"For two years towards the end of the time in LA, I had been bleeding but unable to see a doctor without medical insurance.

Then, I collapsed, had a cardiac arrest, died for a short while before being resuscitated and told I had an 3.6kg fibroid in my uterus and had almost bled to death.

After all of this I gave up drinking, chocolate, meat, drugs, shopping and sex, I had not had sex since losing all the money.

Once I gave up my old life, I realised clearly it was not money and external pleasures that made me truly happy and whole.

The best thing about being celibate comes from truly learning to love yourself and not spend your life looking for someone else to make you complete or feel better.

I am not religious or a man-hater: I have many good male friends and I am not closed-off, it is just not a priority when you are working and living with what you love for real.

I have never been criticised or challenged because I am celibate, quite the reverse; it makes me more attractive and centred because I am focused on happiness and other people envy my consistent energy.

If somebody did criticise me, I would tell them to mind their own business, not give an opinion about what I am doing but to take a long hard look at their own choices and behaviour."

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