Something occurred to me the other day, as these things do. I was walking out of gym, the endorphins from the exercise setting my mind to meandering like a basset hound following a scent trail in the local park, when a question stated itself. “How would you feel,” asked my inner voice, “if you were told you would never have sex again?” The answer was easy: utterly indifferent.

If my inner voice had asked, “How would you feel if you were told you would never publish another book?” or “What if you never sell a painting?” (as it often does), my response would be: devastated. In all seriousness, I’d probably lose the will to live.

But sex? Ja well, whatever.


It’s shocking, I know. Confess you’re not interested in sex in a culture saturated with it and you get those sympathetic yet horrified looks we normally reserve for people with third stage elephantiasis. (Sample response from a male friend: NOOOOOOOOOO!) Obviously, I’m stirring by writing about this – I feel obliged every now and then to tackle prurient subject matter to keep my assorted stalkers and haters interested; thank you, in advance, for rising to the bait – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Celibacy, as it turns out, is easy when you’re a single woman and even your local Engen now sells fantastically good cinnamon and pepper Madagascan chocolate. Mothball your libido for long enough and it slips into a permanent state of torpor, never to be revived.

Here are seven reasons why I figure that’s not a bad thing.

1. Health, the most obvious one. All the Rough Riders in the world can’t change the fact that the only safe sex is no sex at all. (And all you Sandtonites reading this know very well that a lot of you tend to assume that the right address and LSM precludes the possibility of STDs.)

2. Emotional attachment. Sex comes with hideous emotional risks as well as physical ones. Men find it easier to shag and duck, but thanks to oxytocin, it’s almost impossible for women not to become attached to a sexual partner. Last year, I felt as if I’d been disemboweled and left for dead after a vague and brief liaison faded for no apparent reason. More than a month later, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably while waiting in my car at the robots at the intersection of William Nicol and Republic. I was sadder than the curtseying beggar with the plastic bag and the pleading eyes. I intend never to be in that state again if I can help it.

3. Logistics. The back seat of a car is a practical option when you’re 17. Add on a couple of decades and it isn’t. Since I live with my grandmother, bringing somebody home is not an option. She’s an unwitting but highly effective chastity belt.

4. Time. Even one night stands must take hours: you have to put on makeup, go out, get trashed, pick somebody up at Corner House and go home with him even if you don’t plan on seeing him ever again. That’s an entire evening lost. Since I spend all my time either working, thinking about work, or putting off work while I scroll through Twitter instead, I have no space in my diary for schtupping, vryfing or sundry fooling around.

5. Energy. Putting oneself out there with enough conviction to arouse interest in the opposite sex requires a measure of self-belief that I simply cannot manufacture. Watching David Attenborough DVDs in bed is, on the whole, less draining.

6. Performance anxiety. Something that affects men more than women, but since we’re now all supposed to possess the labial dexterity of a Slovakian internet porn star, there’s pressure on us too. If sex was easy and we didn’t have to think about it, Men’s Health and Cosmo wouldn’t be telling us how to do it. I’d rather redo the K53 yard test any day.

7. Body issues. My favourite. If you don’t look like a model (and most of us don’t, no matter how much time we spend time spinning at Virgin Active) getting naked with somebody means opening yourself to the possibility of ritual humiliation. Um, no thanks.

The irony is that I like male energy, crave it in fact, and I only feel truly creative when I’m in some hopelessly complicated entanglement with an Interesting Man. But as I’ve written before, not being in a relationship is the better option overall. When you are alone, you are contained and self-reliant, and your entire existence stops revolving around the longed-for WhatsApp message, the one that never arrives. When sex stops mattering, you stop thinking of yourself as a sexual being, judged on your secondary sexual characteristics, and focus on, well, just being.

So, not being interested in sex might be sacrilege, as one of my female followers on Twitter said. But it makes sense for me, and that, I think, is enough.


  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.


Sarah Britten

During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.

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