Several years ago, Playboy magazine reviewed my book, Sensual Celibacy, along with A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit and Cult of the Born Again Virgin by Wendy Keller. The writer declared that our books were a "man's worst nightmare." The review was written tongue-in-cheek, but it begs the question, is celibacy really men's worst nightmare?
For some men, yes it is; for others, no it isn't.
Let's say you're beginning to date, and you want to stick to your celibacy commitment. What can you expect in the meet market out there? Here's how I categorized men's various possible reactions to your declaration in Sensual Celibacy:
1. The See Ya Man. The moment you say no to sex is the moment he excuses himself from the table and bolts for the door. This man is frankly interested in sexual relationships, and that's his prerogative. Just be thankful that he had the decency to leave right away.
2. Casanova. Tell this man no to sex, and suddenly, you're the object of his most ardent attentions. You'll receive flowers, cards, and daily calls. If he's rich you might even get a blue box from Tiffany's. This guy's a real charmer, and if you don't keep your wits about you, you could fall hard. Casanovas are masters at identifying and playing women's sexual triggers....Trust your gut. If the guy seems too good to be true, he probably is.
3. The Scholar. Now here's a man worth considering. The Scholar has never seriously thought about celibacy in the past because he never had to. But now that you've brought it up, he's intrigued. And if he's interested in you, he could be convinced to share your celibacy experience....Don't be surprised, however, if he tries, from time to time, to get you to change your mind. Stand firm until you are ready to have sex with him.
4. The Renaissance Man. This man is a rare and precious jewel. The Renaissance Man is already a believer in, and maybe even a practitioner of, celibacy. There aren't many of him around, but this type of man does exist. I even talked to a couple of them for this chapter. They have strongly held convictions about honoring their bodies and the women they become involved with. One man I spoke to was a committed Ten Commandments Celibate. As you become stronger in your convictions about your celibacy practice, you'll be amazed at the quality of people who will cross your path. Don't be surprised if you begin to meet Renaissance Men. If you have the good fortune to become romantically involved with one, you start out with trust on certain issues, like fidelity. This guy is big on friendship and getting to know each other first, rather than trying to achieve instant intimacy through sex--and that's refreshing....The shadow side of the Renaissance Man is that he may be hard to get close to. He may be judgmental and intolerant of your sexual history. He may or may not be practicing a self-loving approach to celibacy, in which case you might want to run. If he is celibate because of religious reasons, then his practice may be colored by a lot of dogma. You'll have to decide whether you can handle that or not. If you really like this man, however, give him a chance.