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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I hope this tale of lust and loss doesn’t read like that of a recovering sex addict or that of a college girl who after one too many liquor clouded nights with forgettable men decided to devote herself to the higher power in an attempt to find somebody more marriage material (read: memorable) because I like to think of our protagonist’s situation as one completely specific to her; unlike any cliche or ‘been there done that,’ but then again, as writers, don’t we all? 

The realization that no tale is new off of the tongue of my own or new to the ears of my audiences is a difficult pill to swallow yet, I write to you this evening, at 12:27 AM on the fifth Thursday of 2022 in hopes that the chronicles to come read not only unfamiliar but riveting. If nothing else, I hope you know she (we) had to be brave. 

Shall we?

I want to start by saying that the Celibacy of our subject wasn’t intentional –initially. she wasn’t the type of girl who evaded pleasure in any sense of the word; whether brought by the orgasmic first sip of iced coffee in the morning or the serotonin brought by retail therapy after any minor inconvenience, I’ve always been an advocate for what feels good with no regards for the repercussions that followed. 

What began as the satisfaction of minor impulses quickly budded into what we now regard as the beginning of her demise: she wanted what she wanted when she wanted it with no regard for the harsh realities or little white lies that may or may not have dwelled in the obscurity of deception, waiting to bring her pursuit of (rarely reached) peaks to the most cringe-worthy screeching halts she’d yet to hear, even three years in the future. 

While she had herself to blame, she likes to also hold accountable a man who was three years her senior and about 10 years her junior with regards to maturity (in every sense). 

I see no need in rehashing or detailing a story that I know belongs to so many women both young and seasoned, so I’ll keep this in the realm of simplicity: their time together can be summed up by a surplus of dishonesty in conjunction with a deficit of fulfilled purposes, worthwhile visits, and ultimately a failure to see the perks of the promised experience that accompany all encounters with older men. 

I pray we’re all on the same page here. 

After months of disappointment, she began to resent sex altogether; I mean who wouldn’t? 

Even if the partner wasn’t going to be aligned morally, which they often don’t, the chemistry should’ve sufficed. When it didn’t, she gave up; I sympathize with this stage of the journey because one can’t ignore the ambiguity of motive when the intention isn’t sustained. 

She had to ask herself, what was the point? 

Beyond impulse, the intimacy of the act was undeniable to somebody as sensitive as she. I mean, this was like the ultimate level of access that you could give a guy. Fully aware that three months into 18-years-old was too young to say it was ruined for eternity, and failing to conjure up a sensible solution to the issue at hand, she decided to simply stop. She’d stop until sex served its purpose again, and not a moment sooner. 

A teaser of what she intended to be a long-awaited movement arose quicker than expected. She and sex reacquainted briefly. This happening was one-third into her nineteenth year and the horror that ensued would only further displace the two. We’d see another false alarm similar to this six months later. 

When our subject reached 20-years-old, her long-time acquaintance reached 24. The longevity of time or depth in familiarity did nothing for the two, in fact, nothing changed in the dynamic besides a rapidly dwindling patience on her end. One final argument over whether or not she’d written an article about his lack of commitment and purposeless company severed two years of communication; a spark that never did get reignited…for obvious reasons. 

(sidebar: yes, these articles spark the same amount of drama that they chronicle. It’s a beautifully chaotic cycle, truly.)

When she bid him goodbye, it was also good riddance, sayonara, and see you later to intimacy as a whole. Up until then, it had been a waste of time. For years. Could you blame her?

I think our subject found it easy initially because she wasn’t attracted to any of the gentlemen callers that called during the first three months. Even when there was one that piqued her interest, a newfound need for trust, foundation, and security that superseded her usual devotion to sensation kept her on a tight leash and ultimately led to said caller calling elsewhere. 

Did it hurt? Yes, but our protagonist knew it was for the best for the simple fact that she deserved security; the guarantee that incorporating the physical wouldn’t lead to the departure of the emotional, semi-chivalrous connection that she actually wanted. Not only that, she deserved peace; peace that an acquaintance with him simply wouldn’t, couldn’t, and hadn’t provided. 

Their inevitable separation was predictable and understandable, but predictability and logic didn’t stop tears. Nothing did, actually. But, as usual, she bounced back; licking her wounds, fixing her hair, and reapplying mascara in preparation to keep going

Time flies when you’re having fun, and fun is inevitable when you haven’t the uncertainty and confusion that almost always accompanies any non-platonic entanglement with men; it’s like the garlic and olive oil that remain on your tongue after the consumption of an Italian meal, unescapable no matter the precautions you take. You taste it, and surely, others smell it. 

Our subject’s breath was minty and her life was fresh and unplagued as can be. The comfortability of Celibacy wore well initially, but subsequently, the fear of the duration of her state of solitude became a lingering facet (like the garlic breath) that eventually developed into a con.

 Being alone was fun. It was safe. She was happy and enjoyed the way that slumber overtook her eyelids every night with ease rather than wrassling with the anxiety of the whereabouts of a man or the nature of the festivities that were preventing him from texting back. Nighttime consisted of devotional readings, prayers, and (you guessed it) Gilmore Girls. But when would it end? 

She hadn’t embarked on this with the intention that it’d continue into oblivion and end with her wearing black, white, and going under an alias prefixed by ‘sister’ or ‘mother,’ and often, the fear of her potential conversion into full-blown missionary-esque invaded her thoughts of the joys of singleness. Dramatic? Maybe, but if you understood the metamorphosis of her perception of men, you’d empathize.

6 months into her affair with Celibacy, men of all shapes, sizes, heritages, and genres became utterly repulsive. She didn’t miss sex, or them, in the slightest. What began as a refusal to settle for lackluster experiences became a safe haven for our subject; her mind was clear,  and she would vividly see that the enemy in the equation was man and man alone. 

She hadn’t a type of man that piqued her interest and when she looked at them, even (especially) those from the past, there was only a pang of comfort and a bone-chilling shudder at the thought of being suffocated as the bottom party. 

10 months in, it wasn’t getting any better. Not only did she not miss men, but the thought of intimacy also had first become something so foreign, and then worsened into something to be feared; she was scared they’d never reunite, and she feared the man who would be the one to finally bring the downpour to the drought and restore order. Still, at 10 months, she couldn’t ignore the way the thought of closeness invoked nausea and an acute case of goosebumps. 

Months 11 through 13 is where things got interesting. She met a guy; the guy, rather. The guy that she didn’t think existed. The guy that took everything as it existed in her safe, loveless, and romantically uneventful life, and observed, learned, consumed, and mirrored it for the purposes of understanding his victim. Dark, I know. 

 The only way to defeat your enemy is to learn their weaknesses, and our guy, as thorough and in-depth as they come, had no choice but to take it a step further: he became them. A direct personification of kryptonite that defied every previous misconception or rule that our heroine lived by, boundaries became a foreign concept when they made their acquaintance. 

Ten months of solitude had deposited what she would’ve previously regarded as a significant amount of wisdom in her spirit, but somewhere between the hazy eyes and slurred speech that led to the beginning of their “friendship,” she felt the wisdom dwindle until it would ultimately make its final departure.   

So they began. Month 11 was a fun, ‘casual,’ time,  as the sound-minded might say.  With each meeting though, she felt the topic of her affair with Celibacy loom in the near-distance, like an angelic figure hovering over her right shoulder: initially minuscule then increasing in mass with each visit, sucking up the air in the room at any instance of trivial physical affection that had the potential to go from diminutive to significant to sexual and trigger the difficult conversation she never did want to have. 

Month 12 is where things got problematic. He wanted more, and couldn’t comprehend why more wasn’t in his possession the way it’d always been with everyone else, not comprehending that she, in the societal context of approaching the conclusion of her collegiate years and therefore tired of the fleeting, ‘casual’ dynamic, was not like everybody else. 

In the middle of a night, during a lighthearted conversation that quickly evolved into the very difficult conversation our heroine had been avoiding, her Celibacy swole like a PMS zit; refusing to be ignored, resisting treatment, and of course, desiring to be present, acknowledged, and formally introduced like the mistresses we all know and pity in cinema. She’d no choice but to finally share the truth.

Finally faced with no way out, she explained herself. She swallowed the lumps in her throat which always blocked the chronicles of her past and hindered her honesty, knowing that her days of awkwardly laughing and changing the subject, or passing it off her true hesitance as a cute game of cat and mouse had reached their unavoidable conclusion. 

She introduced him to the third party in their dynamic (read: Celibacy), and as expected, the two did not hit it off too well; he made his departure soon after despite the blanketed skies of pre-dusk that would’ve usually been an excuse to just leave in the morning

Our heroine is nothing if not in tune with her emotions, so the routine tears were to be expected, and arrived right on time, after about eight hours of professing false okayness, of course. After ample time spent journaling, baking, and venting, she and okay were one, authentically this time.

Until he returned. 

Months 12 to 14 consisted of a back and forth unlike anything she’d never known, and while she verbally gifted him the totality of the blame, she mentally wrassled with the idea that she was the culprit. 

Her affair with Celibacy was getting in the way of her emotional affairs with a living, breathing, visibly frustrated human being, 

They had the same fight every six to eight business days, suffered endless rounds of the silent treatment, and only then, after nearly canceling all further contact, would they communicate in a productive way. It was clear that what our heroine regarded as steady was being perceived as stagnancy; the harm outweighing the good, the pressure to choose between him and Celibacy growing each day, and the purpose of the time she’d spent with Celibacy becoming increasingly alien until she found herself asking what is the point? 

At this point, she knew she wanted to. And when he, and others, would ask what she was waiting for, she could only sigh, shrug her shoulders, and give an honest, “I dunno, I just want to be sure,” unable to even sew proper bullshit together to answer sufficiently. 

She no longer had a logical explanation for the wait, and the dynamic was so angsty, so suffocated with tension that it felt like now or never. 

After months of consistency, she imagined that he’d evolved into the safe space she always said would provoke her to sever ties with Celibacy for good. After months of conversation, she would’ve bet any amount of money that he’d acquired the ample amount of information that she knew would serve as an adequate resource in understanding who she was, and how to properly (and peacefully) navigate the depth of her existence.

By now, he had to know she was the farthest thing from simplicity, right?  And after months of involvement, with our heroine constantly giving him an out due to their seemingly conflicting, opposing wants and his repetitive resistance to take her up on her offer, he had to be insinuating that he was a willing, eager, and committed participant in the madness that’d ensued, right? 

Wrong. And I think we all know what happens next. 

Clouded with the same naivete that scorned her and drove her into the arms of Celibacy just 14 months prior, she allowed sensation to reign in supremacy yet again and she chose pleasure over logic; even worse this time, pleasure had superseded intuition.

The girl’s name she’d been seeing on the phone could’ve been anybody’s (people do still have biological cousins, don’t they?). His ability to not respond, reach out, and lean toward frigid temperatures had to be provoked by the lack of intimacy, which was per the request and desire of our protagonist (and could you blame him?). She didn’t blame him, she blamed herself. She blamed Celibacy. 

 If all issues stemmed from the absence of pleasure and presence of Celibacy, then she undoubtedly had the ability to conquer it all by simply choosing him. She wanted him to feel chosen, the way she always wanted to and thought she finally had been.

Months 12 and 13 involved an external hot and coldness; a back and forth between a heightened hormone-motivated boy and a careful, healing young woman who was determined to do things right to ensure she needn’t heal again.

Month 14 the conflict was solely internal. The enemy, to her knowledge, was the young woman that stared back at her each morning while she brushed her teeth and proceeded to complete an extensive skincare routine, reflecting each action seamlessly. 

It wasn’t Celibacy. It wasn’t the 14 months of time they’d spent together; it was her own reluctance to let go of ‘what if’ and acquaint herself with ‘what is, what could be, and what will be,’; the three of which had been knocking at the metaphorical door of her romantic life patiently for months now, sangria in hand with a boombox playing H-Town’s, “Knockin da Boots,” on an endless loop. 

They knew how to get her, and they succeeded. Celibacy tearfully packed its bags and gave way to the risk-filled company of our heroine’s three new suitors; the fear was undeniable, but the exhilaration and excitement that accompanied that fear had been missed. The unknown she once feared became an entity she missed and embraced dearly. After 14 months of thinking, strategizing, and theorizing, she abandoned rationale for an electric reunion with the bliss of feeling sans heavy analysis and rationale.

I think the break up with Celibacy would’ve been effective and truly served our protagonist had her cause been as authentically consistent as he proclaimed and presented himself to be.

Had he been honest, our heroine would’ve never had to face the misery brought by Celibacy’s, “I told you so,” upon learning that she was not singular in perspective or position and that company is not limited to three but can surely make room for a fourth party as well. And with this new knowledge came the realization that the decision to rank months with him over a year with Celibacy was, while pure for her, calculated for him. 

They hadn’t the same mindset. They hadn’t the same intent. They hadn’t the same feelings. They hadn’t the same anything, really. The tears returned, this time more bitter and sorrowful than the times before. This time, escorted by stomach-churning sobs and hunger-thieving adrenaline that villainized all previously, visually appetizing meals until eating wasn’t a thought; something she’d regret when she’d inevitably decide to drown these sorrows at happy hour. 

She chose him over Celibacy and was left even lonelier than before; never considering the chilling solitude that would follow Celibacy’s departure; never considering the fact that after 14 months, it could still go wrong. 

Don’t get me wrong: those 14 months without intimacy were good because they were safe. A life without knotted stomachs due to overthinking timing, talent, and dirty-talk was a life she enjoyed. She woke every day grateful for the absence of pregnancy scares, STD suspicions, and regrets.

 Celibacy was boring, but she found solace in its protection. Celibacy had no expectations or grievances. All she had to do was show up, and the manner in which she did so was up to her own discretion. Celibacy whispered sweetly, “come as you are,” rather than demanding the 3-hour prep that preceded the escapades she’d known prior. 

The con with our heroine’s bout with Celibacy was that she assumed her own decision would translate in magnitude and significance to anybody she was in relation, communication, or association with; anybody that cared (or appeared to) about her, would care about this. We learned the (very) hard way that this wasn’t the case. 

We saw a journey to the construction of trust and he saw a long waiting game that he’d nothing but time and endurance to play; round after round, month after month. To him, her life, body, and feelings were a game; a game to which he came with a hunger to beat each level, especially those that prior players hadn’t been able to conquer. It wasn’t a chivalrous patience that kept him around, it was a lust for victory. I hope the intangible trophy served as a worthy souvenir.

 His immorality and lack of integrity are undebatable, but the lesson here, for our heroine, lies in the matters of the relationship between honesty and opposition; no amount of vulnerability can soften the heart or change the mind of one who’s already intent on an inverse desire to her own. 

Communicating your feelings is useful in informing others, but despite the bravery it requires and the cathartic feeling that washes over you after the completion of the action, it has no parallel or positive relationship to their reception and perception by the audience. 

A liar will lie. A deceiver will deceive. A manipulator will manipulate. A player will play. All four will proceed jubilantly, while you dwell in the euphoria of overcoming your fears to express yourself in those difficult conversations you dreaded for fear of not being accepted. 

If love is a battlefield, lust is the scene of a massacre, and though eerily, metaphorically bloodily wounded, we prefer to view the matter of survival as not an if contingent upon fleeing to the solace of solitude or the safety of Celibacy, but rather a guarantee. 

Even in the adoration, desire, and presence of many, no longer will we be forced into withdrawal; not when the outcome of each encounter remains unpredictable and unforeseen no matter the care handled or precautions taken. 

The only question now is would you rather be directly rejected or seemingly understood, while he, unbeknownst to you, executes all the fears that kept you hushed in the first place? 

She (we) still hasn’t figured this out, and I pray for the sake of us all it doesn’t take another 14 months to do so. While this was a tale of solace, safety, and sorrow, it’s also one of strength. 

 I think the most significant lessons Celibacy gifted to our beloved, brave heroine are the reminders that power and liberation are only relinquished when one allows it, and the ignition of a fire that will encourage her to hold onto that power for dear life. 

Cheyenne Paterson is a senior English major, Strategic Communications minor studying at Hampton University from Boston, MA. She aspires to combine storytelling and an editorial style of writing to increase audience engagement and advocate for brands and corporations. Cheyenne is the Editor-In-Chief for Hampton University's Chapter of Her Campus, a regular contributor to Impressions of Beauty, and the President of the Peer Counselor's organization on campus. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys dabbling in interior design, perfecting her homemade coffee, and baking new recipes!
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