Sex Therapist Dr. Ava Cadell Explains Why People Choose to Stop Having Sex
facebook.com/TimGunn Tim Gunn: making abstinence work for 29 years
Tim Gunn is an attractive man. Tall (so far as I can tell), with silver hair (who doesn't love a silver fox?), and nice smile (a good smile counts for a lot). He's quite the catch, really. He's the host of a popular TV show, he's written several books, it's safe to assume he is economically secure, and, overall, he comes across as a genuinely cool and likeable person.
So when Gunn recently revisited his celibacy in the public eye, it caused quite the stir. In the past, the 58-year-old wrote in one of his books that he had not had sex in "decades," leaving people to wonder, "Wait — exactly how many decades are we talking about?"
Then a few weeks ago, on an episode of ABC's The Revolution, Gunn finally answered the question: 29 years. The man has not had sex (or been in a relationship, for that matter) for 29 years! It's the kind of unveiling that makes your jaw drop. At least, that's why I literally did when I found out about the news.
Truth is, within my recent past, I decided to abstain from sex for an entire year. It didn't start out that way. Initially, upon ending my (admittedly somewhat casual, yet still heartbreaking) relationship with a man, I decided to pull back the reigns and return to home base.
"Dating is just a waste of my time and energy," I told my friends. "I'm going to focus on myself for a while." And that's exactly what I did.
Before I knew it, four months had passed. "Four months!" I declared. "This is the longest I've gone without sex since I was first sexually active!" By six months, my enthusiasm and lingering '90s "Girl Power!" attitude had begun to wane. By nine months, I became easily irritable, snapping on friends and loved ones, the result of too much contained pressure that not even my scrolling of the mouse could offer a full release.
In having deprived myself of sex for what felt like, and can only be stereotypically described as, an eternity, the idea of going nearly three decades without a man's touch sounds completely unfathomable. I decided to do some research. I was curious: Exactly what percentage of the American adult population is abstinent and/or celibate?
(Note: The two terms mean the same. Via Merriam-Webster: Abstinence: abstention from sexual intercourse; Celibacy: abstention from sexual intercourse.)
So I Googled. And then I Googled some more. Nothing. There were statistics about abstinence among teenagers and abstinence-only sex education programs, but where are the statistics on adults who intentionally refrain from sex?
Frustrated, but still curious for answers, I decided to speak with a professional — the wonderful Dr. Ava Cadell, sex therapist and founder of LoveologyUniversity.com — and hopefully get some insight on exactly what abstinence/celibacy is about.
NEXT: Q&A with Dr. Ava Cadell