For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.
Next up is Dana Sukontarak.
Dana is the rebel. From tweets to the essays in her book “Men”, Dana pulls no punches. She isn’t someone I always talk about when I mention my blogging folks, but she is someone to whom I’m forever indebted. Years ago, she helped me unearth my voice and vulnerability when I contributed an essay about my sexual assault to her then-website The Apposite. Her writing has always wowed me, challenged me and raised the hair on my arms just a little bit. I think that’s what excellent writing does; it blows us away all while making us think or rethink about the lens through which we view the world.
I hope you enjoy Dana’s contribution to this series, “My Semi-Celibate Life.”
In my early twenties, I have often confused a sexual prowess with what could more accurately be described as sexual irrationality. I once treated sex like a conquest. I lost my virginity 10 years ago. In that time, I’d never stopped to consider the negative implications of my self-proclaimed sexual liberation. Now, I’m 28, in the midst of my languid late twenties. I no longer have the energy for certain things. I have become selective about the assignment of my time, money, and emotions. I recently came to the realization that sex has consistently clouded my judgment since the time I began having it. I’d never considered a self-imposed hiatus until this year. My celibacy was all but absolute, but even short stretches of consciously sex-free days allowed me to see many things in a clearer light.
This year, I came face to face with someone who’d broken my heart two years ago. The summer of our breakup, I had sex with a lot of different people. I guess I thought it would help my healing, or maybe I was content in denying there was healing to do. After much turmoil and many unanswered emails, I saw him on my work plaza at 8:30 one morning, walking a new way to the train and passing me in the opposite direction. We had an awkward but friendly conversation that led to friendly messages that led to a month of us talking and having sex twice within one week. He knew I was trying to be celibate. We did it anyway. We talked about a lot, he cried and apologized. He told me he’d been at home for most of the past two years, cautious not to run into me because our feelings were still too alive. He seemed genuinely remorseful for how he left, which was suddenly and for his emotionally manipulative ex. Still, he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. He wanted to be single, but he still started arguments with me for hanging out with another guy I’d dated after him.
I told him that I was glad we reconnected, but didn’t want to continue anything sexual. The almost month I’d spent without sex leading up to our tryst had instilled me with logic in the face of potential orgasms. I did the math and it wasn’t worth it. We had gambled once before, and quickly run short on beginner’s luck. I knew that history would repeat itself. He told me he was unable to even be around me, as a friend, if he knew sex wasn’t on the table.
It was a jarring experience, hearing my worthiness equated to my willingness to fuck, by someone I thought I loved and respected. Since then I have been considering the importance of sex, but mostly, I have been considering the ways I’d been using sex.
I realized I’d been having sex for a number of differently problematic reasons: control, affection, and validation, to name a few. I was doing it casually, but less for pleasure than for intimacy. Sometimes, I was doing it with people I didn’t care for, but forced myself to pretend to want to care. I often made sex into a challenge, focusing on conquering another person’s attention and emotions. It was all ownership and entitlement, under the guise of a deep and meaningful connection. I’d been absentmindedly ruled by oxytocin and directed by a dark, subconscious urge to manipulate and manage another person. Sex was imbued with expectation. It paved the way for disappointment when reality did not align. Sex had become a complication, more of an empty investment than a satisfying experience. Of course, sometimes I’d feel like doing it. But that desire was already being snuffed by my interest in growing and connecting in other ways.
Love is not about sex. Sex is not impossible without, but better with love. Sex is a very fragile thread to tie heartstrings with. Sex should supplement, not supplant an emotional connection. It took me ten years and a lot of sex to come to these conclusions. Sex is special and confusing. It is a powerful thing to share with another person, but used too often in the wrong ways.
A previous version of me may have begged for him to stay, to concede to his notion that our sex was an all-important form of communication between us and should flow freely as such. This version of me knows that sex is as important as we make it. And right now, it’s really not that important at all.
Dana is a 28-year-old writer and editor from Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter at @UnlimitedDana or visit her blog here. Her first book ‘Men’ is a collection of writing about love and relationships released in 2016. It can be purchased here.