I started by rereading the chapter “Sex and the Single Woman” in Kay Trimberger’s book. Although tempting, I decided not to take up flamenco but instead to check out the two books on celibacy she mentioned. One is Sensual Celibacy by Donna Marie Williams. The other Women, Passion & Celibacy by Sally Cline.
Williams’ book is steeped in religiosity – a bit much in my opinion – and, more troubling even, couplemania. Yes, odd, isn’t it: A book about celibacy steeped in couplemania but Williams pulls it off. Basically, she sees celibacy as a way to prepare yourself for a monogamous relationship, which you will be even more likely to find once you’ve followed her 10-step program. It seems a rather similar approach to the abstinence/chastity pledges, which she mentions admiringly. I had trouble reading the book because of both , so I mostly skimmed it. There were a couple of ideas in the book, though, that I found valuable: Nurturing self-love (being loving and respectful toward yourself; not narcissism or masturbation), building friendships, and discovering triggers. Often we want others to love us because we feel unlovable otherwise. We think unless someone else loves us, we are just not worthy of love. Williams stresses how wrong this thinking is and thus suggests to nurture self-love, which includes sensual approaches directed toward ourselves, like relishing soft bedsheets. It also means realizing that love can come from other places than The One. We need to build our friendships because they can help us create a loving environment. Williams suggests that we should try to get 10 hugs per day! I know I often fall way short of that (so be forewarned: I’ll be hugging even more people now!). The suggestion that I found most useful in Williams’ book is contained in her chapter on strengthening the celibacy practice: Figure out your sexual triggers.
Close your eyes and think back to your most satisfying sexual experience. It may be difficult, but try not to get lost in feelings, sensations, and images. Instead, try and remember the steps that led up to the act. What did your partner do to turn you on so? Did he wear a certain fragrance or did he call you up the night before in that deep, sexy voice of his? Or was there something else – a haunting melody in the background, candlelight flickering? (121)
In other words: Start paying attention to what is going on whenever you feel sexually attracted to someone. Sure, there might be biology involved but usually there’s more. I’ve noticed that my dear dragons love that opportunity to whisper into my heart, especially the first one – “I am unlovable.” Because we often equate sex with love – aided by the messages in books and movies – we think that if we have sex we must be in love. If someone wants to have sex with us, they must love us. This might actually be a way couplemania devalues love because there’s so much more to love than sex. And this dragon is probably so strong because our self-love is so weak. Williams doesn’t stop at the self-discovery part. She then suggests to create a conversion chart that allows us to turn our sexual triggers into solo activities. For example:
Times of the day, week, month, year. The times when I feel sexiest are at the end of the day, Fridays and Saturdays, when I’m ovulating, holidays, and change of seasons.
Conversions to Solo Activities
Create self-love rituals for those times when you’re at your most sensual. For example, at the end of the day, take a bubble bath with jazz music playing in the background. Take deep belly breaths. Buy new soft bed linens as winter ends and spring begins.
I am not convinced yet that this rechanneling works – my monthly trigger is coming up soon, so I’ll be testing it shortly… I wonder if it might increase sexual energy but I’ll find out.
I have not read much in Sally Cline’s book yet. Unlike Williams’ it sounds less like a self-help book. It is also much less religious. I will write more about it once I’ve read it as I continue to explore this topic. I will leave you with some thoughts about recent research comparing people who imagined “a long, loving walk with their partners” versus people who thought “of casual sex with someone they did not love” (cite and abstract of research article). Love helped on creative tasks and sex on analytical questions. Maybe that is how channeling sexual energy into friendships and self-love increases creative energy…