Real AF is an anonymous series that explores the interesting lives of Nigerian women, because we all have stories to tell.
Opting for celibacy can be a monumental decision or just a phase you casually slip into. Either way, it may be a learning curve in your life, a key step in your journey of self-discovery, or a mere conditional inconvenience. Whether wilful or by circumstance, short or extended, it is a valid and maybe even noble choice.
We spoke to seven women for #RealAf about the inspiration behind their decision to steer clear of sex and how they found/are finding the experience.
25-year-old Clara has been celibate for seven months and intends to remain celibate until marriage. She decided to stop having sex because of UTIs, pregnancy scares; “basically trying to do better for my health because I don’t have a family doctor.”
She says it gets hard sometimes, but she intends to continue. Warm baths and marijuana help her power through, and her end goal is to stay safe and healthy.
Debola is 22 and has been celibate for three years. She came to the decision when she realised and embraced her sexuality.
“Honestly, I’m ace (asexual), and I decided to stop convincing myself to have sex. It doesn’t profit me in the long run to be coaching myself through sex, and it’s not healthy. At first, I used to feel embarrassed, but I don’t anymore. I’m enjoying myself and having a great time. I do intend to continue for a couple of months though.”
Her goal is to be more confident in her identity and get to know herself better.
23-year-old Princess has been celibate for eight months.
“I saw shege. I think I fit into a certain masc identity, so it became a thing of meeting curious people who just wanted to touch me and sneak off to do things that I never really found satisfying in the end. Plus I also like that kinky shit, so I decided to entertain only people on that open-minded and sexually liberated wavelength and pay attention to my desires. Unfortunately, it’s been crickets since then.”
The journey has not been easy for Princess. “Let’s just say after the first couple of months during ovulation, it began to feel like forces wanted to take my life. I’m definitely not looking forward to the next one.”
She is however looking forward to the end of her celibacy stint; “I’m not powering through again. I’m looking forward to being used at this point.”
Her mission is to filter away weird energy. “I’ve been very repressed, and it’s kind of counterproductive to get with people who haven’t done the work to liberate themselves from stereotypes and conventional sexual behaviour. Once I feel that this is someone like me, we’re good to go. A good sign of this is being able to talk about the hard stuff, brazenness, openness and being very candid.”
Bonne, 22, has been celibate for five months.
“I got tired. It was so much work to have sex; constantly worrying about STIs, and pregnancy. Having sex is also expensive, and when I lost my job, it kind of fueled my decision to pause. I also started wanting more. I’ve been out of a relationship for almost two years now, and I got tired of casual sex and men only texting me for just that, no care for my well-being or health. I also started thinking that I wasn’t good at it.”
She intends to remain celibate until she changes her mind or feels differently. Bonne has been finding the celibacy journey easy, she says;
“It’s actually easy. I think I’m a person that when I don’t want something, it stays away from me. I also know a lot about men and their behaviour, it’s easy to tell them off and ignore them until I need them. I was having attention issues with my sex partner and got tired of complaining about the same thing all the time. Now I don’t have to worry about that. I’m detached, and if at all I have sex today, I will shake body and move on. The end, curtain closes. I’m prioritising myself, focusing on self-care, looking forward to future orgasms and a better sex life altogether.”
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Yasmine, 24, was celibate for about two years initially, but now, for about three months, and she plans to remain celibate for the foreseeable future.
“Initially, I didn’t want to share my body with just anybody. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship, I’ve never been in love. I don’t feel safe and comfortable around most people as they often disregard my boundaries and aren’t really interested in me as a person.
I wasn’t saving myself for marriage, I’m by no means religious. I just wanted to share my body with a good person, I at least deserve that. After being celibate for a lot of my adult life, I ended up being coerced by someone I was seeing.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but he knew I didn’t want to have sex, yet every time we were together, he would slip a hand under my dress or ask me questions like if I was sure I really cared about him. One day I just gave in because I was scared he would leave me, hurt me, or both. I started seeing someone else, and the same thing happened. I started seeing a third person, and they also started to disregard my boundaries (begging to just “feel it” a little, etc).
I’d had enough and started to constantly feel nervous around people I was seeing. So I decided to go back to my earlier conviction; fear of never finding anyone who will take me as I am be damned. I just really want to feel safe and heard.”
It’s been hard for Yasmine, but she intends to continue until she can enjoy sexual experiences in a way that feels safe, pleasurable and just “right” for her.
“I’ve been on dates with two people since I decided to be celibate. They both went really well, but one basically ghosted me after I revealed I wanted to take things slow. I think the other is friend-zoning me, but I don’t care. I feel safe in my body again, like she’s mine. I’m learning what I like, and it’s great to not be distracted by hormones when I’m getting to know someone.
Sometimes you don’t really like a person, you just enjoy having sex with them, or like how they kiss. Now, I don’t have to worry about that. I can tell if I genuinely like spending time with someone.
Sometimes I get sad because I miss cuddling, and I panic that no one will want me. I can’t date a church boy, and most irreligious people value sex a lot. I’m not asexual either, so where does that leave me?”
How does she power through? She cries a lot, uses her rose vibrator and works out often.
Tessa is 24, has been celibate for six months and plans to remain celibate until the next time she wants to have sex again. She says it’s not a voluntary decision, she just hasn’t been with anyone.
“It’s been hard, to be honest. A lot of times, I want to entertain men but I’m just not feeling it and I don’t want regrets.”
She masturbates sometimes and is not looking to remain celibate long-term. “I think I’m just in a slump. The next time I feel horny, I just hope I have a man. I have “God when-ed” enough.”
Poppy, 22, was celibate for one year.
“This was in 2020, I just got out of a long-term sex-only relationship, and when I tried getting with other people, I always found myself dissatisfied or just irritated. At first, I thought it was the fact that I never connected with these people (the first guy was my friend), so I tried dating before sex, and even then, I felt the same, so I took some time off to focus on myself and my sexual needs.
When I first decided to end it, it was about six months in, and I met someone I found attractive. After spending a couple of hours with him, we kissed, and before we could get to it, I threw up. It was really funny, and I knew then I was not ready. Another six months and a lot of self-discovery later, I ended it on my own terms without even having a person in mind.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was not craving sex or attention or anything like that; instead, I found myself constantly repulsed by the thought of being with someone.”