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Being celibate for two years has transformed my confidence

Lucinda Hart, 47, an author from Cornwall, has two daughters Rafi, 10, and Alfreida, seven. Over two years ago, after a devastating break-up, she made the decision to become celibate. Here, she explains why a life without sex has made her a better version of herself…

Lucinda Hart says giving up men and sex over the past two years was the 'best decision' she ever made. (Supplied)
Lucinda Hart says giving up men and sex over the past two years was the 'best decision' she ever made. (Supplied)

It’s been two years and two months since I last had sex, the longest time of my life I’ve ever gone without intimacy. I’d love to say my decision to become celibate in my forties was borne out of a positive time in my life, but the truth is, it was a pact I made with myself after my heart was broken.

Devastated after a relationship with a man I believed was The One came to a sudden and unexpected end, I felt so hurt and vulnerable I needed to step back from sex and men generally, to heal, reflect and reset.

I may have begun my period of celibacy in a place of darkness but it’s proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

I’m what you might call a serial monogamist and since my late teens, until 2021, I was usually in a relationship or at least dating a man.

I wasn’t interested in marriage or even living with someone though. I valued my space and independence too much, and never craved or pursued the traditional ‘set-up’, although I did always want to be a mother.

A complicated relationship history

Perhaps because of this mindset, I was often drawn to men who’d eventually prove to be unsuitable – older men, men who had commitment issues, men who were heavy drinkers, men with other problems…

My relationship history was busy and often rocky. Sometimes I was in love, sometimes I wasn’t, some break-ups hit me harder than others.

I had relationships which lasted a few years, others just a few months, and sex of course featured in all of them.

I never waited long to sleep with a man, including doing it on a first date, but was never into casual sex with strangers. I’ve always really enjoyed sex, particularly the anticipation before the first time with a guy, and then the pleasure and excitement of the act itself.

My relationship history was busy and often rocky. Sometimes I was in love, sometimes I wasn’t, some break-ups hit me harder than others.

Unlike many women, I was less keen on emotional intimacy, pillow talk just isn’t for me. I compare sex to eating chocolate – once it’s finished, I’m done. It’s a more male 'take' than a female one, I know.

In 2014 and 2017, my daughters Rafi, now 10, and Alfreida, now seven, were born via IVF using donor sperm. I was overjoyed to have realised my dream of motherhood, and it was ironic that despite being in a relationship at the time, my girls had come into the world without me being intimate with a man.

Lucinda Hart, pictured with her two daughters Rafi and Alfreida. (Supplied)
Lucinda Hart, pictured with her two daughters Rafi and Alfreida. (Supplied)

Having my heart broken

My then boyfriend, who I met online, didn’t want children but had no issue with me becoming a solo mother, and we split in 2018 simply because things had run their course.

In early 2021, I started a new relationship and everything changed. I fell deeply in love with him, he was amazing with my daughters and the sex was wonderful.

All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fell into place and for the first time in my life, I wanted more. I wanted to really settle down, perhaps even have another child with him. I’d never felt this way about someone before, all my hopes and expectations shifted.

Knowing I had given myself to someone both physically and emotionally, who’d then thrown it back in my face, I felt so betrayed and vulnerable.

The last time we had sex was late November 2021, although I had no idea it would be the final time I’d find myself in bed with a man for a very long time. Soon after that, he took me for a drive, parked in a local car park and told me it was over. Not only did he not see a future with me, he also admitted he didn’t enjoy sex with me. It was a double blow.

I was so shocked I was physically sick after he dropped me home, and absolutely devastated. Once the initial shock subsided and I was able to think more clearly, I knew what I needed to do. Step back from men, from relationships and of course, sex.

Lucinda Hart says she has realised she doesn't need a partner to feel happy and fulfilled. (Supplied)
Lucinda Hart says she has realised she doesn't need a partner to feel happy and fulfilled. (Supplied)

Moving on

Knowing I had given myself to someone both physically and emotionally, who’d then thrown it back in my face, I felt so betrayed and vulnerable. I needed to heal and withdraw from that part of my life in order to do so.

To begin with, the idea of being celibate didn’t faze me because I was so heartbroken, I couldn’t imagine being with any man anyway. It was easy, because I had no desire to be vulnerable in the way that sex can make you feel.

I threw myself into other parts of my life that I knew would bring me pleasure, but without emotional risk. Motherhood, fitness, working on my latest book – they all brought me joy and fulfilment and I absorbed myself in them.

On New Year’s Eve I sat down and made a list of all the good things that have happened in my life since I became celibate.

As time passed though, and the wounds of that split began to heal, I did begin to miss sex some days. I missed that feeling of excitement and wonder that characterises the lead up to the first time, the endorphin rush in the immediate aftermath, and the feeling of being physically attractive to someone.

Early last year, I did have a wobble and created a Tinder profile, considering dabbling in dating again just so I could have sex. But after exchanging a few messages with men I came to my senses and realised this wasn’t what I wanted. I renewed my pledge to keep sex and men out of my life, and focus just on myself.

Lucinda Hart says celibacy has increased her sense of self-worth. (Supplied)
Lucinda Hart says celibacy has increased her sense of self-worth. (Supplied)

Reflecting on the past

On New Year’s Eve last year I sat down and made a list of all the good things that have happened in my life since I became celibate. It included spending even more time with my daughters creating memories, career success, becoming fit and toned, and most significantly, growing into a more confident and content version of myself.

Celibacy has increased my sense of self-worth because I’ve had to find it only from within myself, and not rely on a man sleeping with me to make me feel attractive and of value. I’ve also reflected on my own attitudes and behaviours, realising I have often rushed into sex and relationships and given myself too soon to men, to my detriment.

I’ve also reflected on my own attitudes and behaviours, realising I have often rushed into sex and relationships

Realising that I can feel happy and fulfilled without a physical relationship with a man has been a very positive revelation. I’d never known adult life without sex, and it took cutting it out completely to learn it’s not as important as I once thought it was. I like it but I don’t need it, I can live a perfectly happy life without it.

Feeling grateful

Now, when friends confide in me, agonising over when they should sleep with a new partner, or did they sleep with him too soon, or was he left unsatisfied by them in bed, I feel relieved to be removed from all that. I see it’s not making them happy, it’s not enhancing their life one bit, only complicating it.

I do still struggle with the question I often ask myself – how long will this last? When will I feel ready to be intimate with a man again, and trust it’s the right decision for me? I really have no idea, and I suppose much depends on when or if I meet a man I deem worthy enough to break this pact I’ve made.

For now, I climb into bed alone every evening, after tucking my daughters in, and I don’t feel lonely or dissatisfied. Rather, I am filled with gratitude and relief that I took this step – I’m a better person for it.

Lucinda’s latest book, The Summer and The May is out now.