top of page

Celibacy vs. Abstinence

by Danielle Wright

We often hear women saying things like, 'He stopped speaking to me because I mentioned I'm celibate,' or 'I was ghosted for my celibacy.'

But what exactly does celibate mean? Celibate and abstinent are terms often interchanged, yet they hold slight differences in meaning, and most men are aware of this. Celibacy involves refraining from sex and sexual activities for an extended period. It's frequently connected to sacred vows of priests or priestesses. Typically, when declaring celibacy, there's no foreseeable end.


For many this period without sex is used to help them focus and find clarity around their life. But of course, like anything else, there are pros and cons to consider. Typically, when you first meet someone the goal is to get to know them during the courting stage to determine whether or not you see yourself with them long-term.

Celibacy can help you build a romantic relationship with someone without the pressure of sex, focus on other important parts of your life, and grow spiritually in alignment with your religious values. So, why are men quick to leave you hanging when you admit this? The truth is, those men are not looking to build romantic connections—their priority is intimacy. Telling a man you are celibate is a great way to weed out the placeholders and keep yourself pure and focused until the right suitor comes along who is in alignment with your views.

Celibacy gives you a reason to redefine what intimacy means for you. Non-sex time is crucial for building a loving, lasting relationship although sometimes it can get lonely. People don’t talk enough about how isolated you can feel when you start your celibacy journey, mainly because it will be harder to connect with friends, family, and potential suitors during this phase. Many will want to know why you’ve chosen to practice celibacy and if you plan on ending it. Here is where the term abstinent comes into play…celibacy and abstinence differ in that one is a vow and the other is a decision not to partake for a specified reason.


Abstinence includes not taking part in something for a period—this can be abstaining from alcohol, sex, drugs, lying, or red meat. Whereas celibacy is primarily the act of not having sex. If you are interested in having sex but prefer to wait 90 days before becoming intimate with a partner, then the proper term to use is abstinent. You can say things like, “I am abstaining from sex for a few months until I cleanse my aura.”

“I prefer that we abstain from sex for at least 90 days while we’re dating.”

“I am practicing abstinence.”

I believe those statements will be better received because most men when courting a young lady would like to know their efforts are not in vain. Sure, some men simply want sex, but others are interested in a romantic relationship which of course involves sex. Men simply want to know that the option is on the table and not completely stricken if he is not practicing celibacy.

The good thing about abstinence is that you can decide what you want to be abstinent from, this can be kissing, penetration, sex altogether, oral sex, etc. A relationship that can last without sex for a period has a higher chance of being successful. Most men cannot abstain without sex and as a woman, you should want to learn this information as early as possible. Men who lack the willpower to go without sex will not make for good husbands because ultimately after having a child, it is recommended that a woman does not have sex for about 6 weeks. During this time you may feel pressured into pleasing your husband versus focusing on your newborn.

Recently, an American reality star shocked viewers after admitting that he expects his cancer-stricken wife to ‘suffer’ through sex with him so that his needs can be met. Please take into consideration that his wife is also currently undergoing chemotherapy which has side effects such as mouth sores, fever, hair loss, vomiting, fatigue, and more. But, her husband says, she must still meet his needs despite this.

“There is a difference between wants and needs, and I am a person who actually needs sex,” Maurice Scott, 43 admitted to Carlos King. “Life throws us curveballs, like what we’re going through right now, and what Kimmi is doing is admirable as a spouse.”

Interestingly enough the act of sex for heterosexual men takes on a different meaning than it does for heterosexual women. For those men sex is more than just a physical act, it is connected to other aspects of their lives such as confidence, self-worth, and validation. If a man connects his penis to his self-worth then you have a problem and can potentially land yourself in a similar situation to that of Kimmi Scott. Rejecting a man sexually is the equivalence of rejecting him overall—you do not like his personality, his appearance, his presence, regardless if this is untrue, that is how he views it.

When looking for a relationship you should do a deep dive into a man’s life and personality before deciding to marry him, let alone procreate. You do not want the burden of his self-worth to lie between your legs. Practicing abstinence while dating is a great way to avoid these pitfalls and end up with the wrong person. Indeed life throws us curveballs but your body should not have to suffer unnecessarily because of it. Choose wisely and lead in love with your head, not your heart.


bottom of page