“Incel stands for ‘involuntarily celibate’ which basically means “someone who isn’t getting laid because other people are denying them’ with the implication that those people shouldn’t be allowed to refuse. The idea that there should be equal distribution of sexual activity between all people seems very ‘Brave New World’ to me; and not in a good way but setting the entitlement issues aside; the phrase “involuntarily celibate” has great resonance for me. For a while in my life, I was celibate, and not by choice. I was in a long-term relationship with a man I loved very much. He was kind, intelligent, funny, handsome, independent, quirky and a completely fucking awesome cook. He adored me and showed it in many many ways. Except the one I wanted most.
He had lost all sexual interest in me a couple of years into our relationship. Part of this was due to health issues, but also because of a naturally low libido and general disinterest in sexual matters. Possibly also exacerbated by some distantly-past experience which still left him with echoes of discomfort. Either way; eventually he’d scurry out of the room at the first hint that I might be taking off my clothes and wrinkle his nose in distaste whenever I made a joke about or reference to sex. He never wanted to touch me below the neck or above the knee. I’d hint, and flirt and hope – and eventually plead. He’d let me believe he’d consider having sex with me and then find some excuse to postpone yet again later. Never once did he just come out and say “I don’t want to have sex.”. Eventually, he didn’t have to. It was clear enough.
I spent hours on /reddit/r/deadbedrooms reading the stories and thoughts of people in a similar situation to myself. I cried often and always alone.
We had frank conversations. I told him I loved him but that I couldn’t live happily without sex. I asked him to come to couples counselling. I asked him to visit the doctor. I begged him to be open and honest with me. He wouldn’t.
For four years I harboured a fear that the reason he couldn’t bear to touch me sexually or see me without clothes was that I was unattractive. I’d put on weight. I have the occasional freak hair on my tummy. Without makeup, I look kind of like a goblin. My hair wants to be a mess. I’m opinionated and often strident. Bits of me often break or malfunction, including my mind. Clearly, I may just have become unfuckable. My sadness and hurt anger over my unfucked state must therefore be my own fault.
During that time, I even stopped wanking for about a year. What was the point? I’d only end up crying, the scent of myself on my fingers when I scrubbed the tears away only heightening my loneliness and need, and self-disgust. I didn’t feel sexy any more. I’d forgotten what sexy felt like; all I had was this aching, yearning, furious, miserable, desperate need which no self-administered physical relief could cure. Why make it worse? Better to deny it altogether.
We’d been together seven years and I was almost at breaking point when an acquaintance started flirting outrageously with me and light dawned. It wasn’t me who was unfuckable, I just needed someone else to be doing the fucking. The time had come to leave. Something in me had died – I no longer wanted to have sex with my partner. I’d learned to associate the idea with frustration, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, shame and guilt. Heartbreak. He was one of the people I loved most in all the world – but just as as a friend and no longer even my closest. Something had also awoken – I’d always been able to ignore the chemistry between myself and this acquaintance before, but the dam was bursting and I was flooded with pent-up arousal.
But oh the guilt. The deep-rooted fear that I was a shallow selfish bitch that arose from the ‘nice-girls-don’t’ programming of my youth, telling me I was being greedy for wanting more than I had. And the fear; that I was walking away from the love of my life and that I’d never find someone who cared as much about me in every other way but the carnal.
I left him. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done and the first time I’d ever really stepped up and done the hard thing because it was the right thing. It broke his heart. Mine was already fractured along fault lines into ever-widening cracks. I left.
Fast forward over a whole lot of ‘…but that’s another story…’ and things are very different today. I’m happy and most definitely no longer celibate.