Niamh Devereux investigates...
Every now and then, a celeb will let something slip in an interview that gets EVERYONE talking. The latest case in point? Aussie model and all-round babe Miranda Kerr’s revelation that she and fiancé Evan Spiegel (founder of Snapchat, FYI) will be waiting until marriage until they sleep together.
Now, what a couple decides to do in the bedroom is completely up to them, but the reason people have gotten into a bit of a tizzy over her comments is ‘cos Miranda clearly has had sex before – she and ex husband Orlando Bloom have a six-year-old son together. Which got us thinking about born-again virginity, when a person who has had sex in the past makes a commitment to not be sexually active until either some defined point in the future or indefinitely, whether for religious, moral or practical reasons. Miranda and Evan aren’t alone; last year Ciara and her then-fiance Russell Wilson announced that they wouldn’t be sleeping together until they were married. Now betrothed, she’s pregnant with their baby and says she wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s not exactly a new concept in pop culture either. Charlotte and Trey from SATC, anyone? In their case, like Miranda and Ciara’s, their choice was to uphold traditional values, but Nuala Deering from Relationships Ireland explains that there are many reasons one may opt for newfound celibacy.
“Apart from religious reasons, individuals and couples may decide to abstain as a means of wiping the slate clean of their past relationships and sexual histories,” she says. “Some couples may decide to focus on other aspects of their relationship, including friendship, emotional and intellectual connection before introducing the sexual element. This can be a healthy approach to establishing a long-term committed relationship.”
However, she says not having sexual intimacy can also be damaging. “A bond develops that sets the relationship apart from any other relationships or friendships. It may be unhealthy to avoid or postpone sexual intimacy as this may cover up unresolved past issues or hidden sexual problems, including sexual dysfunction.”
Again…remember Charlotte and Trey? After abstaining and saying ‘I do’, poor Char realised her new hubby wasn’t able to get it up without the help of magazines containing pictures of large-breasted women. Awkward.
Although it doubtlessly seems vital for a couple to understand the sexual chemistry that exists between them – and if there is any at all- sex therapist Margaret Dunne reckons it’s not the be all and end all for a relationship. In fact, according to Margaret, some people can be happier in their lives without sex complicating things.
“I wonder how many people would opt for chosen celibacy if it was trendy or socially acceptable?” she says. “Many clients have said to me when discussing sex that they would rather have a cup of tea!”
She continues: “Questioning sex tends to evoke feelings of uneasiness and there appears to be a significant amount of stigma associated with not having sex. Many couples grow beyond the need for sex and start relating and communicating with each other, thus expressing love and affection in a different way. They can still really enjoy each others bodies without penetrative sex.”
Of course, not just couples can give born-again virginity a try; single gals can too. One Irish woman, Filomena Kaguako, the blogger behind enhancewhatsyours.com, decided to challenge herself to a year of celibacy after the heartbreaking discovery of her long-term partner in bed with another woman.
“I’d somehow linked sex with self worth,” she confides. “I came to the realisation that I’d been going into the majority of my sexual relationships blind to the mental and emotional consequences that can come with sharing your naked body with another human being. I felt that it was time to put an end to it, and start focusing on myself.”
Like all challenges, Filomena found giving up sex difficult, to put it lightly. “My mood swings sky rocketed, particularly at that time of the month!” she confides. I would sometimes go through stages where I thought nobody wanted me even though it was my own decision.” She also found that other people couldn’t understand her decision. “Most thought it was a joke, others questioned my sexuality,” she says. “It was only until after I completed the year that people commended me for it.”
So what did she learn from her 365 days without The D? And how did it affect the next phase of her sex life? “My year of celibacy taught me that I don’t need to have sex to feel wanted” Filomena confides. “It also redefined my sex life. I’ve been more open-minded about trying new things, and I’m more choosy about who I do those things with. After a long time of not sharing those intimate moments with someone, it’s only natural that you become more susceptible to pain so that is a huge factor to consider. But once you do find that person, they can help you forget you were ever celibate to begin with!”
Does she have any advice for those considering an, um, riding detox? You bet. “Firstly, I think it’s important to define what celibacy is going to mean to you,” Filomena stresses. “Will you allow kissing? Sexting? Once you have that figured out, then my advice would be to not allow yourself to be in an environment where sex can happen. If you ever feel that you’re close to breaking it, remember why you started in the first place.”
She adds: “Lastly, if you’re going to do it then make sure you do it with an end goal in mind. There’s no point in just giving up sex for the heck of it. Be sure to have a greater purpose in mind because that’s what you will be reminding yourself of whenever you feel like straying off course!”
So, there you have it: born-again virginity ain’t just another celeb trend, like Gwyneth and her clean sleeping (ugh). If you’ve got the willpower, setting yourself the challenge might just transform your relationship, your sex life and, well, you. But on the other hand, you might end up with a Trey. Your call.
This article first appeared in our April issue. Our September issue is on shelves now!
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