The celibacy syndrome – being single by choice is the new reality.

A few months ago I posted on a French woman’s book about celibacy called, The Art of Sleeping Alone. Today in the Guardian I read a story about the lack of interest Japanese youth have in sex or marriage.

Here are a few of the statistics quoted in the article:

The number of single people in Japan has reached a record high. A survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10% from five years earlier. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all. A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact“. More than a quarter of men felt the same way. Fewer babies were born here in 2012 than any year on record. Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like“.

Both men and women said they don’t see the point of love. They don’t believe it can lead anywhere and that relationships have become too hard.

I have been single (never married) for 42 years and celibate for the past 14 years. Given that I never wanted to get married and have children, I can relate to the idea that relationships don’t lead anywhere . . . and that they are hard. Most of the relationships I did have came about because I wanted to be friends with a man I liked, (and he expected the friendship to include sex). A young woman blogger wrote recently about her boyfriend feeling that sex was “an entitlement.” This bothered her. I was thrilled to finally hear a woman talking about this.

Based on my life experience, sex and marriage are overrated; neither are necessary to personal happiness, achievement or fulfillment. If the social pressure to be partnered finally goes away, as is happening in Japan, I think more and more people will choose to be single. I have seen this happening among my friends and their children, and the statistics in the US are showing a growing trend of people living alone.


4 thoughts on “The celibacy syndrome – being single by choice is the new reality.

  1. Interesting. Very interesting. I’ve done the marriage and kids thing and so I figured that the fact that I’m not yearning for a boyfriend was because I don’t want to eventually get married again and I’m done having kids anyway. But I understand that you don’t have to eventually get married to have a relationship. Reading this made me think that there might be something else going on. Sex, and overnight visits, do seem like an entitlement these days, and “moving in” officially or just by habit. I haven’t done this, but it seems like that is what society expects. Maybe I’m not really into having a relationship where it will be assumed that I will have to give up my space or that even if I only had “overnights” when my kids weren’t around that it would be expected. Even a relationship that doesn’t lead anywhere still is expected to appear like a marriage, albeit short-term. I don’t want to play house.

    Maybe if I was presented with an opportunity for a relationship that I was comfortable with, morally, where I could still have space and time and choices, well that would be good. You’ve given me much to think about. Thanks.


    1. I think women are increasingly resistant to doing what society expects of them. For thousands of years, we have gone along with a world that was defined by men, for men. When more of us start to question whether or not something is right for us, society will change and the world will start to look very different. Thanks for sharing your perspective.


  2. I was married for 30 years, had 4 kids, and my X was a very toxic man, so our relationship was also toxic. I’m divorced, and have been for 11 years. I do not regret it nor did I shed one damn tear. I’ve been in several “relationships”, and some friendships with benefits. I’m 64 now, retired, single and still looking. After reading “Five Types of Introverts”, I would say I am a conflicted introvert. I do not fit in no matter what I do or say. I have tried and done a lot of different activities and jobs, and have joined a lot of secular and religious groups and not one did I ever feel a part of, not even any of the introvert groups on FB. I have friends, but only 3, and making new friends is not an option. It’s too hard. Going back to being in a relationship, I keep looking even though I don’t see it happening, and struggling to be ok with the idea of being alone the rest of my life. The idea frightens and overwhelms me. And I want feel peaceful about it. Any helpful suggestions? Also, the idea of sex as being an entitlement, is wrong. It is not an entitlement, nor an obligation. It is earned, through understanding, patience, and respect of each other. Notice I did not say “love”. But love can be a part of it, of course. This is one thing men do not seem or even try to understand, and it really disturbs me. They always feel sex is an entitlement no matter what the relationship and you better oblige and do it well, or you’re out. Must be the real reason why I don’t allow men get too close.


    1. Thank you for this comment. I think most older women are facing the same questions and fears. We have identified the problem(s) but don’t know how to resolve them. I agree that the old solutions don’t work. My only suggestion is to believe that the answers will emerge from within yourself.


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