I Avoided Sex…

I used to know a woman on the scene who would get other women into bed purely so they would help her with her crosswords.

And I was personal friends with a lesbian who would vocally promote the idea of necrophilia (that’s an erotic attraction to corpses, just so you know) over the awkwardness of dating a responsive, breathing woman.

I didn’t know I was avoiding having sex for the first ten years or so of my adult life.
I just knew I wasn’t getting any, and I didn’t understand why.

Now, there are many effective *conscious* tactics for avoiding having sex, such as being creepy, smearing food down your clothes, and remaining stoned at all times. … However, what I was doing was subconscious.

Whether I had embarked upon a romantic relationship, or was out in a club, the result was the same: I went home alone.

But hey, sex is scary, it’s messy, it confirms your lesbian identity.
Who needs that?

Looking back, these are the subconscious tactics I used to avoid having sex …

Being hopelessly romantic

The idea is to dream rather than experience reality.
So, the object of my affections would preferably be unattainable. I would try to select from the following categories:

  • straight
  • Christian
  • over thirty years older
  • my teacher
  • in a committed relationship
  • out of my league
  • celebrity
  • assumed straight, though just possibly not (this was a bit risqué. I had to be careful with this one, it might have lead somewhere)

Believing women are precious and should not be defiled

I put any woman I was strongly attracted to on such a high pedestal that she became some kind of a goddess.

Now, you can’t go touching up the divine, can you?
That’s not on.


I constructed in my mind a form of romance in which the stronger the love was, the longer you waited to have sex. We’re talking The Remains of the Day –style waiting here (twenty years of unexpressed yearning. I am possibly the only person on Earth who made myself wait—several years—to watch that film).

I decided too that this attitude of waiting (… forever) was a universal rule, that everyone felt the same way. So, if someone made a move on me, it was clear to me that she didn’t like me.

This lead to all kinds of confusion and heartache … but it kept me out of bed.

Being an (ex) Christian

There’s no safer way to mess yourself up over your sexual expression and sense of identity than to believe that the Bible is literally true.

I spent many years, in my late teens and early twenties, believing that if I touched another woman, I would ruin her life (and afterlife).

Believing the first time must be perfect

Biblical condemnations of lesbian sex aside … perfection was an easy idea to hold onto when my Christian upbringing told me that the old white bearded man in the sky directs every single event in my life.

But as an ex-Christian, I would have to create that perfection myself. Best avoided.


It took me years to recognise the pattern here.
Whenever I was making sexual inroads at a club/pub/party, somehow the conversation would mysteriously lead to some kind of upsetting incident in my past.

After I’d had a good alcohol-fuelled cry, the woman I’d been making progress with all evening would feel she couldn’t then ‘take advantage.’

I spent ten years successfully avoiding having sex. I barely got laid in my twenties.
I’m happy to say I’m in my forties now.

Was it just me, though?

Do you, or did you, have ways of avoiding sex?

I’d love to know.

Natasha Holme is author of Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia: A Diary on How I Acquired my Eating Disorder.



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  1. Bridget

    I’m two weeks away from my 25th Birthday, and this is totally my story! In a club environment I often attract some attention, have a little kiss but that’s as far as I’ll ever let it go. I avoid sex, and find any excuse. I always form attractions to people that I know I can’t have for many of the reasons you’ve listed. I’ve idealised/romanticised the whole sex thing I think, never met the right girl, and just thought something would happen in time… but it still hasn’t.

  2. Bridget

    The thing is the older I become, the more nervous I get and I even go out less often now too. I can’t fully explain why I am afraid, I came out to my family several years ago and they are very accepting and happy for me to love whoever I choose… (I used to use them not knowing as an excuse not to pursue a relationship sexually)… but even now, without the fear of family rejection, I still find ways to avoid sex. The silly thing is I would love a relationship and have quite a high sex drive… I think I just have this innate fear of getting hurt.

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