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'Questioning sex makes people very uneasy and there's a lot of stigma about not having sex,' says Hephzibah Anderson, who wrote the memoir Chastened (Vintage, £7.99) after choosing to be celibate for a year.
'But most of us will go through a dry spell at some point, and some people just aren't that into it. One of the reasons I wrote the book was to try to bring celibacy back as an option.' While people may dip in and out of celibacy, asexuality tends to be a permanent state.
I am going to be given a sum of £1,500 and want to spend it on finding a companion. I have looked at websites and find them so off-putting.
Having to send a photograph is daunting (I photograph badly).
Take it away and people learn to communicate properly, to really connect.’Atalanta, who lives in a pretty Sussex village with her 16-year-old son Alfred, initially intended the site to be a traditional matchmaking forum — but was pleasantly surprised to see it evolve into a platonic meeting place as well.‘Working life has changed.
Recent research suggests that one in 20 couples is celibate, though not necessarily by mutual choice; while about one per cent of the population is asexual – that is, not sexually attracted to anyone.
The Aven online asexual network has 40,000 members worldwide.
Its founder, David Jay, says that being asexual can be isolating. 'A lot of asexual people feel disempowered or broken, wondering where they fit into society, especially since it can seem as though sex is necessary for happiness.' 'Socially, we've made sex an imperative,' says Paula Hall, a sexual psychotherapist for Relate.
I want to start looking at your problem, Jennifer, by challenging your assumption that most people of your age are lonely.
Some people are lonely, I do agree, and it is a downside of ageing that there is shrinkage and loss.