The National Catholic Review

Much has been written, is being written, and will continue to be written about celibacy in the priesthood and its effects. Contrastingly, very little is written about persons who, for many reasons, find themselves alone despite related efforts to connect intimately with others. In the past several years, a psychological concept called Involuntary Celibacy or INCEL, has appeared in the psychological literature. Perhaps only those who experience this condition know how taxing and troubling it can be. From Wikipedia:

Involuntary celibacy is the absence in human sexuality of intimate relationships or sexual intercourse for reasons other than voluntary celibacy, asexuality, antisexualism, or sexual abstinence. The term (which is sometimes shortened to Incel) describes those who, despite being open to sexual intimacy and potential romance with someone and also making active, repeated efforts towards such an end, cannot cause any such end(s) to occur with any significant degree of regularity—or even at all.

As a concept, involuntary celibacy distinguishes itself from other various celibacy types by two major overall characteristics: First, it is a pattern-like, semi-perpetual condition that cannot seem to improve despite concentrated effort of the affected individual towards improving sex appeal and social skills to try to attract sexual partners. Second, involuntarily celibate individuals are at a complete or near-complete lack for intimate physical connection for very long spans of time—years and even sometimes decades, not merely weeks or months—and are also at a complete or near-complete lack of opportunities for sexual advancement in the first place, thereby making betterment of their own sexuality through accumulation of "sexual experience" impossible.[1]

Many types of celibacy, including voluntary or semi-voluntary celibacy, exist throughout the spectrum of human sexuality; such instances of lack of sex are very common in the human experience. Involuntary celibacy is seen (chiefly by those who are affected by it) as a separate psychosocial issue to be taken seriously in its own right both because of the sheer extended lengths of time involved in Incel "dry spells", and also because such extended lack can have actual discernible negative consequences on a person's sexual development. However, despite corollaries such as sleep-pattern clinics that study insomnia, sex research clinics do not seem to have much interest in studying Incel.[2]

What makes involuntary celibacy an especially difficult condition for its sufferers to deal with is the fact that most of the time the circumstance cannot be explained through external personal factors—most Incels, based on inquests by researchers into the population, are not especially physically unattractive, and most resemble in an interpersonal sense their peers who are not involuntarily celibate.[1] Although a few of the involuntarily celibate population may have discernible personality disorders that preclude current and future sexual opportunities, the small amount of research done on this subject indicates that the Incel population are on the whole socially normal, healthy individuals whose frustration is merely a product of their lack of sex, and not vice versa.[1] This makes an individual's involuntarily celibate situation extremely difficult to resolve through the standard psychological methods of pinpointing and "fixing" internal and external life circumstances.

The Journal of Sex Research (May 2001) presented an article, "Involuntary Celibacy: A Life Course Analysis--Statistical Data Included."  There is also a Web site run by persons who consider themselves to be "Incels" with many different discussion threads. Within a Church where much time and effort are devoted to couples and families, acknowledgment of the presence of good people who experience this vexing condition may be an important pastoral concern.

William Van Ornum



Kayna Pfeiffer | 3/1/2011 - 11:11pm
After reading the study on involuntary celibacy that you provided a link to, I learned that many of the participants of this study identified with similar feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and inadequacy towards having a lack of sexual experience. Their feelings are warranted given the amount of attention that the media and our culture places on sexuality. In one form or another, the promotion of sexuality is all around us on TV, billboards, and in songs. Even if we try to escape it is always seems to find us. Due to this, having a lack of sexual experience seems to give off a negative connotation. I can see how this is the case seeing that it is human nature to procreate and by not engaging in this behavior, human existence is being threatened. However, I do not think this necessarily needs to always be thought of negatively.

People grow and develop physically and emotionally at their own time in life so who is to say what is ''normal'' in regards to the age one is supposed to engage in sexual experience. Views on sexuality differ amongst people and societies and should be assessed on an individual basis given that we all have our own value systems and moral codes. Thus those who feel inadequate due to their sexual inexperience should not blame themselves, especially since many of the participants of the INCEL study have made valiant efforts at dating.

In regards of the Church, I have the utmost respect for priests and their selflessness. It is very commendable that they are able to resist their sexual urges and remain celibate and devoted to God. The Church should encourage the development of support groups to help people who feel this way so that they do not have to feel that they are the only one going through this.
Marie Rehbein | 2/26/2011 - 9:30am
David, I think my phrasing was the result of my discussing this in connection with the Catholic Church and its teaching.  I sensed that the kids were going with blaming the church for preventing people from finding happiness in life by advocating for one way of life and then excluding a type of person from that.  My point is the same as yours.  The way society is arranged, it is fairly difficult to form friendships that have the same sustaining qualities that being part of a family unit has, and there are pressures to leave one's birth family as one ages in order to be thought of as normal.
Marie Rehbein | 2/25/2011 - 9:19pm
I thought I might throw this out to see if anyone is still reading.  My daughter who is in eighth grade in Catholic school and her friends decided to see what their teacher would say about marriage given that their religion class is talking about the topic of marriage.  The teacher's absolute position was that marriage is for having children and unless one is ready to have children, one should not marry.  Presumably, unmarried, one would not be engaging in behaviors that lead toward reproduction.

My daughter asked whether the teaching required homosexuals to marry someone of the opposite sex and to have children in order to not have a lonely life.  The teacher said that the church did not want people to be unhappy in life in order to conform.  So, :) they agreed that those who could not marry could be priests and thus not lonely.

My comment to my daughter, when she told me about this, was that society is to blame for people not being able to form strong, sustaining friendships that serve as alternatives to marriage. 

Any thoughts?
Janice Feng | 2/24/2011 - 6:09pm
As you said, many of the Incels who were studied resembled the general population, so I wonder what outside help can actually be offered if there is no method available for "pinpointing and "fixing"" this kind of life situation. I wonder if involuntary celibacy continues to happen [for such long periods of time] due to the possibility that people tend to become frustrated and hopeless in their situation. I am not sure, but it could seem that this would create an ongoing pattern that further pushes an individual into staying in this state. Perhaps the church should not so much focus on "single nights", but focus on counseling those to get out of their rut by helping them regain hope and faith in themselves. I could imagine that a person in this state would tend to be in lower moods/or easily put in lower moods when surrounded by their peers who so easily find ways to be "intimate." For some it may be the case that thoughts of this involuntary celibacy/lack of intimacy run their life without them knowing, and this is where religious counseling can come in. The individual needs to focus on themselves and their relationship with God, knowing that he will provide when the time is right. When the individual is so focused on gaining this intimacy, they lose sight of where they should be focused on. As cliche as this may be, many times an individual finds what he or she is looking for when they are not looking for it.
we vnornm | 2/24/2011 - 11:36am
Thanks, Juan, Lent is coming up, maybe I should give up any mention of this topic during these important 40 days. best, bill
Juan Lino | 2/24/2011 - 11:28am
Bill – If you hadn’t written your post I wouldn’t have learned something new and so I am grateful to you, and everyone who wrote a comment, because it increased my awareness of an aspect of reality that I was not aware of – always a good thing!  I find that we are most “Church” when we help each other develop a greater sensitivity to the “Truth.”  Yes, discussions of sexuality are always a mine-field but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leap into the mine-field every once in a while! 

Marie - you raise a very interesting point!
we vnornm | 2/24/2011 - 10:59am

"Friendships but no romance." Exactly! And it's possible to have "romance" in line with the church, I think! (No more details need be discussed). There does seem to be more romance in our Southern culture. best, bill
Marie Rehbein | 2/24/2011 - 10:47am
Bill, I was thinking about this topic some more this morning and wondering whether we are talking about people who have friendships but no romance in their lives.  Are people lamenting the lack of romance, but not expressing it as that?  Having lived in different regions of the US for extended periods, I would say that another factor in what people are experiencing is cultural.  The southeast, as opposed to the rest of the country, seems to be a much more romantically inclined region.  Maybe people who are "lonely" should consider moving.
we vnornm | 2/24/2011 - 8:33am
Thanks to readers for pointing out the conclusions or messages, not meant or intended, but which may be present as you read through everything. The topic of sexuality is difficult to write about, perhaps it is better for me to go with less provocative topics, or at least ones that can be expressed with more precision? (Have notice this other blogs, other publications, etc.)
Sorry, Juan, for the grouchiness; you are kind to bring in the Internet as attenuating this; keep writing please! David, you are on target, but going over everything on a new morning, I readily see how there could be other interpretations. Whew! amdg, bill
Anonymous | 2/24/2011 - 1:17am
Back at you, Janice. From one Social Worker to another. Nothing is lost in the service of His Kingdom, right?
JANICE JOHNSON | 2/24/2011 - 12:47am
Juan and Maria,

Thank you both so much for your encouraging, caring words.  We are indeed all together in the Body of Christ!  Juan, I made a note of the book you recommended and will be reading it soon.  Jean Vanier is one of our contemporary saints.  I heard him speak once, years ago and I admire very much his work with the mentally disabled.  God bless you both.
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 4:09pm
Whoops. Should be: I also think that are plenty of women, abused as children, who are not capable of marriage, who “made so by men”.
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 4:07pm
This is an interesting subject , Bill. Iissues related to the definition of terms related to the topic at hand. I have always found them confusing until I read what Jimmy Akin had to say: 
“First, let’s be clear about what celibacy is: It’s the property of not being married. Anyone who is not married is, by definition, celibate. People often confuse this with two other concepts—continence (which in a sexual context means not having sex) and chastity (which means behaving in an appropriate manner sexually, based on your state of life). If a person is celibate (unmarried) and they wish to be chaste (act in a moral manner, sexually) then they will be continent (not have sex), because sex outside of marriage is immoral. By contrast, if you are not celibate (i.e., you are married) then you can be chaste (act in a sexually moral manner) even though you presumably are not continent (i.e., are having sex)."
I realize that quotations are frowned upon; however, it I think that in this context it helps our discussion. Are we to conclude that continence and chastity, outside the married state in life, comprises a form of pathology? If so, then, oh, my gosh. I hope that I am correctly interpreting your post.
Janice: I really thought about how I might say something so as to provide comfort. Then, I read your post. It seems the good God did it Himself. The answer is always the Cross, isn’t it? When God’s will crosses my will, I encounter the Cross. You never know how your suffering redeems someone else, right? Trust that it does. Christ tell us:
“That is something that not everyone can accept, but only those for whom God has appointed it. For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or were made so by men, there are others who have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let those accept it who can. (Matthew 19:11-12)”.
I also think that are plenty of women, abused as children, who are not incapable of marriage, who “made so by men”.
Bill: I think that all of our crosses are involuntary.  How could they be otherwise?
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 2:37pm
Brett - I follow and adhere to Christ in Communion and Liberation, an ecclesial lay movement.
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 2:19pm
Juan: "Perhaps where we would disagree is what "form" this compassion should take."

Exactly!  I do not think the compassion cited in this study - worrying of dry spells and sexual experiences as crucial for "personal development" - is the compassion we should be striving for.  That said, I do not believe that this is what Bill was sugguesting, but was simply bringing up the study to address it from the Catholic perspective rather than the more dogmatic materialism of modern psychology.

What movement do you belong to Juan?  I am involved with some young Catholic groups in my area - but nothing too big. 

In any case, as for friendship and intimacy young Catholics need not rely only on the parish structure - but can suplement it with social networking to find and connect with like minds and companions to join us on our pilgrimage through the wasteland of modern culture, so to speak ;)
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 2:18pm
Hello J.E. – thank you for your beautiful testimony! Yes, I rubbed Bill the wrong way but that’s one of the flaws of this wonderful technology – one can’t see a person’s comportment or their eyes, etc. and so things come off harsher than they would in person. In my School of Community there are people of all ages with the majority being in the 30s to 40s range and so I have some idea of their struggles.

Perhaps because CL stresses the link between Christ and the deepest desires of the heart we seem to tackle the topic of friendship often and we strive - although in a limping manner - to be a community that incarnates Love.

It’s a bit off topic but one book I found very helpful dealing with the emotional rollercoaster that I often ride is Seeing Beyond Depression by Jean Vanier.

Thanks again for your testimony.
JANICE JOHNSON | 2/23/2011 - 1:56pm

Thank you for your kind words and prayers.  They are greatly appreciated.  Today at Mass I asked myself:  how can you believe in a God that allows so much suffering?  The answer cam immediately:  because this God died an excruciating and humiliating death on a cross for all humanity, including me.  This God put me in a family with a flawed but always loving and protective father.

As for involuntary celibicy, I think Bill is merely trying to help us see the needs of people who are involuntarily celibate, but resigned to that state and attempting to live good, productive lives.  Why can't the church show more recognition and compassion for these people.  Many live heroic lives.  In my age group there is a multitude of widows, divorcees and never-marrieds.  I've been in parishes in which a great amount of time and engergy is devoted to couples and families.  I'm not saying there shouldn't be that investment, but what about the others who don't fit that category?  As my own parish has a large population of older people, we do give recognition by having a monthly catered luncheon for seniors, the great majority of whom are women without partners.  On the other end of the age spectrum, the youth and their needs are also deserving of recognition and attention as they try to live in a sexually permissive, exploitative culture.  It seems to me that parishes could do a whole lot more for this age group.  It is a good thing that there are movements for youth such as yours.
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 1:21pm

I intentionally started my post as follows: "Presuming that I am reading your post and your reply to Brett correctly," precisely because I was not certain that what I am reading into the post and your reply is what you actually intend (and I certainly didn't mean to imply that you were contradicting the CCC).  Since you are saying that I misread your "premises" I apologize. 

And yes, this is certainly a hot button topic and I agree that we need compassion towards anyone that is suffering.  Perhaps where we would disagree is what "form" this compassion should take.  So when I wrote - That’s not to say that the pain the “Incels” experience is not real or should be dismissed, I am simply pointing out that there is another way to find a solution. - I was implying that the "psychologoical" solution is not necessarily the only, or best, one to use.   I am not pontificating, I am just offering an experience.

Marie Rehbein | 2/23/2011 - 1:19pm
Isn't this where psychologists get their liberal label - the tolerance of sexual behavior that does not conform to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and now the concern that some people might be conforming to the Catechism without intending to?  If there is an issue here of people not finding their one and only, would the Church not be declaring that this is an indication of a calling?  Would it be valid for a psychologist to offer the same assessment?
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 11:51am
oops - a typo: at the life and teachings of ...

Also, my comment was meant for Bill.
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 11:48am
Presuming that I am reading your post and your reply to Brett correctly, you seem to posit several premises that I disagree with. First, that one can’t “connect intimately with others” unless there’s sex involved. Second, you seem to imply that we should discard the fact that Christ shows us what it means to be authentically human by, in a sense, unconsciously asserting that Christ seemed to have “screwed up” in some way because he did not apply what Genesis advocates in His own life.

Additionally, presuming the “Incels” are Catholic Christians, shouldn’t they be encouraged to look at the live and teachings of the “new Adam” for an insight into what it means to be human. After all, don’t we believe – I mean really believe – what is proclaimed in #22 of GAUDIUM ET SPES: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”

That’s not to say that the pain the “Incels” experience is not real or should be dismissed, I am simply pointing out that there is another way to find a solution.

Lastly, perhaps the fact that the sense of "community" in most parishes is "zero", perhaps this point to the fact that this must be fostered.  After all, in the Movement I belong to, friendship is seen as a "kind of sacramental."
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 11:45am
"lengths of time involved in Incel "dry spells", and also because such extended lack can have actual discernible negative consequences on a person's sexual development."

Dry spells? 

Are you sure they are not basing their study on the hook-up culture and a more materialist view of human sexuality that is so dominant today?
Juan Lino | 2/23/2011 - 11:06am
Dear J.E.,

I am so sorry that you had this terrible experience!!!  Having both experienced physical pain and emotional/psychic pain in my life I know that the later is in many ways worse than the former.  I am not sure we will ever know the answer the heart wrenching question you ask at the end of your comment on this side of the veil but I can tell you that I will remember you in my prayers this evening and will offer up all the sacrifices I will make today for your intentions.    
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 9:26am
Is couching the issue in terms of "sex" and "celibacy" a way to call attention to it (and gain more funding), because it sounds like the issue here is not the sexual act itself, nor celibacy as unmarried status, but intimacy.  

Our country is obsessed with the sexual act, and the multimedia assault of sexual images everywhere - and particularly the objectiification of people - creates desires, needs, demands, and, now, psychological disorders over what is primarily a selfish act.  As with homosexuality, nobody's doing research on how to prevent the obsession; rather they're studying how to accomodate it and fix the problems that it creates.

A lack of intimacy, of giving love and receiving love; this, not the lack of sexual intercourse, is where the research should primarily be focussing.  Once you resolve the intimacy issues, in most cases, the sex follows.  Focussing merely on the act just encourages sex without intimacy - the kind of sex that is taking place in junior and senior high schools and colleges across the country, not to mention incidents of forced sex.

Knud Rasmussen | 2/22/2011 - 11:10pm
I think Bill Van Ornum has hit on a significant issue here, and it's one that the Church hasn't paid enough attention to. Certainly, it's a topic that should be of pastoral concern. Beyond that, though, I wonder if this is an issue that has not been well-dealt with theologically.

I always cringe when I hear someone state the view that, in the eyes of the Church, some are "called to the single life" - i.e., that they are called to live in celibate chastity without becoming priests or religious. I am sure that some are genuinely called in this way, but I suspect that there are more who are 'involuntarily chaste' and who do not feel so called. I would think that people in this situation could reasonably take offense at the "called to the single life" line if it's delivered without appropriate qualification - that is, I wonder whether the "called to the single life" idea can be made into a theological excuse for the fact that some are unable to find the intimate relationships to which they really do feel called.
Craig McKee | 2/22/2011 - 10:55pm
From the JSR article:


The 82 persons who comprise our sample (60 men and 22 women) are described in more detail in Table 1. Sixty-three percent were age 34 or younger (the modal category was ages 25-34). Twenty-eight percent were married or living with a long-term partner. Only 5% had not completed high school, while 89% had attended or completed college. Professionals and students were the two largest occupational groups in the sample, with 45% identifying their occupational status as professional and 16% identifying as students. Eighty-five percent of the sample was White. Eighty-nine percent were heterosexual, 5% bisexual, 3% homosexual, and 4% identified as confused or unsure. Seventy percent resided in the U.S., with 30% of respondents living outside the U.S. (primarily Western Europe, Australia, or Canada).
While the INCEL phenomenon may present a fertile area for new research, and the predominant 25-34 demographic of particular interest to various denominations and churches, it would be difficult to design any future pastoral responses based on such a limited sample, especially since the role of religion/faith/spirituality in the lives of the subjects was apparently not factored into the inquiry or its findings.

JANICE JOHNSON | 2/22/2011 - 9:16pm
This comment is mainly off topic but refers to previous discussions and some of it pertains to the current subject.

We've discussed bullying on this site and Bill also writes blogs on it for the Americn Mental Health Foundation.  I recently experienced psychological bullying at the end of a friendship. I learned a few things by this experience that I'd like to share.  Whether the bullying is intentional or non intentional; conscious or unconscious , or based on gross misunderstandings and knowledge, the results may be the same;  feelings f being battered, betrayed and sinking into depression.  An unequal relationship where one person is more intelligent, better educated and more accomplished in life with an imbalance of power can be very difficult for a vulnerable person.  I'm sure the incident I experienced was completely unintentional and based on gross misunderstandings.  This friend is most certainly not a bully.  But, I'm left feeling very battered and depressed.

For months the friendship was extremely meaningful for me.  Like a gift from God.  As time went on I began to feel somewhat uncomfortable at my responses to some of his personal sharings.  I thought a lot about what I had learned almost 30 yrs ago in therapy dealing with my childhood molestation......the repetition compulsion, my strong attraction to wounded men(needy and ambivalent in relationships) and my deep fear of being used again, To complicate my life even more, is my "rescue fantasy".  The slogan:  "I belong where I'm needed" suits me perfectly.  This combination of  psychological problems has been and is my lifetime cross.  I went to therapy after a painful divorce and several failed relationships.  I used my children's special needs as a reason to withdraw from a social life with men.  So my life of celibacy was sort of voluntary-involuntary and very painful after a long marriage.

Because I felt pretty powerless in this friendship I began to think more and more that I was being used for this man's own needs.  I finally brought things to a head and it seemed as if all hell broke loose.  I found myself in a nightmare.  It was like I was participating in a game in which I didn't know the rules but the other player did.  I was so confused and increasingly anxious, not sleeping well and felt I had to end this someway, but wanted to salvedge something of the good feelings of the relationship.  I am good at sabatoging relationships and made a comment I knew would do that.  I couldn't understand anything he was telling me, what the purpose was until his very last message which cut me to the core. 

For my healing I am greatly in need of a reconciliation, a mutual forgiving of mistakes.  Since this is not possible, I am going to follow Fr. Martin's advice in his article on "turning the other cheek" -embracing your own powerlessness.  you are not God and so cannot force anyone's reconciliation.  Letting go is paramount.  But, I wonder how could God allow this suffering when I already have such a difficult life.
PJ Johnston | 2/22/2011 - 8:18pm
Thank you for posting this - I won't burden anybody with trying to describe how painful it is to have no experience of an intimate relationship and no likelihood of ever being able to pursue one (and I don't really want to talk about it either), but I do appreciate it that someone cares enough about people like us to post about the problem.

I tried a psychiatrist once, but as you indicate above they said they didn't think there would be progress in 15 sessions (an insurance cap), as it's not the sort of thing the standard approach to therapy is ideally equipped to address.  Translated into English I think that means it's a problem they don't hear that much about and don't have the foggiest clue how to treat.
we vnornm | 2/22/2011 - 6:18pm

Don't think the point here is "single without sex" although it may sound this way so I'm glad you brought this up so it can be clarified....the article is talking about people who for whatever reason cannot attain a state of intimacy with another despite all their best efforts...sometimes over decades....if they are Catholic we might expect that they would desire to wait until marriage for this to occur. There is a line from Genesis that supports how hard it must be to experience INCEL: it is  not good for men and women to be alone. Most singles have the hope of finding someone to love and for most this occurs; for "Incels" this may not happen across a lifetime. bill

we vnornm | 2/23/2011 - 12:55pm
oops...comment for Juan, not Brett..sorry

For some reason, sure is a hot-button topic.....
we vnornm | 2/23/2011 - 12:12pm

I'm just suggesting some human compassion here rather than preaching. I've read everything careful including my response to #2-I don't find anything in opposition to the Catechism- and I take a wee bit of umbrage that you are implying I have said things which I haven't. I'm not implying anything about Our Lord and I do think you might consider being a bit more careful about pontificating to me.  best, bill
Anonymous | 2/22/2011 - 6:00pm
Is this study the perfect example scientific reductionism and compassion run amuck, or is it just me? 

Being single and without sex is now a "condition" to be cured or addressed in the name of health and equality?  Yikes - it is close to the materialism that Huxley describes in the Brave New World. 

While the Church definitely should focus more on attracting singles (and this coinsides with attracting younger generations), to reduce intimacy with sexual activity is something  materialists such as evolutionary psychologists, but it is not the view the Church should take.

If anything, the Church should focus on the holistic aspect of the person and human sexuality so that young people may better understand and purse their vocations rather than adopt the reductionist and materialistic tendencies of such scientific proclamations and studies.
Anonymous | 2/23/2011 - 3:04pm
Thanks - I'll google it.
Christine Castellana | 3/4/2011 - 11:52am
I do not really know what to make of this.  Is not having sex such a bad thing?  I guess I can somewhat understand.  I had a friend once who would be really grumpy and mean to me, and when we sat down to discuss his issues, he was really only grumpy about still being a virgin. This came from a 17 year old though, and the media paints the picture that if you don't lose your virginity come senior prom, then you must be undesirable.

This also makes me think of the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin.  I don't think the character in that movie really WANTED to be celibate, so I guess he is a good example of an Incel, because he is not terribly unattractive or anything.

I think the problem really lies in someone meeting the right person. Maybe these Incels have just never bonded with someone on that level yet. Losing one's virginity and sex in general afterwards is a very sacred and special thing. One is vulnerable in so many ways, both physically and mentally. For one thing, the other person is seeing the other completely naked, not just physically, but emotionally as well.  You have to really trust someone in order to willingly let them see you naked.

You can't (well, you can, but is it right?) just go around in bars looking for love and/or to get laid.  The other person has to be a proper match and you HAVE TO TRUST THEM.  You have to trust that they aren't going to take a picture of you and post it on the internet; you have to trust that they won't tell all of your friends about the strange mole you have on your upper back; you have to trust that the person wants you and loves you.

I think the main issue for these people (and I could be wrong) is their lack of self-acceptance and the lack of trust in people to accept them as creatures worthy of love, affection, and passion. It is human nature to want to have sex, so I refuse to believe the fact that they don't want to.

And as a final thought, I would like to remind readers of a Seinfeld episode in which George refuses to have sex.  In the time that he doesn't have sex, he finally reads books that he's been wanting to read, he learns Portuguese, he brushes up on Philosophy, etc. Basically, he was much much smarter than he was when he was having sex! And as soon as he has sex with a Portuguese waitress, he is just as dumb as before!

(Sorry, I love Seinfeld...gotta bring in a reference every now and then)