Ongoing research into involuntary celibacy

A group of researchers at Georgia State University, led by sociologist Denise Donnelly, is doing academic research on involuntary celibacy. Their first project was a questionnaire; the results of this qualitative study will guide further research.

Here are some preliminary results from the GSU questionnaire, as presented to the Southern Sociological Society's annual meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1999:

This research examines the dimensions of involuntary celibacy for single
persons (because we've had only 3 married respondents so far, we
limited our discussion to singles).  Using a convenience sample recruited
through an e-mail listserv and web page devoted to celibacy, we collected
data via e-mail questionnaires.  Interviews with 16 single persons who
desired to be sexually active but could not find a partner were included
in this analysis.  Respondents were primarily white, heterosexual males in
their mid-twenties to mid-thirties with at least some college.  They
tended to come from homes where parents showed little affection for one
another, and failed to discuss sex with their child(ren).  The majority
did not date as teens and over half were still virgins at the time of the
interview.  Sexual experiences tended to be limited to impersonal
situations or sex-for-hire, as opposed to taking place in close and
ongoing relationships.  Sex was a source of discomfort for some
respondents, and the use of pornography and masturbation to meet sexual
needs was not uncommon.  Many respondents reported poor self images, low
self-esteem and shyness, and noted that their continued celibacy caused
them to be sad and angry. Celibacy was not a choice for this group,
instead they viewed it as a burden that affected other aspects of their
lives in negative ways. Implications for further research, theory, and
practice were also discussed.

Back to Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project

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