Tim Gunn Is Happy Celibate. Could You Be?

In his new book, Gunn’s Golden Rules, Tim Gunn reveals that he hasn’t had sex “in decades.” He remarks, I wanted to say that, whether you’re gay or straight, you can live a celibate life and be perfectly satisfied and happy.” Learning this made me unexpectedly sad.

Not because I’m a proponent of “go out, sleep with everyone on the world! Embrace your inner Samantha! Have a  sexy epileptic seizure style twitch fest in front of some fundamentalist Muslims!” I’m not. I often think of a friend who told me that when it came to sex, she really believed that “most women would rather just go out to a nice restaurant.” And in a way it’s true. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a nice restaurant,  a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than mediocre sex.

But good sex? Great sex? There’s nothing better than that.

Maybe this wouldn’t bother me if Tim Gunn just said he derived no enjoyment from sex. Then I guess I could say, “that’s cool, I’m amazed the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches haven’t taken a toll on your physique, but that’s cool.” But he says that he had a romantic relationship over 20 years ago that ended wth “a betrayal so wounding” he never risked romantic involvement again. That isn’t the same as being asexual.

I want Tim Gunn to be having great sex. He seems like he deserves it.

But I guess the real reason it makes me sad is because it makes me worry that Tim Gunn is lonely. I like to imagine him going home to some sort of Huysmans style apartment filled with impressionist paintings where he sits by a fire and sips tea and discusses his day with his handsome partner, who, say, runs fundraising for the Metropolitan Opera. I want to believe that they chuckle warmly over smart-people inside jokes, and bicker over the proper way to load the dishwasher, and have a great sex life that they don’t talk about publicly, because it’s private.

But maybe I’m at fault for thinking that a lack of sex connotes a lack of intimacy. Because a lot of the people who I love the most, who have been in my life the longest, aren’t people I’ve had sex with. Does it really matter whether Tim has sex or not? He’s Tim Gunn. He’s ridiculously beloved because he’s ridiculously cool. I’m sure he has a very lovely life. Maybe good friends and work that you love, maybe that’s enough. But somehow, I can’t help but feel that it’s just not quite enough.

- Gunn’s Blazing – New York Daily News

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    • Chickalupe

      Entirely by accident, I’ve been celibate for about two years now. It’s been a weird confluence of events; mostly because of just getting out of a long-term relationship, when I wasn’t interested in dating at all. It is kind of a helpful thing to tell unwanted admirers, though. If I get hit on by someone creepy, I just tell them; “Sorry, I’m celibate,” and I’m not being dishonest!

    • arhakim

      Hi-larious. Love it.

    • b

      I found that his view on celibacy to be super-refreshing. i consider myself to be a sex-positive/non-religious person, but i also think that there’s way too much emphasis & pressure put on people to have romantic &/or sexual relationships.
      People can be celibate for short or long periods of time for a lot of reasons – religious affliation, waiting for a serious relationship to come along, sti infection, heart break, you name it.
      Sex can be great – but abstaining from sex for a while can be great too – it can help you to focus on other parts of your life.
      i’ve been celibate for the past year and it’s help me realize that as a woman i think i’ve placed too much emphasis on my sexuality in terms of my self worth in the past. Being by myself has helped me put my life (career, friends, goals, you name it) in perspective – and I think it’s made my life richer in the long run.
      Anyway – I love Tim Gunn – sex or no sex.

    • You…Me…Us..x

      I was celibate for 7 years after a break-up from my son’s father. I wanted to concentrate on being a mother without any emotional trauma so I could be simple and happy. It was more 6 years and 360 days actually i think from the day i concieved on the 3rd August 2003 to “the” day 15 august 2010, you’ll have to do the math!

      I’ve met an amazing man , the kind of man a woman would dream, he has morals, principles, he’s respectful and respected, he’s sexy, he’s caring and sincere that’s what first attracted me to him, his genuine sincerity. I love him – Good thing’s come to those who wait….7 years! He’s all I’ve ever wanted in a partner! He’s 23 & I’m 27 and have a 6 year old son.

      I am so grateful to God!

    • Catherine

      I actually believe that celibacy can be a powerful choice if you really choose it – but to avoid sex because you won’t take emotional risks is not healthy. Emotional risks are something that we all need to take in order to move forward and grow. I agree that this is just sad.

    • john

      What makes me sad is how arrogant you seem

    • Helen

      “Quite enough” has different definitions for different people. You and Tim listened to different music, read different books, were friends with different friends. I suspect that you both have different threshold of sensitivity. He is an introvert, you seem like an extravert. And ,definitely, he doesn’t feel himself inferior in life not having a sex( in contrast to you). Please don’t regret of somebody else’s life, don’t invent, interpret and discuss somebody’s private choice, just create your own life and enjoy a Harmony!

    • Janes

      Like an earlier poster, I was celibate for 7 years and then became intimately involved with a 41-year-old man who claimed to be very attentive in the bedroom, only to discover he was the WORST lover ever. Mostly because he had ZERO interest in understanding a woman’s body. It was disappointing…the relationship and the sex…after waiting so long for the right thing to come along. I’ve been with 10 men in my life, and 9 were terrible in bed. I would rather be happily single and celibate than settle again…and Tim Gunn’s brave disclosure made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this world. I think he made a lot of people feel that way. It makes me sad that people equate celibacy with loneliness.

      • Janes

        And to clarify, they were terrible in bed only because they didn’t understand, or care to understand, the female body…and I didn’t have the kind of emotional intimacy that made it comfortable to talk to them about it. In that instance, physical intimacy meant nothing without the emotional intimacy to back it up.

    • Arsepolitico
    • Elle Lu

      I think these comments are the “weird confluence of events.” What are we turning into? Public displays of wayyyyy toooo much, imo. Can’t we just comment on an article, for god’s sake?

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    • The Fuddler

      I’m thinking that among whatever else prevents Mr. Gunn from pursuing a sexual relationship might be that ol’ 1980′s debbil’, afrAIDS.

      AIDS paranoia seems to have slackened a lot over the last 25 years or so (there’s still no cure but at least there are treatments that actually stop or reverse the disease’s progression). But I know people who are most certainly sexually-active who won’t go near a prospective partner unless he or she has had a recent battery of STI tests and paperwork in hand to bear out freedom from infection. I can imagine someone in the main target demographic of the old AIDS epidemic might be doubly paranoid.

      But let’s say Mr. Gunn has hung his guns up because of a particularly nasty betrayal. I have a friend who was in a relationship with a married woman. Bad idea, especially considering the predictable outcome. She said she’d leave her hubby for him but did just the opposite. To my knowledge he isn’t gay, and he hasn’t been in a sexual relationship with a woman in almost 15 years.

      Should we consider betrayal an STI, and what’s the best course of treatment (and it ain’t just pills)?

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