DEAR DEIDRE: THE fantasies I have about a woman from my past make me question my vow of celibacy. I’m a 37-year-old Catholic priest and mad
DEAR DEIDRE: THE fantasies I have about a woman from my past make me question my vow of celibacy.
I’m a 37-year-old Catholic priest and made a commitment to God that includes staying single and not having sex. It’s my vocation — I love the work.
Before going into the priesthood I studied law at university.
I became close friends with a 19-year-old woman on one of my courses. She knew I had strong religious convictions and that I was considering becoming a priest so she knew our relationship couldn’t go any further.
One night, there was a party and she got very drunk. When I walked her back to her hall of residence, she kissed me and I got very aroused.
It went no further and after that our friendship waned. She was embarrassed and I felt awkward. But 17 years later, I still find myself fantasising about that sexual encounter and that woman.
I often masturbate thinking about her. Sometimes I feel lonely and long for intimacy. I wonder if I have missed out on something fundamental in life.
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I think back to that night as a missed chance. Although I have been attracted to other women over the years, I have never been in another situation where something could have happened.
These feelings should be well behind me, yet my sexual urges are growing stronger. Is this some sort of mid-life crisis?
How can I forget this woman and control my sexual desires?
I don’t doubt my faith at all but I am beginning to question whether celibacy is for me — whether it’s healthy and natural.
If something had happened that night, would I have changed my mind about being a priest? Or would I have got this sexual curiosity out of my system? I’m so confused.
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DEIDRE SAYS: You are human. Taking a vow of celibacy does not stop your sexual urges and it is normal that you have desires and need to masturbate.
It releases pent-up energy and feel-good hormones, which are good for you. My support pack on masturbation might reassure you.
As for the girl who came on to you, you are not doing anything wrong by thinking about her and it is natural your mind reverts to the only sexual near-encounter of your life.
You are not really fantasising about her – a woman who would now be in her mid-thirties – but about what she represents.
Humans are social animals and it sounds like you crave intimacy and love. You have had to sacrifice both for your job.
Ask yourself if it is time for a change in your life. You have matured since taking those vows and your feelings and needs will have changed too.
Perhaps the priesthood, or at least the Catholic priesthood – which forbids romantic and sexual relationships – no longer fulfils you.
Some counselling would really help you to work through your feelings in confidence.
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