Hephzibah Anderson is an attractive, successful British journalist in her early 30s who enjoys a life of jet-setting between London, New York, and Paris. And after ringing in her 30th birthday, she swore off sex for a year.
Fed up with the "kind of sex I was supposed to be cool with as a postfeminist, twenty-first century Western woman—a casual sort of intimacy without intimacy," Anderson decided to take on a vow of chastity in an effort to make sense of what was missing in the dating mishaps of her 20s. The year-long journey Anderson embarked on became about uncovering the sets of rules, expectations and assumptions that she—and many women—often create for themselves in dating.
Anderson's new book, Chastened, chronicles the ups and downs of her year without sex. Here, she discusses why sex changes relationships, the challenges (and benefits) of delaying physical intimacy, and whether her experiment brought the revelation she was looking for.
Just to give our readers some quick background of the book, could you talk about how you decided to take on this year of chastity and what you hoped to find out?
Well, it's interesting. I would say that if I had known that I would write a book about it, I would've gone about it in a much more organized way. But because it was something I was doing for completely personal reasons, at least at the start, it was a decision I really felt I had to make. The real reasons for why I made it became more apparent as the year progressed, in an odd way. There are essentially three things that caused the decision.