Peter Lynagh, 34, spent his adolescence and adulthood trying to sleep with as many women as possible. It was good fun. But by age 32, the Melbourne, Australia–based video producer, who says he’s slept with “hundreds” of women, was tired. He made a bet with his roommate and pub partner in crime that he could give up sex for a year. To make it stick, he devoted his effort in self-control to Free to Shine, a non-profit that aims to prevent the sex trafficking of girls in Cambodia. So far, he’s raised upwards of $60,000.
FLARE talks to Lynagh about his playboy past, what he learned about himself, and whether he’d do it again.
Why give up sex for a year?
I just got to the stage where it wasn’t sitting well with me, sleeping around and partying and drinking. I think it was just getting to the stage of growing up, to be brutally honest. I was 32 and really probably ready to settle down and find someone and stop acting the maggot.
Was there an incident that made you want to stop sleeping around?
There was no incident…Marty and I were counting how many women we slept with and trying to outdo each other…that’s how shallow we were.
What number were you at when you decided to stop?
In that year? I wouldn’t know in total…I think it was around 25 or 30. That was a pretty quiet year. Actually, that’s my ego talking!
How many women have you been with in your 34 years?
I haven’t a clue. I wouldn’t even attempt to count.
Would you say hundreds?
I’m not really…yeah, hundreds.
What age did you start having sex?
Sixteen. I used to joke with people who said, “Oh, a year is nothing. I went four years.” I would joke and say, “I went 16 years once!”
How long had you gone without sex before your sabbatical?
Probably three months. But it was a need—that’s what I’ve learned in the year…I discovered a lot about myself. I had to confront some demons from the past and work through a lot of stuff and build that relationship with myself so I could be on my own and not have that need for female attention—for external validation. That’s probably what I spent the last nine months of the year doing. It was hard but the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.
How hard was it to give up sex? What was the biggest challenge?
Just being on my own, without texting or getting that external validation.
Did you have to change how you talked to women?
Yes, I had to connect with their minds and not just go for looks and try to get them into bed…I was a dick before. I was pretty shallow. I was more about looks and bodies.
How did you get women to go to bed with you when you were a player?
Just get them laughing. Have fun. The accent [he’s originally from Northern Ireland] worked well over here.
What did you learn about sex during your year off?
I definitely noticed that I had a fantasy about sex and it wasn’t really making love. It was more just f–king, if that makes sense. I think there’s a time and place for both, but I don’t think I’d ever actually made love.
Your year of celibacy ended on January 1, 2014. How did you celebrate?
I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. There was a lot of hype around it and I wasn’t buying into it. I had dinner with the boys.
When was the first time you had sex again?
Probably January 4. It was with a girl I had connected with during my year of chastity, but I purposely didn’t meet up with her, because she was stunning…We caught up, had dinner and hung out. We had a walk on the beach, and it was so romantic. Then we went back to her joint and she had like a four-poster bed…It was like some kind of retreat. It was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Are you seeing anyone now?
I just started dating someone. It’s just early days and it’s going really well.
How has your year off changed your approach to dating?
Now, I want a relationship. I’m dating more for personality, more for conversation, and that deeper connection. And then the sex will be the bonus, where before it was all about sex.
Would you do it again?
I’ve no need to do it again. I’ve learned what I learned from that experience. But I’d be keen to do something else, though I don’t know if I could top not having sex for a year.