5 tips to help you diminish compulsive masturbating
Kevin, worried about his masturbation habit, paused before answering my question: "Why do you feel it's a problem?" (After all, according to reports, most men and women indulge [or have indulged] in masturbation sometimes. (1))
"It feels compulsive now," he told me. "It's worse when I'm stressed and I've even started doing it in the restroom at work! It's as if I can't have an erotic thought or even a stressful situation without feeling I have to go masturbate!"
Rather hoping he wasn't having an erotic thought or feeling too stressed, I considered how attitudes to masturbation have changed.
It used to be felt that masturbation was a 'sin' that could cause blindness, stunted growth, hairy palms, and even insanity. Masturbation was thought to drain energy, make people listless and lazy. Sexually stimulating yourself was much more taboo than it is now.
In Victorian England there were even devices which would apply electric shocks to the penis if the unfortunate wearer were to stimulate himself. This device would then sound alarm bells to bring attention to the 'despicable act' being committed. (I'm not sure what would have been worse: the electric shock or the embarrassment!)
Masturbation is no longer regarded as an "unholy act of self defile". But for some, masturbation starts to feel out of control, disrupting normal activities.
"Am I crazy?" asked Kevin. "I mean, that's what mental patients do, isn't it? Abuse themselves all the time?"
Actually, no mental or physical health problems have been discovered as connected to frequent masturbation (apart from the obvious risk of soreness). And, as far as I know, there is no research conclusively showing that very frequent masturbation is a sign of any mental or physical disorder (although bi-polar patients may masturbate more during a 'manic' phase). I reassured Kevin he wasn't 'nuts'.
I suggested that over-indulging may indicate a need to:
- Relieve boredom
- Relieve feelings of physical and mental stress and tension (orgasm is a relaxant)
- Relieve other pent-up emotions (such as sexual desire for a particular person)
Kevin was relieved (proving that he could feel better without his old 'prop') and started to recognize why his masturbation had got 'out of hand', so to speak. Which links nicely to our first masturbation control tip:
1) Overcome masturbation addiction by knowing yourself
A constant need to masturbate may represent a lack of physical intimacy or affection in one's life. So rather than addressing the masturbation itself, it may be helpful, as is the case with any 'nervous habit', to explore the areas in life that are lacking (of which excessive masturbation may be a symptom) and address these areas. We all have basic needs for:
- Safety and security in life
- The chance to give and receive quality attention
- Feeling connected to a community
- Feeling status and a sense of achievement
- Having purpose and goals
- Feeling intimate with another human being
- Feeling challenged so as to avoid boredom.
Meeting these needs in your life helps you avoid boredom and a sense of meaninglessness.
Of course, masturbation only provides a temporary 'fix' or escape. To really make your life more fulfilling, you need to address your real needs.
Take a long look at your life. Are some of the above needs not being met adequately? Could excessive masturbation be masking an unmet need?
Kevin felt lonely, stressed at work, bored, and was hardly ever exercising. When we began to address these issues, he naturally began to masturbate much less. As his social life improved, he literally had less time to masturbate.
2) Take steps to deal with the habit itself
People often say (very sagely): "We must overcome the real reasons – the root of the problem – before the problem itself can be cured." But, of course, human behaviour and psychology is a system. And if you change one part of the system, other parts will also inevitably change.
For example, if someone is masturbating excessively then this means they have less time to devote, say, to their social life. But if they begin to masturbate less, they have more time (and possibly more confidence as they appreciate their new self-mastery) to spend on connecting to other people.
You need to take a two-pronged approach. Certainly look at the unmet needs in your life (that masturbation has possibly been trying ineffectively to meet for you), but also look at diminishing the actual behaviour itself more directly.
So what practical steps can you take to start masturbating less?
3) Don't be 'all or nothing' about it
You don't have to 'cure masturbation', as some may even be healthy, but if you feel it takes up way too much of your time and focus then consciously start to set limits.
If you currently masturbate every day, then start cutting down by a day per fortnight. Literally begin to wean yourself from daily masturbation. Tell yourself: "Right, this week I am going to have a day off on Wednesday" (or whatever day you choose) and stick to it. Use this day or evening actively trying to meet a basic need that may have been neglected (i.e. phone a friend and make plans).
Notice what you do instead. But make that promise to yourself and no matter what that little part of your brain does to try to get you doing it – don't! After two weeks, add another day off. Continue to do this until you are down to a level with which you feel comfortable.
If you break your own rules, then 'make up the day' by choosing another day of the week, but focus on the numbers. And don't masturbate twice on one day because you missed it on another. Talking of numbers: there are only a certain number of hours in the day...
4) Stay busy; the devil makes work for idle hands
Unless we are truly deranged, we need private opportunity to masturbate. Fill your time with situations in which masturbation would end up as local newspaper material. Book up to see friends, go to church, ski, or visit the local library.
Teach your body not to expect masturbation so often. It will get the message and, sooner than you think, it will feel more normal to do it less. Actively taking steps to fill up your time may also be a way of diminishing boredom or loneliness, which may have been contributing factors to the excessive masturbation in the first place.
5) Use your brain constructively
New behaviours can be fixed in place by strongly imagining them ahead of time. Work out 'danger times' – times when you would have been more likely to masturbate (on the bus, at choir practice – I'm kidding!). Now close your eyes and visualize yourself looking as if you might masturbate, then determinedly choosing to do something else instead.
Observe yourself spending your evening differently. Imagine the feeling of wonderful and powerful self-control and really focus on that sensation of autonomy. Practice starting to respond to the old 'masturbation triggers', then snapping out if it and feeling liberated. Or let me do it for you (the visualization!!) by clicking on the free audio link below.
Some masturbation can be healthy and harmless, but as the expression has it: "The greatest pleasure in life is self-control."