Problem: ‘I know we’re all supposed to masturbate these days, and that’s all part of a free and healthy sex life. Well, I do – I feel compelled to; it’s a habit – and where I go in my head when I masturbate, I do not want to describe, but I go there, and afterwards I feel soiled, drained, ashamed, and physically depleted. Is this just me or is this a general thing? Have I just not got a proper handle on this, or is everyone pretending, when they know it’s wrong? By the way, I’m a (single) man.’
The Lovers’ Guide responds:
It does sound rather as if your sexual and emotional needs are not being met. If you are masturbating because you are not in a relationship and not having sex, perhaps because you can’t seem to find a partner, then it may be worth recognising your need for love and real emotional fulfilment. Perhaps it’s time to put yourself out there, or try looking for love online. It could be that masturbating is reminding you of what you don’t have and do really want. The knowledge after you’ve come that your thoughts have been make-believe could hurt if you’ve grown to be despondent about your love life. It is important for all of us not to think of masturbation as a sign of failure.
Don’t worry so much about your thoughts as you masturbate. Nobody’s judging, nobody real got hurt, and your thoughts, your fantasies, could well be expressing something important about you, about your sexual needs. That said, it might be that your fantasies are becoming extreme and disturbing because you’ve got yourself a bit bogged down in yourself. Perhaps there are broader issues in life that need addressing. Are you generally happy? Is life going well for you? Perhaps your unpleasant fantasies are a sign of frustration and you need some other aspect of your life to change.
You mention that your masturbating is compulsive behaviour, and that you know before you begin to masturbate that it is not going to leave you feeling good. One thing you can try is to change the way you masturbate. Try saving it up, and making it more of a sensual treat – Put the focus more on sensual pleasure rather than on thoughts you would rather not have. Lie back, use some lube, and put some music on. Go slowly and build sensation. Touch yourself all over your torso and around your groin. Try slipping a lubricated finger or even a toy into your anus. Build to a decent orgasm that might leave you on a high, rather than feeling spent.
It is worth asking as well how your health is generally. Are you eating healthily? Are you getting some exercise? Are you drinking too much? It is often said that single men can tend to brood and slip into unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Alternatively, perhaps there are medical issues that you need to see a doctor about, or perhaps existing medication is affecting you. It could be that you are driven to using extreme and unpleasant thoughts and fantasies because of difficulties becoming and staying aroused, as a symptom of less than optimal health.
Finally, we might ask if there is a religious dimension to this. Have you ever been taught that masturbation is wrong? Even if this was a long time ago, such negative thoughts about masturbation can linger. Do you, does any part of you, regard masturbation as inherently sinful? It is for you to decide if you would rather adhere to such dictates, or if you would rather let them go. We would, of course, suggest the latter.