Can You Be Addicted to Masturbation?

I’m Alexander Cheves, a writer, author, and sex educator. My nickname is Beastly. I give adult advice on this blog — no question is off-limits. To ask me something, email AskBeastly@gmail.com or send a message via the Ask Beastly contact form.

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It is such a respite to finally find someone online who is a sex positive and kink positive expert for the queer community.

I’m a 26 year old gay man living in Mumbai, India. My pronouns are He/Him/His. I’m a kinkster and enjoy playing a dominant master’s role.

Since India is still a homophobic country and isn’t open about discussing sex let alone kinks, I discovered about BDSM through porn and online random chatrooms. I started having cam sex and voice sex with random strangers online. After a point when I was done with my studies and started working, I became addicted to it.

I realised this quite late because through my college days I used to not visit the chatrooms and porn sites so often. Why I’m telling you this is because knowingly or unknowingly to stay longer on the cam and chat with more people I used to prolong my ejaculation. This lead to a habit of edging.

I realised this late when I started having withdrawal symptoms. I used to edge for hours while talking to random people on cam or voice chat. I would feel completely dry and empty but totally relaxed after having edged.

Now I feel a certain kind of pain in the right side of my brain because I’ve slowly brought the frequency of edging down to once in months. Also my sleeping pattern is disturbed because I used to do this in the middle of the night while having to go to work next working.

Could you please tell me if there are any unhealthy effects of edging if the person does it for too long. And what are your opinions on edging. Any suggestions on foods & supplements which are good for recovery.

Hi my friend,

It’s concerning to me that healthy people like yourself believe you are “addicted” to what is normal human sexual behavior — but you’re not the only one. I’ve included another question below from someone who feels that they, too, are addicted to masturbation.

All over the world, people pathologize sex. If you do something “too much” or enjoy something “strange,” there must be something wrong with you, or so thinking goes.

The “completely dry” feeling of release you feel after edging is what many people all over the world feel after delayed orgasm. You’re not addicted. You’re normal.

You’ve acknowledged that edging seems to have caused some sleep issues (as will any activity you enjoy at night). You’re not having “withdrawal symptoms” and you don’t need to be in recovery. Sexual compulsions do exist, but if you were exhibiting truly compulsive behavior, you would not be able to decrease your edging sessions — which are not a bad “habit” but a normal sexual practice that many people enjoy — to “once in months.” That’s impressive restraint from someone who allegedly has a harmful sexual compulsion.

Mild sexual compulsions can impact one’s work and relationships and severe ones can lead to arrests and require professional help. They are rarely self-manageable, and you’ve managed yours. If I were a professional therapist, I would consider the “compulsion threshold” — the boundary line between harmless kinks and fetishes and harmful behavior — to be very, very high. The problem with that threshold is that it’s incredibly subjective, as it relies on cultural norms to exist. Normative, heterocentric views tend to pathologize non-normative, queer sexual behaviors as “sicknesses,” and this has led to a global fascination with things like “sex addiction” (if it’s not clear, I think sex addiction is mostly bullshit). If I were a therapist — and I might be one someday — I would work hard to combat this tendency to label anything atypical as “harmful,” and many therapists all over the world are doing just that. If I were a therapist, I would say that you’re a healthy person who enjoys edging. Keep enjoying it and try not to edge at night when you have to go to work the next day.

“Edging,” for readers, is the practice of delaying one’s orgasm, either in solo masturbation or by someone else. You go to the “edge” of orgasm then abruptly halt, extending your pleasure buildup for longer periods of time before finally reaching orgasm. Edging for, say, an hour can make you cum harder when you finally do orgasm, but after a certain point it becomes torturous, and therefore edging has become a popular BDSM practice. Guys into edging as a fetish generally like to be tied up or otherwise restrained and edged for several hours, at which point the edging becomes intense and actually somewhat painful — and the orgasms, if they’re given at all, are merciful release.

As long as you’re able to manage your life — your job or school, your relationships, your responsibilities — and recognize when staying up late impacts your sleep, you’re not doing anything harmful. Enjoy edging! It feels good and it’s fun.

Seeking pleasure, even at the expense of some sleep, is not unhealthy. Perfectly healthy people sometimes go to all-night sex parties or spend weekends getting fucked up in dance clubs and have to spend a few days recovering (you folks in your early twenties will soon know what I’m talking about). These behaviors probably impact work performance more than camming and edging, yet it would be ridiculous to say that everyone who enjoys a fun sex night is pathologically addicted to something.

People need pleasure. We need coping mechanisms to deal with life’s stresses. Orgasm, edging, toys, sex, kink — all these are good, healthy tools we have to make life better. Thanks to conservative religion and social norms designed to police women and oppress people who aren’t white or straight, most of the world sees these activities as taboo, unethical, or indicative of mental illness — and this is the intended effect of sex policing.

A good system is self-enforcing, and sex-policing is a good system. If you teach a person shame, they, in turn, will teach their children shame, and their children will teach other children shame, and so on. Ideas spread faster than any virus and are far more deadly. If you were to invent a religion, say, that decreed all sex outside of marriage as sinful, then voila! You’ve found a way to police and criminalize human behaviors that we’ve enjoyed since before we started walking on two legs. In time, that ridiculous belief will become a mass delusion in which straight, married sex is permissible and queer, kinky, adventurous, orgiastic sex is associated with evil and illness. Masturbation is considered by many ultra-conservative religions to be an egregious sin, so imagine what those people would make of camming and edging, which is masturbation on steroids. Add some fun drugs to the mix and you’re likely to be branded a sex addict. And that’s the world we live in.

You’re allowed to really like masturbation. You’re even allowed to stay up late sometimes because you’re having fun. As long as you manage your life and do not masturbate in front of someone without their consent, you can masturbate as much — or as long — as you want to.

Love, Beastly

I’m in the closet since I was 13 when I started to realize that men attract me sexually. Until now, the only thing that connects me with my repressed sexuality is masturbating.

Problem is I’m addicted to it. I masturbate at least once a day. I used to masturbate for five times in a row. I do it because I’m bored and I feel really toxic about it. 

Actually, I’m struggling with myself in general so I have plenty of free time doing nothing when mostly I watch porn. 

I masturbate even though I’m not horny. I hate it because it has become so mechanical to me. Also, I don’t enjoy masturbating like I used to because I have started to hate my body and I consider masturbation as connecting with it. Although muscular guys in porn attract me so much, I feel very discouraged because I don’t look like them.

Hope you’ll give me some advice how to accept masturbating as sexually pleasurable experience with yourself and your body. 

Hi comrade,

Most gay men I know masturbate at least once a day. You’re not addicted — you’re a normal human exhibiting normal behaviors. Your masturbation ritual is fine, and I think most adults would describe their masturbation rituals similarly. The only thing that isn’t fine are your feelings about your body.

I wish I could masturbate five times in a row! But I can sometimes go three times in a row when I’m feeling really horny. Am I addicted? Is five times an addiction but three times permissible? Where does one draw the line?

There is no line. There is no standard to measure yourself against. Do what feels good for you. When I masturbate three times in a row, it’s because I’m horny and bored. And you are too.

In my boredom, I often watch porn. A lot of people do. (I’ll wager that most people with internet access watch porn in their idle time.) Most people masturbate mechanically because it is, in fact, a ritual — just part of one’s routine. I’m not necessarily horny when I jack off in the shower before bed, but I do it because that’s when I do it. It’s my ritual. I’ve jacked off in the shower before bed a few times a week since I was fourteen years old.

The bigger issue here is the fact that you hate your body. I’ll tell you what I think is going on. I think you’re dealing with guilt, internalized homophobia, and insecurity. You feel ashamed or embarrassed over what you’re masturbating to and it sounds like you are unhealthily comparing your body to the men you see in porn.

I recommend talking to a sex-positive, LGBT-friendly therapist or counselor about these feelings. And if you can’t find one, do the next best thing, which is my recommended way to beat internalized homophobia: surround yourself with queer people. Connect to them in any way possible. Isolation is your enemy.

These feelings of shame and self-loathing have made you assign yourself an invented addiction. My boyfriend masturbates up to three times a day — he at least does it twice a day, every day. I know guys who masturbate more than that. Your behavioral pattern sounds perfectly normal, yet you believe you’re sick. That’s the homophobia of the world infecting your self-image. Don’t let it do that.

It’s normal to feel like masturbation is the only thing connecting you to your sexuality. For most of my formative years when my sexuality was emerging, before I became sexually active with other people, masturbation was the only thing that connected me to my sexuality. When our sexual selves are in development (and there’s a good argument to be made that they are always in development), most people depend on masturbation. It’s your pleasure gateway. For most people, it’s the first sexual engagement (we generally start touching ourselves years before we ever touch someone else). For most people, masturbation is the oldest sexual ritual we have, and it’s certainly the most reliable one. NO matter what happens, you always have your hand, your imagination, and some spit (or, even better, some lube or lotion). It’s normal to make masturbation an established — even mechanical — part of your daily routine.

You’re allowed to masturbate as much as you like, so long as you don’t do it in front of other people without their consent or in places where masturbation is not appropriate, or so frequently that you are unable to carry out your responsibilities. Every person I know who masturbates at least once a day has a job and tends to various relationships, so daily masturbation is not enough to derail someone’s life.

Self-pleasure is good for you, and when you invest some time and attention into yourself, you might find that it can empower you, too. It can make you feel better about your body, your looks, your identity, your confidence. When I masturbate from riding a big dildo or edge for a little bit and have a really hard, intense orgasm, I feel like a sexual god — a powerful creature, thrashing in the shower or the bed in the throes of my own self-induced euphoria. Recognize the power in being able to make yourself cum.

If anyone tells you that porn or masturbation are bad things, they’re trying to pass off their personal beliefs as truth, and you should consider them dangerous false prophets, miscreants, the lost. You can’t help them and they certainly can’t help you. Disregard everything they say.

Find an LGBT-friendly therapist (everyone needs one) and/or gay friends. Go.

Love, Beastly

1 Comment

  1. Wow! Another awesome article! I don’t know how old this guy is. But if he’s still a young guy, beating off daily and multiple times is sooo normal. As you say, sometimes it’s cause you want to, Like after school because in gym there’s the hot guy that knows you watch him undress in the locker room. That was me and it was the first thing I’d do when I got home. And yes other times you do it to do it!

    I so appreciate the information you put out here. Like the bills passing right under our eyes. I will definitely subscribe, I’m all for supporting you.
    I’m interested in finding a massage with benefits and your articles really help in saying that thats ok.

    Thank you so much, my man!

    Like

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