Is this normal, or even right?

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
AltAcct4Help
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Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by AltAcct4Help »

I am a 17 year old cishet male.

When I was around 13 or so, I discovered masturbation and very quickly became addicted to it, to the point where thinking about anything else took genuine effort. All I wanted to do day in and day out was seek another climax, and I soon began to hate myself for it.
Because of those feelings, I quit masturbating. It has been over three years since the last time I have done the deed.
My question here is: should I keep doing this? With puberty hitting harder than ever, I have been more and more tempted, and I believe that I have lost multiple opportunities to relationships because of my focus on commitment and romance over sex.

I don't want to do it because, over the course of my abstinence, I have discovered some admittedly minor kinks that I have that I can't help but consider myself a degenerate (I dislike using that word, but I use it for lack of a better one) for having, and I feel that going back now would waste all the effort I've put in over the past three years.
On the other hand, I keep hearing that abstaining for so long at my age is not healthy, and if my hunch about my failed relationships is correct, then becoming more sexually active is something I should be doing.

I want to state clearly that I am not asexual, or sex-repulsed, or anything of the sort. I do want to have sex with a future girlfriend/wife, but sometimes even thinking about masturbating on my own makes me sick to my stomach.

So I ask: is this behavior normal? Is it something I should try to change? And if so, why and how?

I apologize to the staff if this isn't the sort of thing these boards are meant to be used for, but I don't know where or who else to ask for advice.

Thank you.
Urna
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by Urna »

Hello, and welcome to Scarleteen! First off, I want to let you know that this is definitely the sort of thing we're here to help you with on the boards, so you're in the right place. I'm sorry to hear that you've been having a bad time of it over the past few years, regarding masturbation and sexual activity in general.
AltAcct4Help wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:23 pm and very quickly became addicted to it, to the point where thinking about anything else took genuine effort. All I wanted to do day in and day out was seek another climax, and I soon began to hate myself for it.
I understand that you had a lot of negative feelings around being "addicted" to masturbation. Could you talk a bit more about these feelings? Was it guilt, or shame, or a feeling of loss of control and frustration that you couldn't get anything else done, or a combination of all four, or something else? You said you were 13 at the time, and had just discovered masturbation. I want to let you know that it's quite common for folks that young who are new to sexual pleasure to want to masturbate all the time: a desire that usually loses its intensity as they grow older and the novelty of it wears off, even though they may still enjoy it greatly. Overall though, sexual shame or sex-negativity, if it isn't emanating from some sort of trauma, is a product of patriarchal and sex-phobic social conditioning--you're not morally flawed for enjoying masturbation. You could have a look at this article for more detail: Undoing Sexual Shame.
AltAcct4Help wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:23 pmWith puberty hitting harder than ever, I have been more and more tempted
Could you clarify this statement, please? Did you mean that puberty is causing you to want to masturbate, or did you mean that you're feeling like you should start getting sexual, because that's what people going through puberty are assumed to be doing?
AltAcct4Help wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:23 pm I keep hearing that abstaining for so long at my age is not healthy, and if my hunch about my failed relationships is correct, then becoming more sexually active is something I should be doing. I believe that I have lost multiple opportunities to relationships because of my focus on commitment and romance over sex.
Abstaining for whatever length of time is perfectly healthy, at any age. It's absolutely fine if you don't want to have sex, for any reason, and at any point in your life, something that this article discusses: Don't Want to Have Sex?. That article also has a lot of links to related articles near the end, because this is one of the most common themes in our discussions with users; you're not alone, by any means. You shouldn't have to get sexually active and trigger your discomfort with sex to be in a happy romantic relationship, but for that to happen, you need to tell your potential partner in no uncertain terms about your discomfort with sex, and make sure that they're fully aware of and accepting of the fact that there will be no sex in the relationship. Did you communicate this to the girls you liked before you got together with them? If yes, how did they respond?
AltAcct4Help wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:23 pm
I have discovered some admittedly minor kinks that I have that I can't help but consider myself a degenerate (I dislike using that word, but I use it for lack of a better one) for having, and I feel that going back now would waste all the effort I've put in over the past three years.
Let's unpack this. Kink is not a moral issue for us here at Scarleteen, which is a kink-positive space. Your sexuality and sexual desires are not a sign of degeneracy. There are healthy, joyous, and completely safe ways to indulge in kink, both solo and with other, consenting people. This article could be useful in that regard: Working the Kinks Out. You said that it makes you "sick to your stomach" to consider masturbating, but you aren't sex-repulsed, which means that it makes you anxious to think about sex. What are you afraid will happen if you "go back", thereby "wasting all the effort"?

This may be a lot of information, so please feel free to take your time going through it and responding.
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AltAcct4Help
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by AltAcct4Help »

Thank you for your response. I will use this here to answer the questions you had and to clarify my post where needed. (I don't know how to properly quote posts here, sorry)

-" Could you talk a bit more about these feelings? Was it guilt, or shame, or a feeling of loss of control and frustration that you couldn't get anything else done, or a combination of all four, or something else?"
It was mostly a big feeling of worry. My thought process went that "Wow, if I keep this up, I'll never be able to stop for as long as I live! I need to cut it out!" with a little bit of guilt and shame sprinkled in. I'm not sure where those feelings came from, as prior to then I had never discussed sex or sexual topics of any sort with anyone.

-"Could you clarify this statement, please? Did you mean that puberty is causing you to want to masturbate, or did you mean that you're feeling like you should start getting sexual, because that's what people going through puberty are assumed to be doing?"
Both, although it hasn't come up until fairly recently. While the progression of my puberty is making me more inclined to masturbate, I also feel that having sex or being sexually active is something that I, as a 17 year old male, should be doing. It doesn't help that I despise the idea of hookups, let alone actually hooking up with anyone. This also helps me to explain that I'm not able to explain this to my parents. I'm not comfortable in the slightest with discussing sexual topics of any sort with my mother, and my father would dislike my position. He already thinks that I'm a degenerate weirdo for disliking hookups or one-night-stands, and if I told him that I have abstained from masturbation for three, almost four, years now, he would absolutely be very angry with me. Anyways, tangent over, back to it.

-"Did you communicate this to the girls you liked before you got together with them? If yes, how did they respond?"
All four of my crushes/relationship "seedlings" (again, no better term, so here we are) failed before I was able to discuss anything sexual. One ghosted me out of nowhere, one was a closeted trans male and his coming out to me instantly killed any attraction I held (Thankfully we're still very close friends), one I found out from a mutual friend that she was bisexual and had a girlfriend (she has no idea that I ever had any feelings toward her, so we're still friends), and the most recent stopped talking to me altogether because I wanted a committed relationship while she wanted some casual fling. I only bring all this up to make the point that being involved in a committed romantic relationship is simply something that, to me, must come before anything sexual happens.

-"You said that it makes you "sick to your stomach" to consider masturbating, but you aren't sex-repulsed, which means that it makes you anxious to think about sex. What are you afraid will happen if you "go back", thereby "wasting all the effort"?"
It does not make me anxious to think about having intercourse with a girl. I only dislike it when I am considering the thought of masturbation on my own and not with a partner, which is an act I consider to be sex. When I say that I'm afraid to 'go back,' what I mean is that if I begin to masturbate, I may become addicted to it as was my genuine fear when I did it for the first time, thereby rendering my nearly-four-years of abstinence pointless.

Thank you for your response, and I hope that my statements above are of some help in coming up with a reply.

Thanks again.
Emily N
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by Emily N »

Hi AltAcct4Help, thanks for sharing! I can understand the reaction to stop doing something altogether if you feel like you don’t have control over it, especially if it’s something that holds some degree of cultural shame. I agree, it’s hard to pin down where these feelings of shame come from! It could be media representations of masturbation, the way our peers talk about it (or don’t) with one another, or any other messaging we get about sex from the world.

And then it’s so frustrating that many people feel shame about talking about or enjoying masturbation, but then also feel pressure to begin engaging in sexual activities. It’s not fair that you are feeling these dual expectations, I’m sorry. Apart from feeling expectations about having sex, do you personally want to start exploring masturbation and/or partnered sex? Disliking hookups is totally fine! Many people don’t enjoy sex without emotional connection. I’m sorry your father has made you feel badly about it. If you want to talk more about your relationship talking to your parents about sex, we can do that too.

I love the term relationship “seedlings”! :D From what you described in your previous “seedlings”, it sounds like many of them didn’t work out for reasons unrelated to your “commitment to romance over sex”. And even if or when relationships don’t work out because of your priority for romance, the solution shouldn’t be that you change your priorities. You deserve to be in a relationship where your desires and needs are respected and embraced. It’s heartening to hear that you already know what you want right now out of a relationship, it’s not always easy to know!

In regards to masturbation, is this something you would like to incorporate in your life again or do you feel content not engaging in it? If it’s helpful, Scarleteen doesn’t buy into the idea of sex or masturbation addiction. (Check out these two articles for more - "worried about sexual addiction" and "are we addicted to sex".) If it’s causing intrusive thoughts or distress, then it’s definitely worth addressing those reactions, but it might not be helpful to frame masturbation or sex as the problem in and of itself, nor is the idea that you can’t enjoy these things because you might become “addicted to it”. If you want to try masturbation again, but are worried about the “out of control” feelings, maybe we can brainstorm some ideas?
AltAcct4Help
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by AltAcct4Help »

Thank you, Emily N, for your response as well.

In all honesty, I'm starting to lean towards starting it again despite knowing next to nothing about it. Not very often though, and especially not if I ever get a relationship. It just feels like I could be trying to get a partner, or generally improve myself, with the time and effort spent masturbating. I do absolutely want to explore/experience sex with a girlfriend, but to do that I need to get into a relationship with a girl, which is another problem wholly different than this.

I'm not trying to change my priorities, as appealing as it may be. I only explained my past failed relationships to make the point that talking about sex, or getting sexual, to me is just not something I can open with. It just cannot happen.

I'm apprehensive about starting to masturbate again because of those feelings, that's the thing. With puberty in full swing at my age, I doubt that I would ever be able to muster up the self-control to stop masturbating if I needed to, and if the temptation to do it was as strong or stronger than it was at age 13 when I did it for the first time, it would be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible to push it aside for even a few hours. If you'd like to throw out some ideas, you are absolutely welcome to, and I would greatly appreciate the effort.

If there is anything else you would like to know, please ask. Thank you.
Sam W
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi AltAcct4Help,

Before I jump into what you mentioned in this latest reply, I want to touch on something you said previously; that you think your father would be angry to know you've been abstaining from masturbation, and that he thinks you're a degenerate for not wanting to hook-up. Can you elaborate on what his reasoning for those belief is?

I have some thoughts on how to approach masturbation, if it's something you want to ease back into, but first I want to check; you mentioned feeling like you couldn't stop thinking about it, to the point where it was interfering with your life. Have you had that same pattern emerge with other kinds of thoughts, including around other things you find enjoyable? And when you masturbated in the past, was it always out of desire? Or did you sometimes do it because you felt you had to (like it was a compulsion)?
AltAcct4Help
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Location: United States

Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by AltAcct4Help »

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to reply.

With all due respect, I have no idea where my father is coming from. My best guess is some idea he has that a real man should be sleeping around a lot, but I truly don't know for sure.

That pattern of incredibly intrusive thoughts had only ever come up for masturbation and nothing else. I'm not inclined to say that it's a good thing if it's the only thing that could ever hook my thoughts so much, and all of it was out of desire. Until I stopped doing it, I never once felt compelled by outside forces to do it; it was all me.

I'm sorry for the long time between replies, I've been busy. To whoever responds to me next, I'll try to respond as soon as I am able. Thank you.
Sam W
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by Sam W »

Thank you for all those details, and no need to apologize; we want users to be able to respond at whatever pace works for them.

If you're thinking about easing back into masturbation, I wonder if it would help to treat it as you would any other enjoyable activity and set limits around it. For instance, we tend to set limits where we don't get to do a fun thing (like video games or t.v or reading) until we finish the things that are higher priority, like school work or chores, or we schedule in breaks where we're allowed some leisure time. What if you set limits with yourself where if you want to masturbate, you can, but only if you're finished with something you need to get done that day?
AltAcct4Help
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Location: United States

Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by AltAcct4Help »

I'm not sure if that will work. From just how intrusive those previous thoughts were, when combined with my increased sex drive at my age compared to then, leads me to believe that I simply don't have the self control to manage something like that. I really don't know what it is about masturbation that does this to me, but as I have said previously, I really can't see something that controlled my life like it has as something I should be getting back into. On the other hand, I can't help but worry if this sexual self-repression has been stunting my chances at relationships, and now I'm at a complete loss of what to do.

Again, I know you said that it's okay to take time between responses but I do feel like an apology for waiting ten days is in order. So, sorry about that.

Additionally, I'm sorry if it feels like I'm not taking in anything you're saying; this is genuinely how I feel about these things and I would not blame you if you had no experience with dealing with feelings such as these. However, I am immensely grateful for all the advice you, and the others in this thread, have given me, so thank you for that.
Sam W
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Re: Is this normal, or even right?

Unread post by Sam W »

Honestly, if you think trying to masturbate would create that level of anxiety about controlling it for you, then holding off on it is a sound choice. Too, choosing not to masturbate because the negatives outweigh the positives for you isn't really repression, no more than not wanting to engage in any particular sexual activity with another person would be. We each get to make the decisions that feel right to us when it comes to sex, including sex with ourselves.

There are also plenty of people who either can't or don't masturbate much (or at all) who are able to happily explore sexual relationships with other people. Things like communication, openness, or even more nebulous things like "chemistry" often play a way bigger role in finding satisfying sexual relationships than what your answer to the question "do you masturbate" is. Does all that make sense?
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