Advice to those wanting to stop masturbating

If you are struggling with pornography addiction and are in the process of quitting you most likely are also struggling with masturbation.  If you would also like to quit masturbating, take heart — it can be done!  I’m not here to tell you that you should — that’s a decision for you to make, not me.  However, I will say that when you consider the root of any addiction is selfishness, I find it hard to imagine someone being successful at eliminating their selfish behaviors if they are masturbating — especially if it is combined with sexual fantasy.  In any case, if you’re interested here is what worked for me, some advice I received from my bishop, and additional tips I found on the web (as well as links to those websites for more info).

When I first came across pornography at 10 years old I immediately started masturbating — without even knowing what it was or what I was doing.  I brought this up to my therapist and he said that was totally normal.  My church teaches that we should learn self-mastery and not perform masturbation as it is an act of the “natural man” but I liked it and it was comforting at night before I would go to bed so I didn’t put much effort into stopping.  When I turned 16 and started dating it occurred to me that continuing to masturbate and to have frequent sexual fantasies was not a healthy combination with trying to have a real relationship with an actual person and so I finally had a desire to stop that was beyond just, “You shouldn’t do it.”  That was when I took it seriously.  It was also when I realized it was a lot harder than I thought.  It took me almost two years but I eventually was able to stop.

What worked for me:

  • I had to learn to stop having sexual fantasies — even the simplest of ones like imagining that I was kissing a girl that I had a crush on.  Any fantasy thoughts at all would trigger a sexual hormonal response and lead to masturbation.
  • I could not “partially” masturbate.  I think I did that to convince myself that not climaxing was not masturbating.  But it didn’t do anything to help me stop.
  • Complete abstinence was the key.
  • Do NOT touch your genitals if you can help it.  When you have to wash, be as quick and non-touching as possible.  When you use the restroom, try your best to not touch yourself.  Be specific and focused about not doing it.
  • When I got an erection (which is often for teenage boys and 100% medically normal), if I was alone I would stand up and recite a song from memory until the erection went away.  This would happen many times in the evening and would get frustrating, but it finally worked.  If I was with other people I would simply stay where I was and recite my song in my head until it went away.  Let’s just say I’ll never forget all three versus of that song — ever!
  • Take a cold shower.  Seriously.  It really works and it is healthy in other ways too. No more 20 minute hot showers.  I’ve had a couple of people who have told me that they tried this and it was just too hard.  My response is, “Man up and do it anyway!”  Honestly, if you really want to stop masturbating, half-hearted attempts will not work — at all.
  • Be very aware of the times that you have masturbated in the past.  Make a plan to avoid touching yourself, having fantasies, etc during those times.  Do not use a computer or mobile device during these times.  Try to not be alone.  Do not be bored.
  • Stay away from pornography.  If you still struggle with pornography, seek help (see my page on recovery tools).
  • Focus on doing other activities (the worst thing you can do is focus on the thing you’re trying to stop — so focus on something else to replace it with).  Try a new hobby or activity like reading, drawing, painting, music, exercise, writing, biking, etc.  The more you replace the activity you’re wanting to avoid with something you want to do, the more likely you are to stop doing the old activity.
  • Make a calendar and mark the days you win.  Set a goal for 1 day past your average length of abstinence.  Then longer, and longer, until you’re going for months and eventually you are done.
  • Please Note:  If you are married or otherwise sexually active, replacing masturbation with sex with a partner will not help you.  I’ve read books that suggest you should let your wife/partner know you will “need” them more, but in my experience you’re just using them as your masturbation device.  And eventually they will simply feel “used”.  Trust me when I say that is NOT a good thing for a relationship.  You may even want to consider abstaining from all sexual activity for 30-90 days.  Talk it over with your spouse/partner and/or therapist if you have one.  (PS.  If reading this one made you freak out inside, then you REALLY should consider following this suggestion.)

 

Here are some other ideas from websites that had good advice for helping you learn to stop masturbating (yes, some are repeats of what I said above — I’d like to think that means they are really good ideas!):

  • http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-a-Masturbation-Addiction
    • Stay busy and focused
    • Take a cold shower
    • Make a plan to avoid your normal “go-to” time of the day
    • Limit being alone
    • Stay away from pornography
    • Be persistent and patient
    • Don’t punish yourself
    • Know it will get better
    • Get professional help if you need it
  • http://www.howtostopmasturbation.com/
    • Go to bed early and get lots of sleep
    • Eat plenty of healthy carbs and drink lots of water
    • Exercise
    • Develop your brain
    • Fasting (not eating food for 2 meals one day a week)
    • Pray
    • Don’t focus on fighting masturbating
    • Forgive yourself
    • Forgive others
    • Say no to others (when they lead you to do things that violate the tips above)
    • Write in a daily gratitude journal (or just record the interesting events of your day)
    • Meditate — spend time thinking of very little (go for a walk and just look at the colors or listen to the sounds, try yoga, etc)
    • Don’t give up!
  • http://www.md-health.com/How-To-Stop-Masterburate.html
    • Stop feeling guilty (think of masturbating as if you were still sucking a pacifier at night — you’d want to stop and it would take some work to overcome it, but you shouldn’t hate yourself for it while you fight it).
    • Get rid of any of your enablers
    • Be more social — the more you’re with others, the better off you’ll be
    • Find a new hobby — especially one that might serve others or involve others
    • Be patient with yourself
    • Find someone trustworthy that you can confide in and ask for support (a parent or a friend)

 

Again, try to think of masturbation as something that you’ve done for years as a way to comfort yourself and because it feels good.  So does a pacifier or sucking your thumb.  But I’m guessing most of us that used to do that don’t do it anymore.  It was hard to stop (ask your parents about that if you can’t remember), but eventually you overcame it.  And remember — you didn’t hate yourself or blame yourself in the process.  You just got annoyed, and slipped up from time to time, but eventually you overcame it and moved on with life.  This should be the same kind of experience for you.  It will be hard at times, you will slip up at times — but be patient and forgiving of yourself.  The more you focus on the positive and replace it with other better activities, the sooner you’ll accomplish your goal!

Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them or find the answers if I don’t have them.  Best of luck!  You can totally do this 🙂

My name is Mike

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