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The Strange Marriage of Masturbation and Porn

Though, unsettling, porn and masturbation demand a trial separation. We believe there are solo sexual aspirations forgotten, emotions yet unfelt.

Sean Christopher

“What the hell! Porn and masturbation go together like peanut butter and jelly!” I get the same jovial pushback in every Masturbation Masterclass or any forum where I introduce the overlooked treasures of independent solo sexual activities like porn and masturbation.

My students, as do a lot of folk with penises and possibly you, see this union as nearly obligatory. Masturbation, in their experience, just doesn’t work without porn and porn is pointless without masturbation. This is an important predicament and a portal to new sexual shores.

To be honest, I know that when I raise this topic, the energy in the room rises. You can feel it in your neck. I’m scaring the shit out of these guys. They think I’m out of my mind to suggest masturbation dissociated from porn or porn appreciated as an artform free from noisy masturbatory distraction. I know the discomfort of the idea well. I also know that discomfort is where growth is always concealed.

And discomfort is why I assign a Bootcamp-worthy masturbation regimen to my clients from our very first meeting: Thirty minutes daily at least one hour separate from porn and without ejaculation for a minimum of three days. One client returned after the first week saying something about chewing up the furniture. Yeah, well, I won’t relent.

Comfort isn’t a primary objective in sexual growth. Expanding into sexual potential is. This is why I question everything. Why do we marry masturbation with porn? It seems like a good idea on a crazy Saturday afternoon just like peanut butter and jelly sounds like fun, but five years later we’re still only eating PB & Js and jerking with porn? What the hell?

I’m thinking it’s time for a trial separation.

Porn and Masturbation—Trouble Relating

David Ley, in his compassionate work, Ethical Porn for Dicks, describes an acquaintance’s experience where the guy is incapable of arousal and masturbation without a suitable image to masturbate to. His solution? He sketches a stick figure on a napkin. It works. It seems to me with that knowledge he could save some piles of cash on magazines and broadband fees.

The relationship between masturbation and porn is a dysfunctional one. This is important to understand. Human relationships resulting in growth and full experience of human existence are marked by each partner wanting and encouraging the best experience of the other. The relationship between porn and masturbation while a kick at parties is not this way.

Knowing Yourself

Appreciation of porn is a solitary experience in which you immerse yourself in your own experience while witnessing the emotion of another. Think of an art museum. You wouldn’t appreciate art while building a birdhouse. You exclude other activities and focus your attention on the situation depicted in the art. You attempt to feel with the emotional capacity of your body what is expressed in the art. Porn is that sort of art. While it’s not produced and sold this way, it’s best experienced this way.

Masturbation, in much the same way, is best experienced in a solitary way with full focus. Masturbation runs on sexual energy parallel with emotional energy. To work well, they function simultaneously in the body. The body is where emotional energy is expressed. The body is where sexual energy is expressed. Thought activity must reduce in order to fully realize the sexual and emotional potential of a masturbation experience. It’s why we zone out once very aroused in partnered sex. Even with a partner, we’re lost facing ourselves.

While understanding what’s happening in porn and masturbation independently, you can see that when you marry them, while together they create a new experience, they also suppress one another’s sexual and emotional potential.

It’s always a good idea to pause and get curious when you realize you’re doing something that either makes matters worse or stops you from going a little bit further. This is one of those places.

Insecurity Is A Ticket To Sexual Growth

It’s not at all uncommon to experience feelings of insecurity in sexual matters. I’m pretty sure it might have happened to me, I think. And it happens when we are faced with ourselves—which is incidentally a prime benefit of sex. Insecurity is precisely why we continue this pairing of porn with masturbation. When we masturbate with porn we merge our own emotional experience with the experience of the characters we view. This is exactly why porn works so well. People don’t have to face their own sexual insecurities because they merge them with folk in pornographic situations. And then they do it again. And again. And again. And porn makers make more porn.

Porn, though it presents images of other folk in erotic situations, faces us with our own emotions about our sexual self—what we perceive as our longing, weakness, deficiencies, or failures. When we look at others, we see ourselves. When we masturbate while viewing porn, we distract ourselves and only use porn for arousal and escape from ourselves. Porn is a handy tool for an escape when we feel the need to calm, comfort, or displace an emotion.

The effect with masturbation is far worse. Here is a behavior in which we express love, kindness, acceptance, and aspiration with our body in which we also feel discomfort, pain, failure, and discouragement. It’s a terrible conflict. It’s a conflict in which some pornographic distraction would be really handy. It is handy, and we never fully feel the emotion that a solo sexual experience could have provided.

I’m not criticizing this union completely, yet when it’s habituation, masturbation married to porn on Saturday afternoon, by Tuesday, is nothing more than a convenient exit from the honesty and complete sexual and emotional experience of knowing ourselves. We will experience so much more appreciation of the beauty and emotional experience of porn when we enjoy it on its own merit. Masturbation in the quiet of our own body and emotions free from images, fantasy, and critical thought is both terrifying and exhilarating.

There is, without doubt, a path that any of us can follow to discover a simpler yet more profound experience with masturbation and porn. I’ll outline a few suggestions.

Without discussing any ethics of porn, I’m assuming that’s a ford in the journey of porn that you’ve already managed. Having said that, porn is a very rich experience and artform. It’s best that we refine our taste and savor it.

Minimalist Porn Appreciation

Start by setting aside some time. Be conservative and begin with thirty minutes or so. Keep your clothes on and opt for still images. Video is noisy and distracting when you’re trying to refine your taste. Take this thinking a step further and try to find black and white images that intrigue you. Choose one that strikes a chord with your appreciation and sit with a full-screen image of the photo and just look at it.

Don’t think very much. Just look and pay attention to your body and what emotions this image evokes. Don’t be distracted by storylines or look for technical qualities. Just pay attention to the emotion in your body.

When you feel the emotion—no matter how slight or barely detectible—is complete, move on to another image. Do the same. Appreciate the image. Maybe you like it. Maybe it’s disturbing. It caught your attention. Look at it and feel what you are able to feel. Even if it’s not much, feel it. Do this with no more than ten images. This way you are appreciating porn rather than scrolling like a mad person and feeling nothing other than desperation to get off.

Now, close your magazine, book, or computer and just sit and feel once more. You don’t need more than two or three minutes, and you’re done.

Congratulations! You just appreciated porn in a new way. Try it again another day.

Minimalist Masturbation

Masturbation is not that different, but it requires also some simple penile technique which I will describe in some detail.

Avoid porn at least an hour before or after your masturbation session. Set aside twenty or thirty minutes—no more or less. Get comfortable and eliminate distractions. You don’t need any electronics, music, or special gear, just hands, and one penis. This is minimalist solo sex.

Focus on your genitals. First, just look and appreciate. Appreciating doesn’t mean thinking. Here, to appreciate is more of an emotion. A misunderstanding of it here would be to think it’s gratitude. It’s not. You could consider appreciation as enjoyment with some benefit—at least the feeling of enjoyment and benefit. Look at your genitals with appreciation.

Second, touching here isn’t the masturbation touch that most guys are used to—the usual touch has an end in mind to cum or orgasm. That’s not our goal right now. Touch in this case calls for a light caress. I suggest only touching with your fingertips. When you touch your genitals with just your fingertips and not your full hand or fist, you can feel more nuance and detail.

As you begin to touch your genitals, instead of focusing there, focus on your breath. Allow your breath to occupy your attention for just a minute or two. Don’t attempt to think or fantasize, just focus on your breath. If you manage this for a few seconds or a minute, you’re doing well.

Then move your focus to your genitals and the touch you sense of your fingertips. Arousal isn’t the main objective, just the appreciation of your touch. Pay attention to what you feel in your genitals. If you find yourself fantasizing or thinking, just note that and let it go. Bring your attention back to your genitals and the feel of your touch.

After a few minutes, shift your focus back to your breath. Allow any thoughts or fantasy or desire to become arousal melt away and allow breath again.

Then shift back to your touch but this time focus on what you feel in your fingertips. Focus on what your genitals feel like to your fingertips. This can be a tricky maneuver, but you’ll know it when you feel it. Appreciate what your fingertips feel as they touch and caress. Focus in this way for a few minutes.

Once again shift back to your focus on your breath in the same way. Allow thoughts and fantasy to wane and feel your breath.

Finally, bring your focus to your own emotion in your body. This could be a leap at first, and it is for many, but if you contact your own emotion if even for a few seconds, you’ve done well. While your fingertips touch your genitals, notice and feel your emotions in your body. Notice where in your body. If thoughts, words or fantasy comes to mind, note them and let them go, and return your attention to the emotional feeling in your body. There’s no need to identify your emotion with words or phrases or think about it—just feel it.

Allow any feelings remaining to complete. Allow your fingertips and genitals to gradually rest and breathe for a minute. Make a decision to try this again in a day or two with even more curiosity.

Practice Staying

While many words are required to describe a new appreciation for porn and masturbation independent of one another, this approach is insanely simple. And it’s in this simplicity that most of us will at one time or another or even all the time, feel insecure or in more plain terms: weird. If so, we’re probably following the instruction because we’ve very likely come face-to-face with ourselves.

Surely you understand this experiment is a path to unlock your own creativity to further appreciate porn and reach inside yourself and discover yet unimagined masturbation experiences. The trick is to remain minimal—to never distract. When you again merge your emotions with a character in porn or avoid feeling your own emotions and sexual experience in your body when you masturbate, just note that. Return to the exercise and practice staying.

A face-to-face encounter with self is the path to rich and deep sexual experience. Give your own porn with masturbation marriage a trial separation and see what you might have been missing. Don’t worry if it freaks you a little bit. That’s just a sign that you might be on to something. You might be meeting yourself.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

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