I'm Not Supposed To Be Masturbating, But I Do

And I'm lying to my therapist about it, so I hope he doesn't Google me.

Jun 19, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

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My sex toys live in a lock box these days.

One of the best parts of working from home, which I do once or twice a week, is being able to casually masturbate all day like a monkey.

Yep, if you've received an email, read a tweet or been on a conference call with me from within the privacy of my own home, you can pretty much bet that at some point my hand was in my panties. (I never wear pants while working from home.)

But like I said, it's casual. I don't think I'm an extreme masturbator. Sure, I fiddle around in there a lot, but I only buckle down and get serious about it once every week or two. (Full journalistic disclosure: I just did, which is why I'm writing this post, and also why you should keep your blacklight away from my keyboard.) The problem is that I'm not supposed to be doing it at all.

Here's where I start to sound like I'm in a weird religious cult or something, and I know a lot of people get uptight when you suggest that masturbation might not be a healthy choice for everyone, but I'll try to explain. Stay with me.

I have a touch of the ol' sex addiction, which I treat through intensive therapy and attendance at a 12-step recovery program. There are at least 4 of them, and they all have different definitions of "sexual sobriety."

As you can imagine, it's something of a tricky concept. Sex is a beautiful dirty, nasty God-given thing, and nobody would ever get sober if it meant we could never enjoy it again. Thusly, a lot of sex addiction recovery programs allow you to create your own sobriety plan with a sponsor or counselor. I knew that wasn't going to work for someone of my constitution: When I'm allowed to make my own rules, I end up on drunk and high on Craigslist for 15 hours a day with cupcake crumbs in between my fat rolls. On the other hand, some programs are super-extreme and religiousy and won't allow any sex outside of marriage or for gay people ever.

The plan I use has a set definition of sobriety for all members, which is, essentially, "No sex outside a mutually commited relationship and no masturbation." The first part is easy. Well, not easy, because having sex with just one person is inherently terrible, but I agreed to that expectation a lot of years ago.

And when I first started delving into my sordid sexual past, I was so unhappy and desperate that I hardly even noticed that second part. Fine, fine, whatever, just fix me. Sometimes when you're really fucked up, you need to just stop thinking and do what you're told for awhile. 

Initially I did a full 90 days of abstinence at my therapist's suggestion and wanted to jump off a building. Like, literally, I climbed a tower on vacation and really thought about jumping off of it. Which just supported the conclusion that my relationship to sex needed examining.

And I dutifully not-masturbated for about 8 months, which is to say, I did not rub myself to orgasm, although I did play with myself a little bit, which is what the guys in my program sometimes call "half-measuring." The not-masturbating made me sort of cranky, and bitchy, and extremely horny. Like, sometimes I'd be lying in bed at night and my genitals would emit sort of a faint, throbbing homing signal, all like touch me touch me touch me.

Then I accepted a job as a sex editor at xoJane. Which means that people send me free vibrators at the same rate that most of us you get pre-approved credit card offers. And that part of my job is to use them on my vagina before recommending you use them on your vaginas, ala the creepy guy who once wanted me to topless bartend his party but needed to "try me out" before letting me serve drinks to his friends.

So I inquired further about the reasons for this "no masturbation" rule. After all, playing with myself had never really been my problem. It was playing with others that got me into trouble. And while I know a goodly portion of male sex addicts who have a problem with masturbating to pornography, that wasn't my ish either. No, in my addictive heyday, I was just into good old-fashioned mashing of my genitals against a stranger's genitals.

What my therapist told me was that masturbation was still serving as a barrier to intimacy for me, a way to avoid healthy intimacy (ugh) with another human being. He also suggested that I might fantasize about old behaviors while masturbating, which could trigger me back into old behaviors or just reinforce negative arousal templates. I'll confirm this -- I'm sure as hell not thinking about "healthy intimacy" while I finger-bang myself.

I listened, I absorbed, and then I went ahead and did it anyway. And ever since then I've just been kind of like, "Fuck it," you know? I'm not actively lying, but I haven't brought up the fact that I'm masturbating again. And while I used to lie to doctors all the time ("5 drinks a week?" "Of course I use condoms!") lest they suggest I change my habits, these days lying to my therapist seems like a pretty dumb waste of my own money.

 Speaking of which, I can't believe I am putting this on the Internet, cause what if he Googles me? Is it like when someone finds out you're cheating on them from reading your diary and you can be all, "The real  issue HERE is you invading my privacy!!!"

But honestly, I should just tell him, right? Also, are you currently lying to your therapist about anything? And how often do you masturbate? I'm hardly even doing it!