Auntie SparkNotes: How Do I Stop "Enjoying" Myself?
...It's a bit awkward for me to talk about this. So, here I go then.
Ma'am, I've been at it for, er... four years now? You could say I kinda stumbled into it. My morals tell me I shouldn't be doing this, and I honestly wish I could stop, too. I mean, it kinda started when I had my first girlfriend, and I think I stuck with the habit when I left her. It was for me to "cope," I guess. But it's just a habit now, and I just do it for the heck of it, I aint even half awake some times.
I really do wanna stop, but HOW exactly do I do that? I tried searching it up on the interwebs and all, but I mostly got weird religious stuff. I don't wanna ask parents, 'cause they'd REALLY get mad at me, and it's a bit awkward.
So...how exactly do I stop? Is there like a predetermined plan or something? Or do I stop cold turkey?
Forgot to say: I'm a guy, and 16. Am I too young for this?
And if any of you are wondering what "this" is—because our darling letter-writer, in his delicate dance around the subject, never actually comes out and says it!—I'll give you two hints:
Hint #1: It's not smoking.
Hint #2: Because it's masturbation! Yaaaaaaay!
And I'm sorry, Sparkler, because I've gotta tell you: even if you could quit the DIY HND right this minute and for all eternity, I'm not the sort of agony aunt who'll ever tell you that you should. Polishing your own fender is a normal, natural, necessary part of growing up and coming to grips with your sexuality. No pun intended. (...Just kidding. It was totally intended. Grips! Ha!) And if you click back through previous columns on this same subject, you'll see that DIY HND is something I strongly advocate, for everyone, so that you can all become fully-functioning, sexually-empowered people with a solid understanding of how your bodies work. And if you're old enough to feel sexual desire, then you're old enough to start exploring it, responsibly and safely, on your own.
Of course, how and how often you do said exploring is up to you. And that's where your letter gets a little bit... odd, in that you're trying awfully hard to paint this as something beyond your control, which you take no pleasure in, and which keeps happening to you out of thin air. But it's not! You know it's not. You're the one in charge, here—and if you really wanted to stop boffing yourself, you'd just, y'know, stop boffing yourself.
EXCEPTION TO THE ABOVE: Obviously, this doesn't apply if you're masturbating compulsively (as in constantly, to the point of injury, or at the expense of your life/hobbies/relationships with other people). If that's the case, there's something more going on here than just jerking off, and you should talk to a mental health professional about your behavior. But it doesn't sound like that's what's happening—and no, reflexively shaking hands with the man while you're half asleep doesn't count. (Believe it or not, that happens to pretty much everyone, and apart from wearing titanium underpants and a pair of mittens to bed, there's really nothing you can do about it.)
Which brings me to this: I have a hunch that this isn't about you actually wanting to stop, but about you feeling like you're supposed to stop, because [insert vague unfounded statement about it being immoral to touch yourself]. So before you go beating yourself up for... well, beating yourself up, I hope you'll consider the following: that by addressing your urges in a healthy and responsible way, you're actually being far more respectful of your body and your sexuality than if you were trying to pretend that they didn't exist. You're doing a service to your relationships, present and future, by seeing sexual desire as something natural and normal, not dirty and shameful. You're fulfilling your responsibility to your future partners by knowing and understanding what gets you going. And when you do become sexually active, you can be confident that you're making that decision for the right reasons, and not out of horny desperation to get your rocks off.
And if all that sounds pretty righteous to you, then consider that there might be certain bad habits far more worth your attention than your self-pleasuring proclivities.
Like, for instance, using the word "aint" in public. Now that's disgusting.
Got a comment to add (or another ridiculous euphemism for masturbation to share)? Leave it here! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
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