How To Stop Masturbation and Develop Healthier Behaviors

Masturbation is a behavior that some feel deeply ashamed of, while others may not take it seriously. Everyone grapples with feelings and decisions about their sexuality. But it’s important to understand the risks of masturbation, and to do your best to break free from the unhealthy behaviors and mindsets associated with it.

What is Masturbation?

Masturbation happens when you touch yourself sexually to the point of giving yourself an orgasm. Most people masturbate alone, but sometimes your boyfriend or girlfriend may want to masturbate with you so that you’re touching one another sexually to the point of orgasm without having sex. Your partner may also ask to masturbate in front of you as a way of bringing you sexual gratification, or ask you to masturbate in front of them to sexually gratify themselves.

Is Masturbation Wrong?

It’s easy to wonder why masturbation is wrong since you’re not technically having sexual intercourse. But it’s still an act of sexual touching. If you’re waiting until marriage to have sex, self-gratification (or any sexual touching with a partner) should be avoided until you can share a meaningful sexual experience with your spouse.

Stopping masturbation also makes it easier to avoid emotional complications that come with sexual acts and will likely make it easier to find sexual fulfillment when you do share the experience with your spouse.

Masturbation and Harmful Behavior

Masturbation itself complicates relationships, fosters shame, and damages self-worth for many people we talk to at TheHopeLine. It’s also associated with risky and harmful behaviors, including:

  • Pornography: Masturbating while watching pornography compounds shame and increases the hiding of sexual urges and behaviors, rather than acknowledging and discussing them with someone who can help you process your feelings and set boundaries in a healthy way.
  • Sexual Assault: Because masturbation is sometimes done to or in front of people before they consent to it or feel comfortable with it, it is sometimes tied to sexual assault and abuse.
    • Important Note: If you decide you do not want to masturbate or to watch someone else masturbate, let the person you’re with know your decision. If they still pressure you to masturbate, force you to watch them, or touch you sexually in any way without your consent, take steps to report them for sexual assault and get help right away. To reach your local Sexual Assault Hotline, call 800-656-HOPE (4673).
  • Addiction: Because it produces the euphoric feelings of orgasm and sexual climax, masturbation often becomes an addictive behavior. Like other types of addiction, it increases isolation, develops unhealthy emotions, and affects otherwise close relationships.

Choosing Self-Control Over Masturbation

It is possible to stop masturbating and develop greater self-control over your sexual urges and desires.

  • There are people who will listen without shaming you or judging you.
  • You can talk about it with people you trust.
  • Therapists and mentors are trained to talk about topics like sex, masturbation, and pornography. They can help you make a plan for healing and improved self-worth.

Don’t let shame stop you from getting help to break free. TheHopeLine offers live chat and email mentors for confidential advice and support.

Want to learn more? Search our library of podcasts, ebooks, blogs, and more for answers to questions like:

  • I’m Ashamed After Doing Sexual Acts: What Do I Do?
  • How Do I Stop Sexual Addiction?
  • What if My Boyfriend or Girlfriend Uses Pornography?

FAQ on Masturbation:

Is Masturbation Addiction Real?

If you're regularly masturbating in response to negative emotion and feel like you can't stop, you may be addicted. Why? Because it reveals you're not processing your emotions and indicates you're living in some level of distress, making it the perfect opportunity to get hooked. Addiction loves pain. It is a faux salve for emotional wounds. But in reality, our vice, be it masturbation or otherwise, is infecting that wound that so desperately needs to be healed.

Learn more

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