When I was a kid, my uncle had a cyst on his knee. Every few days, it needed to be drained. When we’d visit, friends and family would gather around to watch him squeeze it until puss shot out onto a paper towel. To us, it was majestic. To him, it was just something he had to do from time to time. The tank was full – pressure had built – time for a release. This is what masturbation becomes for a lot of men. (No, not a family event, perv.) No, it becomes a release, a routine, an item on the to-do list.
It took many years before I realized this was what I was doing when I masturbated. It was a pernicious evolution from this magical thing into another cog in the machine of shit-that’s-gotta-get-done. I thought I was alone until I started asking some guys I know if they ever masturbate just because it’s something they need to do rather than for pleasure. And to my surprise, I was very much not alone.
Our other friend who was in the room chimed in: “Yeah, the other day, I had 10minutes before having to go to my vaccination appointment and figured, ‘Why not?’ I hadn’t in a while.”
I went and asked others what they thought and got similar responses:
“I do it before I work out.”
“I do it to cure my hangovers.”
“I do it to clear my head.”
Not one guy, out of the seven I spoke to, said, “Oh yeah, I love it – I can’t resist.”
Everyone agreed that sex, for the most part, is still about pleasure. But masturbation? Nah. This magical act inevitably transforms from a fun part of the day to a chore, a tool, a routine, another form of exercise…
I started to notice that my porn habits changed depending on why I was masturbating. For reference, every once in a while, I’ll go on a nice long run, take a yoga class, or supplement my workouts with a hike. Most of the time? I want to get it over and done with – heavy weights, supersets, in and out, done.
Similarly, with masturbating, there are those occasional days where I want some one-on-one time with myself. I won’t watch porn during those times or I’ll explore something new – a sex toy, a new video, relive an exciting fling in my mind. Most of the time? I want to get it over and done with old faithfuls, reliable porn.
These are the videos or pictures in the file marked “porn – for internal use only”. As someone who doesn’t masturbate much in general, this doesn’t have any serious impact on my porn preferences, but it means I tend to save porn. I know what works.
That wasn’t the case for other guys I spoke to.
While telling me about how masturbation has become boring, one guy friend said, “And I can’t even find porn to get the job done anymore!” Like how muscles grow used to the same weights, so some men’s porn tastes become more extreme, more homed in on what’s going to get the job done. Until it doesn’t and doesn’t again, and you find the next and the next. Rather than it being, how I’ve heard it, that men watch so much porn, so they need more extreme stuff to be sexually turned on, it’s more that the sex gets removed from the equation, the porn is a tool, the thought isn’t “I want to do this thing in reality” but more “I really want to get on with my day, I’ve become immune to the rest, so let’s overload the system and get this over with!”
The more guys I talked to, the more it seemed to come to one or another of these two responses: ‘Old Faithfuls’ or ‘Whatever Gets the Job Done This Time.’
While this does not explain away men’s habits of hoarding porn, on the one hand, or descending into what-the-fuck porn rabbit-holes on the other, it is a different perspective on two habits that are mostly associated with the reactions of “Ew, you sick perv.”
Hey, it might just be all about the sick gains, bro.