How Watching Porn Ruined Masturbation for Me

porn

Up until a year ago, porn never got in the way of the orgasms I had during partnered sex or a self-love session. I could fantasize while having sex with myself or with my partner and still get myself there just as well (if not more so) than when I watched porn. However, that began to change about a year ago, which was about halfway through my grad school career. Writing a thesis while in the middle of my clinical internship was taking a toll on me emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually. Don’t get me wrong: grad school was a wonderful, life changing experience but it’s exhausting. You forget how to take care of yourself. I’m talking basic like, “Did I shower today? Or eat lunch? Or breathe?” With all of that going on, how could I be expected to remember if I’d had a good orgasm that day??

In the midst of trying to gather data for my thesis project, working a part time job, and working at my internship, I began to care less about how I was getting myself off. It just mattered that I was getting to the big “O” that would jumpstart my morning–and that’s where porn came in. It was just easy, you know? I would wake up, unplug my phone from its charger and I’d Google the porn I’d been jonesing to watch. I’d turn the volume down just low enough so that I could hear it but my roommate(s) couldn’t, I’d come in a few minutes, and I’d go about my day.

I referred to those O’s as my “porngasms.” Did they feel good? Hell yes. Were they earth-shatteringly good? No. But at the time I wasn’t interested in a mindful, body-connected self-orgasm. I wanted that jolt of orgasm goodness before starting my day. Mission: accomplished. Over time, though, watching porn wasn’t the quick happy fix that it once was. Before I even realized it, I’d have to skip around to two, then three, then maybe five or six porn clips to get there. Okay, so what if I got bored easily and I had to skip around to a few different clips until I hit it big; what’s the problem? At the time it wasn’t a big deal; it didn’t matter that my go-to searches weren’t titillating anymore. I just figured that meant I was broadening my (fantasy) horizons. And I wasn’t entirely wrong, but really what was happening was that I was desensitizing myself to fantasies (and people, like my partner) that used to turn me on. My reality and the fantasies that I used to masturbate to all the time were now boring. Deep down I knew that was bad, but I just didn’t know how to fix it.

One day during my last semester of grad school I decided, “Hey, I’ve got time; I’m going to get off the old fashion way, by fantasizing the way I used to. This will be great!” I was home by myself; I could just lay back, relax and let my mind drift from fantasy to fantasy until I erupted into a great orgasm. But that is the opposite of what happened. I couldn’t concentrate. I would try to hold one fantasy in my mind but then my mind would go blank or I’d be trying to focus so hard on what the fantasy was that I would stop paying attention to what I was doing with my own body, what I was touching and how. The failed attempt to get myself off for the first time in quite a while without using porn was a disaster and left me feeling like shit.

How could I let this happen? I wracked my brain and the only answer I could come up with was too much porn. Porn was an easy instrument I used to get myself off, but in the ease and accessibility of it I lost my connection to my own body. My body stopped registering what actually felt good to me because my brain was too busy attending to what was on the screen. I knew I had to change something.

Even though I knew I should make some changes and reconsider how I was attuning to my own sexual needs, it certainly did not happen overnight. I think I was in denial for a while. I started speculating: Maybe it’s not about the porn; maybe it’s because I am so stressed in these last months leading up to graduation; or maybe it’s because I hate my job; or because I’m not exercising enough. All of those variables were valid. They probably did (and still continue to) impact my sexuality on a day to day basis. But those variables certainly did not account for why I was so out of touch (literally) with my body. It was like I had forgotten what felt good to me and I couldn’t even turn myself on.

So where am I at now with all of this? Well, I decided to try porn-free masturbation again. Within the past month I’ve finally started to turn my self-loving around and I’m re-attuning to my body and her needs. And to be honest, it has taken a lot of diligence and compassion for myself. Whenever I find myself desiring to get off, I make sure that I have enough time to do so and make sure I’m relaxed before I dive in. If I feel like I am going to rush and put pressure on myself to come so I can get to work, or the grocery store, or wherever I won’t force it. I’m sure I’ll be able to get a self-guided quickie in like I used to, but for now I am taking it one day at a time. Someday I’ll re-incorporate porn into my sex life, but for now I’m in no rush. I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with my imagination and my body.   

Image: me and the sysop/Flickr

Nicole is a snarky feminist, free spirited non-monogamist. She is trained as a social worker and has a background in sexuality education, social justice and community outreach work. When she is not writing about sexuality hot topics she can be found meandering around used bookstores or hanging out in the wilderness somewhere, probably by a body of water. Nicole can be reached at nicolenelson700@gmail.com.

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