How do you manage your sex drive or your desire to have sex without masturbating?
Masturbation has been presented to me as my only option and yeah there is no harm in masturbating because I am not including other people physically, or is there any other way? How can I manage my sexual desires in a healthy way?
I would like to start by thanking you for asking such a bold question. There are other people with this same mentality roaming around and you’re not alone. The fact that you somehow ask shows that you want to do things correctly so our hat is off to you!
I want to give you some freedom and let you know that it’s absolutely possible to manage your sex drive and masturbation is not the only option. In fact it is probably just one of the worst “options” out there. But the “cons” to masturbation is worth discussing especially if you just heard masturbation promoted as the only option to control your sex drive. It is normal and healthy.
Let me start with my story: I have not met myself feeling victorious after I have masturbated. I have felt ashamed, empty, and lonely when it’s all over. I have Googled for the answer of masturbation and I have found that masturbation can lower stress and help me get relaxed in fact get an amazing sleep. But saying, “It’s not a big deal,” but habitually masturbating is healthy certainly hasn’t led me into greater freedom. (And isn’t that what we’re all looking for — freedom, joy, hope, and, well, abundant life?) I have found that the more I masturbate, the more heightened my sex drive becomes. This makes sense because you grow when you feed your appetite.
If you’re trying to calm your sex drive down by masturbating, you’re really not helping yourself. Here’s the deal — There is a chemical in your brain called “Dopamine”. Dopamine is a Neurotransmitter which means it sends signals from one cell to another. When the person engages in a behavior that is followed by a reward — activates the dopamine pathway. The purpose of this pathway is to remember reward-motivated behavior. When there is pleasure involved your brain remembers this, and each time you come across a situation where the dopamine pathway is activated, your brain will release more Dopamine before you engage in that behavior.
The first time you viewed porn, you don’t know beforehand whether or not it feels good. Once you start engaging in the behavior it feels good. So, the dopamine pathway is opened up and it starts sending pleasure signals from one cell to another.
Fast forward to the next time you view porn before even you view porn you start thinking about viewing porn. The brain has remembered this reward-motivated behavior so the dopamine pathway is already opened up sending pleasure signals from one cell to another. Before you know it certain things will trigger the release of dopamine without you having to think about porn, which then forces you to think about it when the dopamine pathway is opened up.
There is something called the “trigger”. The problem with all of this is if you start to chronically view porn — your brain is constantly flooding with dopamine. And in order to regulate the dopamine receptions gets smaller when your brain and when there is too little dopamine this is where you will start to feel sad, lonely, depressed, or unmotivated. The only way to get rid of sad and unmotivated is to get more dopamine to the brain. So, eventually you watch more porn.
Interestingly, we seem to think that the best way to feel fulfilled sexually is to get as much as we can without going “all the way”. Unfortunately, this leaves us feeling frustrated and empty. Why? Because God designed us in such a way that our bodies are programmed to “finish what we start” sexually. Part of this is a relational finish, where we are able to experience oneness with our spouse. Without the relationship that remains after the orgasm fades, we feel like we’re missing something. It didn’t satisfy the way we thought it would, and then we’re left with the same desires we started with and end up in cycle to satisfy our needs. Have you ever wonder why doesn’t masturbation satisfy these “sexual” desires?
Oftentimes, it’s because our sexual desires have less to do with sex and more to do with our physical, emotional, spiritual, or relational health.
Let’s get back to the important point: If managing your sex drive feels like a never-ending battle, there’s probably something out of balance in your life. It could be spiritual, emotional, physical, or relational. How can you correct this?
- BE AWARE AND KNOW YOUR HOTSPOT.
Self-awareness is knowing yourself: what you like, what you don’t like, how you feel, what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at. Why is this important? Because many of us act out sexually and we don’t know why.
We, as humans, hate pain. We’ll do anything to avoid it. When we have (basically) any uncomfortable feeling, we begin to seek our comfort. This is in our design—we were made with the ability to seek our answers and find what we need. This comfort may come in the form of healthy relationships, it may come as addictions to food, drugs, game, social media, sex, masturbation, etc. Is there anything wrong with seeking comfort? Absolutely not. But we must navigate our pain into the right direction of freedom. In the bible, God promised that He is our present help and comforter. David wrote in Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” We can find permanent solutions to our repetitive problems by turning our eyes to God and being honest with Him about our problems.
- LEARN AND PRACTICE SELF-CONTROL.
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but if you are a believer and have chosen to live a life set apart and unto the Lord, then scripture is pretty clear that God wants you to be able to manage YOU and not be mastered by anything. This includes any and all addictions – masturbation, food, shopping, caffeine, gambling — you get the picture. You can read more about this in I Thessalonians 4:3-7.
Somebody said: momentary pain is worth long-term gain.
Our culture today is ALL about instant gratification. Delaying gratification (disciplining ourselves) is not a popular idea. We all want to be thin, but don’t want to exercise. We all want to have money, but don’t learn to save. We want to have amazing relationships, but don’t practice the self-control it takes to love, honor, and cherish our loved ones. Simply put, we have to learn to say NO to ourselves sometimes if we are going to reap the benefits of a healthy life later on.
Will it be hard? Probably, at least at the start. Remember, if this has been your pattern, you need to break it by abstaining. This means telling yourself “NO” when you want to masturbate, especially if you are used to telling yourself “YES”, and your body gets what it wants. But, if you persevere, eventually, it will lose much of its powerful pull. The more you tell yourself no, the easier it will become and the cycle will be broken.
- EVALUATE YOUR NEEDS.
There are basic relational needs all of us have such as connection, intimacy, being known, etc., and oftentimes pornography and masturbation can act as comfort or quick fix to us when any one, some, or all of these needs go unmet.
Masturbation is often an intimacy issue. It is crucial, for women, to feel known and to feel valued; without these, many women use masturbation as a way to feel loved, wanted, sexy, and seen, if only for a moment. Men may often feel the desire to masturbate when they have felt powerless, or disrespected, and when part of their heart is empty. But it all comes down to the quality of their relationships and how they feel about themselves in them. Assess your relationships and make sure you have people in your life that value you and love you. Relationships should give us life and bring us strength.
Having enough healthy emotional connections with those around you will help bring your sex drive under submission. If you get what you truly need, you won’t need to use masturbation to get a “quick fix” instead.
- EVALUATE YOUR BEHAVIOUR.
Let’s break this down to some practicality: Being aware of what triggers your sex drive or stimulates you is important. What are you watching (movies, TV shows, commercials, Facebook/IM, blogs, etc.)? What are you listening to (music, radio, talk shows, podcasts, etc.)? What types of people do you surround yourself with and what things do you discuss? Are these people life-giving? Are they cheering you on and encouraging you to go after your goals and dreams? Do you talk about edifying things or things that take you down a dark road? With sexual perversity all around us it can be quite easy to be sexually stimulated, so just be aware of what you are feeding your body, soul, and spirit.
- BE HONEST WITH GOD.
You may have already done this, but be honest with God about your problem. Try not to get into the habit of just hoping He’ll answer your unspoken questions or requests. Ask Him. Cry. Get angry if you have to be. God is not afraid of your emotions, your disappointments, your fears, or your shortcomings. Don’t run from Him instead run to Him. When we give God access to the center of our behavior, He is ready and available to release freedom in those areas. Then discover how you can partner with Him to stay free. This might involve having a written plan for how to manage the feelings that precede your desire to watch porn. The Holy Spirit is able to guide you into truth and can bring you the strength, to navigate your God-given sex drive. God will never give you something you’re not able to manage.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
- INVITE OTHERS IN AND SAY NO TO SHAME.
We encourage you to ask for help and process what you are going through with older, wiser, loving leaders, pastors, parents, etc. They have walked this road before and remember, there is no shame or embarrassment in inviting others in and asking for help. In doing so, you may accidentally find the intimacy, connection, and comfort that you need in order to manage your sex drive well.
- RENEWAL OF YOUR MIND.
The brain has a center is which is called Plasticity — which is the ability of the brain to modify its connection or re-wire itself. It can change based on your environment and the information you take in. This is good news because YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR BRAIN BY NOT WATCHING PORN AND MASTURBATING! This is good news because you can literally change your brain by not watching porn. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, renewing of the mind? Yes! This is possible as you dwell on your identity and truth of the Gospel. As you start believing that you are righteous, holy, blameless, and perfect in God your brain cell will re-wire itself, and masturbation and pornography will only be history.
IN CONCLUSION, MASTURBATION IS NOT YOUR ONLY OPTION.
Sex drive is a gift from God. The reason why God gave you a sex drive years before He wants you to have sex inside the marriage, is because anyone can give something expensive but only the people who understand sacrifice can only give something worth valuable. Your sex drive doesn’t have to feel out of control. You can manage it by learning to get your needs met, setting up boundaries, and staying in a relationship.
Powerful people can tell themselves what to do. If you worked through all this stuff and you are whole, body, soul, and spirit, it may simply boil down to the fact that you want to have sex. You may have to practice saying “NO” to yourself, at least for a time. There is nothing unhealthy about abstaining from sex or masturbation, and in fact, it may grow in you all of the character qualities that will lead you to healthy, fulfilling relationships, including marriage and great sex life.
Think of it like this: you can’t have every sweet thing that you see or you’ll be at risk of becoming diabetic. You can’t have sex every time you are turned on. You learning to manage your sex drive will create security for your spouse and you’ll know how to point that desire toward one person – your spouse – and he or she will be ever so grateful you took care of this now, and not five (or fifty) years into your marriage.