There’s a movement that’s happening among men. Maybe you’ve heard about it. It’s called “Don’t Spank the Monkey.” OK, that’s not what it’s called. I don’t know what it’s called. But the point is, these guys are giving up masturbating.

Why? To feel better. And to become better men.

There have been lots of articles about this movement in the past few years. Online communities have been formed. Self-help gurus have jumped on the bandwagon. Across the nation and the world, men just like you and me are abstaining from self-pleasuring, and they say they feel more awesome—increased sex drive, greater focus, more productivity, etc.

So… I decided to give the whole “no masturbation” thing a whirl. For a month. As an experiment. Here are my findings.

1. It sucks. And I’m not even a big masturbator. I do it maybe three to five times per week (usually in the shower, right after working out). Before I saw The Wolf of Wall Street and got inspired by Matthew McConaughey’s speech to Leonardo DiCaprio about the importance of beating off several times a day, I did it even less. So it’s not like I was this three-pack-a-day smoker giving up Marlboros. Still, it’s not a good time.

2. OK, at the beginning it didn’t suck too badly. For the first week or so, I was actually digging it. It gave me a little more pent-up sex drive and testosterone and horniness, which, as a 37-year-old guy who has noticed his libido go from the equivalent of a Ford Mustang to the equivalent of a Toyota Prius, I enjoyed. It felt like power.

3. Seriously, good feeling of power. It’s almost like you’re walking around with a loaded weapon. Only if this one goes off, you won’t be sent to prison. (Well, unless you happen to be near an elementary school when it does.)

“Man needs a release from the annoyances of the modern world, and masturbation is one of the most dependable, cheapest and least harmful ones at his disposal.”

4. By the midpoint, though, it was frustrating. You know how it is. There are women you occasionally see that just trigger an immediate “I need to masturbate” response in you. A 20-something Latina in a short black dress whose thong you can see. A 30-something MILF laying out in her bikini. An Internet video of Misty Copeland. And usually, you tuck that visual away and then when you get to a “safe house,” a place where you can take matters into your own hands, you do. And then you feel fine again.

But when you can’t, that frustration builds. It lingers, festers, grows. You keep thinking about that woman and how you’ll never have her. Your frustration turns into all these other emotions. Loneliness. Depression. Anger. None of these emotions are good things to have churning inside you.

5. Unless these emotions inspire you to make a necessary change in your life. Like, maybe you’ve been leaning too heavily on masturbation, using it as this pacifier that helps you get through your otherwise miserable existence. Take away that little daily activity, and now you’re more motivated to transform your life— lose weight to make yourself more attractive, find a good woman to settle down with, etc. It makes sense: If sex is the only way you can get off, you’re going to be more motivated to find a steady relationship.

6. More likely, though, these feelings of frustration/anger/loneliness/depression just motivate you to go out and find a willing participant—any willing participant. And usually this doesn’t lead to you waking up next to a high-quality individual. Or feeling very good about yourself.


Pretty much obligatory.

7. Here’s the other thing: You quickly realize that the key to survival is to avoid all temptations in the first place. It’s like that saying among alcoholics and other addicts: if you don’t want to slip, don’t go where it’s slippery. But the problem is, the modern world is very slippery.

Think about it: Where can you go where you won’t see any sexual images? You can’t watch TV. You can’t go on the internet. You can’t work out in a public gym. You can’t walk the sidewalks of a major city. (Certainly not New York City, where I live. Especially below 42nd Street.) You would pretty much have to live in a log cabin in the wilderness to avoid all masturbatory enticements. Hot women are everywhere. Which is often a good thing. It’s how we like it. But it’s not helpful when you’ve made a pledge not to moisturize your penis for a month.

8. There’s something bigger going on here, too. For guys, masturbation is a good way to release general frustration, not just sexual frustration. For example, one night about halfway through my month, my neighbor’s smoke detector went off. And they were on vacation or something, so it just kept blaring. I shut all my windows and turned up my TV, but it didn’t matter, I could still hear it, like an aural Chinese torture test.

The worst part was when I tried to sleep that night. I kept anticipating the beeping, waking up and wondering if it had stopped and then hearing it again. It was super fucking annoying. I called my landlord the next morning and eventually multiple firemen in full gear had to break in and turn off the smoke detector. (Their apartment is on the fourth floor, too, so there was a fire truck and an amazing scene with a huge mechanical ladder that lifted the firemen up to my neighbors’ patio. I figure it probably cost taxpayers about $5,000.)

But the point is: during this whole “crisis,” I really could’ve used a wank. I mean, I really wanted one, I was dying for one, because I knew it would’ve calmed me down. Without it, I just got angrier and angrier.

Man needs a release from the annoyances of the modern world, and masturbation is one of the most dependable, cheapest and least harmful ones he has at his disposal. It’s not natural to go without it, I realized at about 4 a.m. that night, as the smoke detector was worming its way into my brain. Go ahead and try if you want, but I’m warning you, it sucks. You’re going to be hating life by about Day 20. And by Day 29, you’ll have a new understanding for prison culture.