How can I stop thinking about the nasty?
June 18, 2008 11:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm obsessed with sex. I think about it constantly. How can I make it stop?

I'm 29 and still a technical virgin. I want to have sex, but can't seem to find a partner. I have had two past girlfriends, both of whom wanted to wait until marriage to have sex.

I find myself obsessed about sex. I think about it all the time. I watch porn when I get home from work. I'll stare at women's breasts and cleavage while I walk around. I hate that I do it. I've often thought about flying to Vegas and hiring a hooker, but can't bring myself to do it. I already masturbate daily, and two or three times each day on the weekend. It isn't enough.

Have any of you had success in stopping such pervasive thoughts? I'd like to stop thinking about sex, because I likely won't be getting any for a while
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

The only problem here is being upset about thinking about sex. Just recognize that it's natural and normal.
posted by callmejay at 11:27 AM on June 18, 2008

Why would you want to stop? Would you rather think about the economy or war? ;)
posted by unixrat at 11:30 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

I've often thought about flying to Vegas and hiring a hooker, but can't bring myself to do it.

How about local escort services? The Yellow Pages usually has them listed; no hipster alternative media needed. I find that pervasive thoughts are usually stopped or tempered by confronting the reality rather than spinning the wheels in the mud.
posted by not_on_display at 11:30 AM on June 18, 2008

SSRIs, among other antidepressants, are notorious for reducing sex drive. I think callmejay and unixrat have better advice, though.
posted by box at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2008

I agree with callmejay. I know men who have sex regularly and are still as obsessed as you are. There is a highly varied range of libidos among humans. You just happened to be blessed with a very strong one.

On the other hand, your strong sex drive could be an indication of a deeper emotional issue. What does having sex (or not having sex) mean to you? What, if anything, do sex and women symbolize to you? How have you dealt with intimacy in your past relationships? Exploring these issues (in therapy or not) could help you figure out why you feel so distressed about it.
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2008

Pick something else to obsess about. Music? Study of history? Develop a passion for something outside yourself.
posted by amtho at 11:38 AM on June 18, 2008

I'd go to Vegas and get that hooker. If you're 29 and haven't got laid yet, you've built sex into something way more amazing than it actually is. It's best to get mildly disappointed now with a prostitute than with the eventual next girlfriend. Get it over with now and you won't expect the girl in your bed to match the girl in your head when a real emotional relationship comes along.
posted by bunnytricks at 11:41 AM on June 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

Thoughts are passing and fleeting. Find out why you see having such thoughts as bad.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:41 AM on June 18, 2008

From your question, it's not clear why these thoughts are a problem (is it because you think you shouldn't be thinking them? Is it because it's interfering with carrying on your life? Or something else?)

If you think having sex would solve the problem (which you kind of imply although don't outright say), then like someone else said look in the yellow pages or log on to Craig's List and order some sex to your door. Vegas doesn't have a monopoly on that front.

Something tells me that this would not 'cure' you, though. It sounds more like you should accept that many men DO walk around thinking about sex all day, and that's OK.
posted by rooftop secrets at 11:42 AM on June 18, 2008

Oh and watching porn all the time doesn't help this sort of thing. It tends to make you see the whole world in sexual terms if you watch too much. Lay off that for a while and see if it helps.
posted by rooftop secrets at 11:44 AM on June 18, 2008

Are you noticing any negative consequences in your life due to your urges? Missing work, spending more money than you can afford, avoiding contact with real people? If so, you may have a serious problem and should seek professional help. If not, you probably just really want to get laid. This is a normal desire. Masturbating 8-10 times a week for someone your age is not extraordinary. Being turned on and wanting to look at attractive women in public is normal. As long as you manage your behavior in socially appropriate ways (don't stare too much, don't make people feel uncomfortable, etc.), you don't need to feel bad about this kind of behavior.

If you're socially skilled enough to have had 2 girlfriends in the past and be a 'technical' virgin, you're probably going to have the chance to have a relationship again. Don't get involved in a relationship with a girl who wants to wait until marriage if that's not what you want. Don't feel bad about yourself if that's not what you want. You're allowed to want to have sex, you're allowed to not want to wait until marriage.
posted by bluejayk at 11:45 AM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Start taking your Saturday or Sunday and put down the pr0n. Join some type of club or do an activity where you'll meet women (and other men). Thinking about sex all the time isn't that unheard of for a 29 year-old, but IMO it sounds like you really need to meet some women in a non-sexual context (which could become a sexual one if you manage to, you know, not come across as the type of guy who thinks about sex all the time).

I'm not morally opposed to prostitution, but I really doubt it would solve your problems for the long term. Sounds like you need to understand that women are sexual creatures just like us men, but that's only one part of the whole. And the best way to do this would be to make some friendships with women your age and see where things go from there.

Nothing wrong with porn either IMO, but it sounds like you're in danger of conflating it with real sexuality. They are two completely different things, unless you happen to be a porn-star yourself.
posted by bardic at 11:46 AM on June 18, 2008

I want to second (third?) that even if you get laid, by a professional or otherwise, the sexual thoughts won't stop. Oh, they'll probably decrease for a couple days, but after a week or two you'll be feeling the same way. So the solution is to come to terms with your thoughts and feelings.
posted by Justinian at 11:48 AM on June 18, 2008

Up the masturbation to twice a day, at least, as an experiment. Wake up to self-love and go to bed with it. It's called "playing" with yourself; it should be fun, surprising, whimsical and reassuring. Keep thinking of jacking off as something fun you do for you - treating yourself. Try not to become dependent on porn, and in my opnion, try extra hard not to be dependent on hardcore or really degrading porn. I advise that so that you can have a better headspace when you do my next suggestion: work harder on getting dates. Watching cum drip on tits for daily is not gonna set you up to see actual gorgeous cleavage bouncing along with the words that an attached girl says right to you with an appropriate expression. Whatever you're doing to find a nice girl you can see yourself being vulnerable with sexually right now, you need to try to double it. I'm talking internet dating, buying a new camera for your pictures if need be, getting help on your profile from your sister or somebody who likes youand calling old friends, scheduling visits or lunches (this is called networking and it WORKS) and going out to relaxed atmospheres where you can approach women on a weekly basis and finding some social activity at all costs. Dancing, gaming, volunteering, dogs. Something.

It's a guess that if you had two conservative girlfriends in the past, you're the type who would most prefer to have a hot sex life with a nice, committed girl. So, hire a pro if you must, but that's a crutch. This is a project you have to treat with seriousness. You can get some, don't tell yourself otherwise, just go out there and be as pateient, generous and sweet as you can be. You're about my age, and I think it's those attributes that are hardest to come by in late 20's guys. Good luck, sugar.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

I think the problem you're describing is a little more deeper than some of the folks up thread are making it out to be. The preoccupation with sex to the point where you're plotting to engage with prostitutes is just a little over the top from what I'd describe as normal. (Okay, it's normal for some guys, but probably not you.)

I think you probably don't need a one-night stand or a prostitute. What you need is a good, stable relationship - or actually a series of good relationships - where you and your partner can have regular, healthy sex.

The problem is you've built sex up into this big deal in your head where it preoccupies all other thoughts. Sadly this greatly impacts your ability to build relationships with women.

I can't stress this enough. It's a vicious cycle most guys fall into at least once in life. You need to get laid, but your desperation scares away anyone who would potentially lay you.

Here's the problem: when you do meet someone with date potential you're going to be a pent up weirdo. You're going to obsess over this woman. She may likely sense the frustration, and run away. (Wouldn't you?)

One solution is to spread yourself thin. Put yourself in a position where you can meet several different women. That way you're increasing your odds so that you won't be so crushed when things don't work (which they generally won't.)

How do you meet single women? Christ, that's another askme entirely. Alot has to do with your geography. I'm concerned because it sounds like you've dated some goodie-two-shoe types and I hope that doesn't mean you're somewhere in the bible belt... living in a conservative community drastically complicates your ability to meet and mount women. Move if you have to.
posted by wfrgms at 11:56 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

hire a professional escort or you'll go postal pretty soon, it's a miracle that you made it to 29 without mowing down random people in the subway
posted by matteo at 11:58 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

The sex drive can be terribly confusing. The need and drive for sex obscures another need, and that is for affection, the need to touch and be touched by another human being. Fortunately, we are able to handle this situation (pun intended) to keep the worst of it at bay. But without experience, you may not even realize how badly you need a hug, as it were.

But otherwise, unless you're spending an hour or more having a good wank, you're not being excessive.
posted by Goofyy at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd like to stop thinking about sex, because I likely won't be getting any for a while

You need to expand on this. Why won't you be getting any for a while? Are you in prison or some other situation where dating women is an impossibility?
If not, and you just have a negative attitude, I'd start with that. Lose the negativity. Try Cognitive Behavior Therapy or some other method to gain back some self esteem and optimism. The next step (make sure you fix the self-image first) is to get yourself out there. I'd suggest internet dating because it's a lot easier on the inexperienced dater and gets you that experience quickly. Meet as many of the women as possible, even for a quick afternoon drink or coffee. Build the dating skills. Eventually you'll find one you're comfortable with and who's comfortable with you. It'll happen, but not unless you make it happen.
In the meantime, porn and masturbation in moderation isn't that bad. Relax, you're not abnormal.
posted by rocket88 at 12:10 PM on June 18, 2008

Rather than getting it to stop, my take is that you're fanning the flames of thinking about sex by your behavior. By going after glimpses and masturbating, you're may be psychologically conditioning yourself to do this more and more often. The way to *reduce* your thinking (you won't stop altogether) is to stop availing yourself of opportunities to seek out the visual stimulation and to stop masturbating about them. When guys are trying to deal with their pornography addictions, they often find it useful to figure out how to avoid situations that stimulate the desire to seek out porn - sort of like how an alcoholic needs to stop going to bars when they're trying to stop drinking. If you're interested in this approach, Patrick Carnes is well-known in this field and his website might have some tips for you.

Interestingly, you don't say that you *want* to have sex - instead, you say that you want to stop thinking about it. Do you want sex? My guess is that you're probably divided in yourself - you probably want it terribly and are also anxious about getting it. Until you find a way to resolve this split in yourself, you'll probably continue in the safe, though unfulfilling world of internet porn and stolen glimpses of girls' bodies.

The idea that you can hire a hooker or two and just blast this whole thing apart is probably a misguided fantasy. If I'm right that you're nervous about it, chances are that the experience with a prostitute will be hugely disappointing. A few sessions with a good therapist might be a better investment.
posted by jasper411 at 12:18 PM on June 18, 2008

IMO thinking about sex all the time is a symptom of boredom. You need to cultivate some new interests. What do you really want to do but are putting off because it's too time consuming or expensive? Find a way to make it happen. You'll also be much more attractive to women if you're passionate about something outside of yourself.
posted by tomcooke at 12:26 PM on June 18, 2008

This page spells out a lot of it. The whole site is choc full of info, so I'd read it from time to time and keep it in the back of your mind. You might also want to check this out to build up on people skills.

I would advise against a prostitute, instead opt for internet personal ads (craigslist etc) and local personal ads to try to find others. Only use a prostitute if that falls through.
posted by hellojed at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2008

Having a prostitute isn't really sex; it's more like mastrubation with a second. It isn't very satisfying. Plus it's risky. Try to hook up with someone through craigslist, maybe, as hellojed suggests.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2008

I think jasper411 has it: when you catch yourself thinking about it in a scenario where it's not obviously warranted make it an act of will to distract yourself. Think about sports, dancing bunnies, trolls sitting in a row (don't ask), anything until your attention wanders to something that isn't sex. The critical thing is catching yourself starting to think about it and making the effort to redirect your thoughts, not so much the actual success of not thinking about it.

Neurons that fire together wire together, you're training yourself to think about sex by rewarding yourself when you do. It's biology and you can control it.
posted by Skorgu at 12:38 PM on June 18, 2008

You sound like you're involuntarily celibate. So you might find this incel support forum helpful.
posted by xchmp at 12:44 PM on June 18, 2008

I think the biggest problem is that you "hate that I do it." Let go of the shame. Thinking about sex is a natural and normal thing to do most of the time.

However, if you are thinking about sex when you should be doing other things (working on a project with a tight deadline, for example), to the point where you are unable to function, Skorgu and hasper411 have the right idea: find a way to distract yourself.

Having sex is more than a physical urge, and though it is likely your hormones that are heating up to boiling point just now, sex with a prostitute will be less than satisfying emotionally, especially since you are already feeling ashamed for just thinking about sex.

All I can practically suggest is that you broaden your circle of acquaintances. Try to get out and meet more women! Be careful not to come across as only interested in finding a sexual partner, or you will not make much progress with any woman you meet, though.
posted by misha at 12:51 PM on June 18, 2008

Graham crackers and cold showers don't help?

Look, you're probably on the high side of normal, but still normal. The casual encounters advice is pretty good, especially if you toss up a note that you're a virgin (or toss up two ads, one that mentions it, one that doesn't, and see which gets more responses. Just don't keep telling chicks that you're a virgin after you've had sex, because that's skeezy).

If this all doesn't work, you may want to avail yourself of a sex therapist.
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on June 18, 2008

I'm a bit older than you, married with a very active sex life, and I think about sex at least as much as you describe. I think some people are just more sexual; it's the way you are, rather than something that is broken and needs to be fixed. There are people who don't like having sex and don't think about it much, but I don't think there is a way to magically become that kind of person (though there may be medications that have that result as a side effect).

Now, if it is to the point of being an obsession, and is interfering with normal things like brushing your teeth and getting to work most days of the week, then you have an issue that needs to be discussed with a mental health professional. And if you are full of negative feelings about yourself, and feel really down, then you would almost certainly benefit from talking with someone (therapist, counselor, shrink, whatever), although the result of that is unlikely to be a reduction in how much you think about sex.

Personally I think you should take a trip to Nevada (or somewhere else where prostitution is legal -- no need to get arrested on your first time). Pay the money, have sex once or twice or five times, and then you can start worrying about something else (like finding a girlfriend), rather than this "technical virgin" stuff. People have been using sex workers as a way to take care of their de-virginating for thousands of years. There's a reason -- it takes a lot of tension out of the experience, and lets you work on the mechanics of the experience separate from the complications of a relationship. All the cool people here on MeFi will say "Dude, no way! That's wrong!" but the truth is that there are a lot of practical reasons (over and above exploitation, victimization, and other unsavory aspects of the business) for the popularity and availability of prostitution. Patronizing a sex worker (who is adult, consenting, well-treated, uses protection, etc) does not make you a bad person, a loser, or anything like that -- it makes you just like millions of other men (and quite a few women) who prefer to at times pay for a professional service to meet their needs.

And the result of that will be, of course, that you will think about sex at least as much as you do now, and that's ok. Having sex won't stop the sexual thoughts. But it will provide some context for those thoughts, and perhaps provide you with a foundation from which you can move forward and build a life in the way that you want.
posted by Forktine at 12:53 PM on June 18, 2008

Let's assume that someday you will be in a healthy relationship. I hate to be judgemental, but lots of enlightened women, with which you might want to have a future relationship, will think lower of you for a.) being so desperate as to have to pay for sex, and more importantly, b.) helping support such an exploitative, demeaning and depressing industry. Are the circumstances surrounding the loss of your virginity something you're willing to keep a secret forever?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:23 PM on June 18, 2008

By which I mean to say, I think you'll regret losing your virginity to a sad addict in a brothel.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't think a healthy 29 year-old can *stop* as in *eliminate* an interest in sex.

However, there's some things I think people can do to check their interest at a balanced level to where it's not a distraction from other things important to you.

The biggest one sure your other needs are met and sex isn't becoming a proxy for something else. I think Goofyy's right on with this:

The need and drive for sex obscures another need, and that is for affection, the need to touch and be touched by another human being.

I also think it isn't just touch. There's all kinds of other needs which can become proxies for other needs. Ever eat too much when you're tired, and what you really need is sleep?

So look over your life. What's missing? Where are you getting your hugs? Are you getting enough sleep? Drinking enough water? Is your diet good? Exercise? Do you have buddies you enjoy doing things with? Do you have a good work and recreation balance? Activities that feel meaningful to you? Fill your tank in these areas and it'll decrease any "proxy" component of other desires.

This isn't just about what's missing. It's about general balance, and it's mostly just common sense stuff most of us know we should be doing anyway, so it can't hurt to try it.

Some people believe in cultivating control over their sensual appetites in general. I'm more or less of the opinion that most sustained ascetic efforts can run counter to the above, but I think it help on a temporary basis. For example, I've sometimes found that short fasts can improve my general self-discipline (I'm not just talking about thinkin' 'bout women, but even hitting reload on Metafilter too much). And by the same token, I sometimes find that an indulgent and completely undisciplined sleep schedule doesn't help me with this at all (on the other hand, Ben Franklin's advice often yields tired and crazy mornings for me, so MMV).

Pick something else to obsess about. Music? Study of history? Develop a passion for something outside yourself.

Yeah, and I think this is the flip side of curbing your sensual appetites in general -- cultivate other ones, "refined" ones for lack of a better word. Gives you something else to do, at any rate.

You could argue music is sensual, and I think that's partially correct, but my own theory is that it cuts across a lot of human experience/capability, so it's more of a "whole" experience than a lot of things. Whole experiences are great for the kind of balance I'm trying to get at here.

Flip side again, though (because this is about balance, not asceticism): there's such a variety of textures to sensual experience, and there are a lot of them that are subtle, and I think cultivating those is worth it too. I'm talking about the feeling of being barefoot on spring grass after you've been serious and shoed for a while, about swimming and then letting yourself dry off in the breeze and the sun, about stopping and smelling the roses or lilacs. Maybe even growing some in your yard or flat.

I know men who have sex regularly and are still as obsessed as you are.


Lots of things grow as you feed them and give them more space. Goldfish and sexual appetites seem to me to be among them. You don't want to kill the goldfish, but you may want to keep them the appropriate size for the aquarium you've got until you get the one you want.
posted by weston at 1:28 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Dude, sex is awesome and there's nothing wrong with it being on your mind a lot of the time, and there's nothing wrong with wanking yourself senseless on weekends either. But as much as we might admire the feminine form (not because we are filthy lechers, but because we are biologically programmed to do so), that ogling women in the street thing might get you into trouble.

Having said that, if I can get laid, so can you. It will come along eventually. Don't stress it (easier said than done, I know).
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:47 PM on June 18, 2008

A slight step sideways, anonymous. If you're masturbating daily, and thrice daily on weekends, you're possibly teaching your body how to never enjoy actual sex.

Don't choke it.
Don't squeeze tight.
Don't move your hand faster than your hips could move your penis during intercourse.

A vagina is much different than a hand.

You're normal. As said above, put aside the pron for a while, and take a larger interest in the world around you. Get out of your rut. (heh.. rut.. sorry)
posted by reflecked at 4:24 PM on June 18, 2008

By which I mean to say, I think you'll regret losing your virginity to a sad addict in a brothel.

lo-carb, i think it is a rude assumption to think that all sex workers in a brothel are 1. sad 2. addicts. some people like their jobs.
posted by gnutron at 6:21 PM on June 18, 2008

FWIW, I think your behavior is entirely normal. Indeed, if you were not seeing someone and not rubbing one out on a pretty regular basis, I'd say you were missing a great opportunity. Unlike some, I agree with your sense that this is reinforced by your virginity -- you probably feel a lot of curiosity and also like there's a ticket you urgently need to punch.

But as to your question, if we put to one side the hooker option -- because you can't bring yourself to do that -- color me skeptical that taking up gardening will do the trick. So far as masturbating goes, I do agree that you can make some progress in breaking the habit (there is, he says mysteriously, some benefit to increasing the intervals). I do not think there's going to be too much that will keep you from thinking about sex . . . and that if you are, just think of it like being hungry. Not your fault; you can affect it by eating too little, or eating too much, or eating junk food, but you can't just ignore it altogether.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:20 PM on June 18, 2008

This American Life had a piece about this recently on a show titled "10 Commandments."
posted by salvia at 8:33 PM on June 20, 2008

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