[Foreword: all excerpts of e-mail published in this post have been published with the express permission of authors, to which I am very grateful.]
This post is dedicated to those guys who for various reasons have never had the experience of masturbation. It happens to me sometimes to talk in chat with guys who have no experience of voluntary physical sexuality but know the physiological manifestations of sexuality exclusively through nocturnal emissions lived also as something unseemly and dirt. These guys appear on a personal level as characterized by a substantial indifference to physical sexuality and are encouraged to consider physical sexuality like an expression of a defect or lack of control over themselves.
For these guys the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality, in fact, is not very significant because upstream lacks a realistic perception of sexuality. It should be pointed out that often these guys are not teens but young adults between 20 and 30 years which seem at first sight entirely refractory to sexual impulses that their peers consider essential. Clearly, when these guys try to build relationships with other guys or girls, their conception only theoretical and potentially negative of the sexuality makes them look strange in the eyes of others, they are considered as dreamers far from reality, romantic or less politely as people outside the world. Clearly, the lack of a real dialogue on content related to sexual life puts these guys in a state of isolation and marginalization.
Their emotional life without real sexual involvement can be adapted to a life of formal relationships but prevents them from establishing contacts in which affectivity and sexuality are both present in an essential way. In general, these guys do not feel embarrassed to talk about sexual content because for them this is something entirely theoretical. The impossibility of living a substantial physical sexuality in the first person is associated with a very strong emotional dimension, made of tenderness, requests for attention and looking for an important loving presence. Masturbation is considered by these guys as something very negative in terms of vice and the same goes for the couple sexuality in all its forms. It lacks, at least in appearance, any sexual desire.
What is needed here is a reflection on a fundamental moment of adolescence that is the discovery of masturbation. Too often the role of masturbation is trivializes considering it a kind of erotic game end in itself, in reality there is nothing to trivialize because the masturbation leads to the discovery of a desired physical sexuality in relation to a series of sexual fantasies. The association of mental sexual fantasies and physical sexuality is really achieved through masturbation. Sexuality is structured not as a purely physiological phenomenon but as a complex psycho-physiological phenomenon, in which a physiological reaction follows even the only appearance of a sexual fantasy.
The dimension of the sexual pleasure experienced through masturbation, gives a very strong psychic weight to erection and orgasm because connects these things with a projective fantasy directed towards other people. The masturbatory fantasies are usually so fundamental and independent of social conditionings that, beyond the couple behavior, a guy is considered gay if he masturbates constantly fantasizing about other guys.
Masturbation creates and consolidates the so-called sexual archetypes that set the physical types of the guys or girls and situations that for a guy can be highly engaging in sexual level in adult life. A guy doesn’t fall in love with any guy or any girl but only with those that match significantly to his archetypes and we can add that certain situations that are sexually exciting to some are not to others because do not correspond to their archetypes. Years ago, when it was very difficult for guys to access information about sexuality and masturbation was a taboo that was never discussed, the discovery of masturbation was done independently and randomly in the great majority of cases, today, with the fall of many sexual taboos and the spread of pornography even among the youngest boys, the discovery of masturbation is very often the result of an experiment by imitation externally induced. The fact is that masturbation plays certainly a key role in the structuring of adult sexuality.
I should add that, contrary to what is said, masturbation is not something that purely or predominantly belongs to adolescent guys but accompanies a person throughout life and lives normally with the couple sexuality, indeed many diseases of couple relationships are made evident from the fact that one partner masturbates with fantasies outside the couple or if the couple is heterosexual, with homosexual fantasies. When there is no masturbation the perception of sexuality is often altered and reductive, and this fact causes significant consequences.
What can prevent a boy to get to the discovery of masturbation? The possible answers to this question are two: first, the physical impediments, such as hypersensitivity of the glans, which makes penis handling particularly painful and therefore discourages or prevents entirely from the beginning any form of sexual exploration, second psychological barriers strongly internalized. It should be kept in mind that usually some type of physical impediments tend to be less limiting with the passing of years because, for example, the hypersensitivity of the glans generally decreases with age and this implies that some guys may arrive too late to discover masturbation.
Add that since in general the hypersensitivity of the glans tends to decrease very gradually, in these cases the discovery of masturbation is not entirely without problems because masturbation can cause pain or however require techniques that avoid the rubbing of the glans. In these cases, in general, the first impressions that the boys derive from the new experience are not entirely pleasant and usually masturbation is considered an exclusively physical experience, completely independent of emotional involvement because of the lack of upstream experience of falling in love sexually experienced through masturbation, which are the fundamental element of adolescence.
In practice, during adolescence guys learn to associate sexuality and affectivity through masturbation linked to falling in love, the so-called emotional masturbation. For guys now over 20 y. o., since they haven’t lived the typical experiences of adolescence, the association between affectivity and sexuality is not automatic, but looks like something absolutely not obvious. We can say that the belated discovery of masturbation leads to a delayed adolescence, that is to live the experiences of association of masturbation and affection in the adult age.
It is a delicate moment of the emotional and sexual evolution of a guy but if he doesn’t experience forms of rejection of sexuality, the so-called delayed adolescence is resolved in about 12/18 months in which the frequency of masturbation increases progressively and take place the first associations between sexual fantasies and masturbation. For a while affectivity and sexuality can seem still separate realities but with the passing of the months affectivity and sexuality are integrated more and more and eventually reach the full integration of the two spheres and the guy overcomes the delayed adolescence in a typical adult sexuality, i. e. on affective base. Very different and I would say also more complex is the situation of the guys who do not have physical impediments to masturbation but have never practiced it for other reasons. I emphasize that I do not mean the guys who have engaged in masturbation but then voluntarily abstained from it but just the guys who have never practiced it.
Let’s put aside for now the situations in which there may be non-mechanical physical problems (as in the case of hypersensitivity of the glans), but hormonal ones and let us pause to consider the guys who have had a normal sexual development, or who have nocturnal periodic emissions, sign of normal physiological functioning of the reproductive organs and let’s focus on the situations in which the non-discovery of masturbation has psychological or environmental reasons. In these situations it’s certainly impossible to assume that the obstacles will disappear by themselves. Some things should be kept in mind: these guys live in a situation of hardship and tend to close up more and more. The rejection of physical sexuality is understood almost as a personal characteristic and a moral value to which they should not give up but on the other hand these guys live a form of very strong emotional feeling, in lieu of sexuality.
It is from this last item, taken into account as something conscious, that can begin the discovery of physical sexuality in adulthood. In reality, these guys would need a very gradual approach to sexuality from their strong emotional dimension, which is certainly not easy to get. When these guys get courage and approach a guy or a girl are in front of a whole set of expectations and behaviors that are incomprehensible to them and even morally negative because in those behaviors they read a sexual purpose of which they do not understand the meaning. I quote here a passage from an e-mail where a guy explains the situation:
“There was a guy who looked like one as it should be, not one who says only stupid jokes and ambiguous, I tried to speak, but in the end I realized that he was like all the others, for him the meaning of the fact that we were friends was to tell me about his girl and wanted me to tell him about mine, which I never had, I did not know what to say and he was perplexed, I asked why he had given all this emphasis on sex and he told me that it was obvious, I told him that was not obvious to me, then he asked me if I liked girls and I said that I liked them but as friends, and then told me that I was gay but for him there was no problem, but I told him that I never had sexual gay fantasies and I liked being with a guy, but just as a friend, just as I was with him, then he began to look at me strangely and then asked me whom I think about when I masturbate but I told him that I do not masturbate at all nor I did before and I do not understand why people is obsessed by such things, and he was appalled. Then it was over with this guy obviously he was scared but I did not understand why.”
In another passage the same guy describes his first contact with a girl:
“I also tried with a girl, I was fine with her and she with me, We told each other many things, all on msn, we talked so much, she was very sweet and affectionate, at one point she asked me for a picture but I did not send it and at that point I think she was upset but she said I was doing well. We talked a lot, she told me that I was not like the other guys, that I was sweet and she was fine with me and that she wanted to be with me as long as possible. At a certain point, but after a long time, I asked her if she wanted to meet me and she was happy, I thought I had found a true friend as I wanted. We met, we talked, and then in the car she took me by the hand, it was a good thing, I liked it, then we kissed, at first I liked it, it was a sweet thing but then I didn’t like it any more, it seemed almost a play, like what you see in the movies, so I told her that I did not feel at ease and she said, “Why? What have I done? “I told her that I was not sexually interested in her because I don’t like girls who try to seduce me sexually. She started to cry, got out of the car and went away, then blocked my contact on msn and we did not contact anymore.”
These examples give an idea of the difficulties that these guys have to face. The guys or the girls who relate with them take it for granted that their vision of sexuality is just the same for everybody else but it is a wrong presumption. There would need a much softer approach in which the sexual dimension can be put aside for long periods so as to never appear aggressive.
I reproduce below an excerpt from an email sent by a guy who has discovered masturbation at 23 y. o. and with whom I had occasion to speak very often. That guy arrived at Gay Project on the presumption that his lack of interest in girls might arise from some sort of homosexuality. In reality it was a guy who had never had the experience of masturbation because of a very strict upbringing strongly internalized. After a few attempts, similar to those reported in the previous examples, he met a girl who was really in love with him, he was persuaded, after much hesitation, to speak clearly with that girl, he was afraid of getting another rejection but things went another way.
The relationship absolutely non-aggressive went on for months in an exclusively affective way but extremely serious. The guy lost his job and she always supported him. After about a year and a half, things have changed, the girl had to leave for work but somehow they were still together. They could meet only on Saturdays and Sundays. I reproduce below an extract of the email in which the guy tells me that he has solved the problem and has begun to understand the meaning of masturbation and sexuality.
“Hello Project, I think I got there, I think so. So tonight I have a dream about her, something tender, sweet, nice, I missed her like crazy, but it was a beautiful dream, this is the first time I make a sexual dream, nothing strange only sweet, caresses, kisses, things like that, but the fact is that I ejaculated in my dream and it was beautiful. It is the first time that a pollution seems to me a good thing. Anyway, it would be a lot but at this point you can imagine what follows, I did it! Somehow it seems to me a bit strange, however, is not at all repellent, in reality it is true that it is a way of loving a person! Project, you cannot imagine how happy I feel! I sent her a text message and told her, and she said she feels happier than me. What do you think? Will it last? I sure hope so. Honestly I feel a bit weird. Project, I might as well have a family, maybe my fantasy is running fast, I guess I’ll have to figure out a lot of things, I feel like a little boy who discovers a new world!”
Unfortunately situations similar to the one just described are not common. In essence, the sexuality in these situations must be conveyed through a profound emotional dimension. However, it is evident that when a guy living these situations puts apart the discouragement and accepts the risk to tell the truth the chances increase. Being overcome by fear leads to the rejection of social contact and to the refusal of deep emotional experiences. Overcoming fear is crucial.