You want to ask out someone you recently met? Masturbate first, then see if you still want to spend six hours wining, dining, and entertaining her, desperate for an outcome that’s not only going to disappoint you if it doesn’t occur, but may even disappoint you if it does.
You want to call an escort? Masturbate first, then see if you really want some junkie who looks nothing like her decade-old Photoshopped images to give you a lazy hand job.
You want to call a former fuck buddy? Masturbate first, then see if you still want to invite her over, have sex that isn’t as good as you remembered, then spend the rest of the night figuring out how to politely get rid of her without hurting her feelings.
Masturbate when you want to break the rules of your relationship or your celibacy agreement—and you’ll soon discover that once your desires are fulfilled in your imagination, the need to live them out in real life suddenly doesn’t seem so urgent. Once the brain’s reward center has gotten its hit of dopamine, it doesn’t need another one—at least not for a little while.
They say that viewing porn correlates with depression. I’m not sure whether it’s a cause or a symptom, but now I understand why it’s so appealing: It’s not just a world where sex is easy, but also where sex doesn’t involve dealing with someone’s emotions before, during, and after the experience.
She doesn’t yell at you if you aren’t faithful and you start watching another porn clip. She doesn’t shame you for your taste in women, your fetishes, your performance, or your body, income, and faults—unless being shamed happens to turn you on, in which case she’s glad to do it all night. And she doesn’t mind if you come before it’s done, then roll over and go to sleep and never talk to her again. It’s just instant sexual gratification with no waiting, no rejection, no emotion, no commitment, no obligation whatsoever—plus infinite variety.
The strict sexaholics and sex addiction therapists definitely wouldn’t agree with the jerk-off solution, and it’s delaying my entry into the pleasureless world of anhedonia, but it serves its purpose as a Band-Aid keeping me faithful to myself and my promise to Lorraine before seeing her again.
The only problem is that after the orgasm, I’m still stuck with myself—and my mistakes. I think about Ingrid’s footsteps clomping outside the front door, her mocking shouts of freedom, the glee she took in blocking my path when I tried to enter a room, and the warmth of her body, heart, and spirit. All she tried to do was bring joy and laughter into my life. And in return, I gave her the best of what I had to offer: resentment.
One lonely evening, after my porn pity party, I bring a stack of unopened mail and random bills to the bed. That’s when I come across Ingrid’s wedding invitation again.
Perhaps it’s time to come to terms with her marriage and move on to the last stage of grief, acceptance. I turn the envelope nervously in my hands for a few moments, wondering if she’s marrying the James Dean–on–steroids guy. Then I slide an index finger along the flap, my heart thudding loudly, my body bracing for the shock.