‘NoFap’ And Your Fetish
In this article, I’ll explore the reasons, benefits, and limitations of a popular internet movement – NoFap – in which men try not to masturbate for as long as possible. I’ll also explain why it appeals to you, how it’s linked to your fetish, and why you keep failing.
The Root of The Cuckold Fetish
The cuckold fetish, like many other fetishes, produces sexual pleasure from ‘subconscious inadequacy’, also known as ‘toxic shame’.
Toxic shame is essentially normal shame that has stopped functioning in a healthy way and has started to apply to ourselves. It is shame which has been internalized, transferred from the conscious to the subconscious, and has become a state of being.
When this happens, we lose our healthy sense of shame.
We feel shame when we make a mistake or act in a way that contradicts our values. Or, more simply, we feel shame when we do something ‘wrong’. Shame is there to help us to not make the same mistake twice. It’s an unpleasant feeling, and that acts as the deterrent to stop doing the same wrong thing again and again. It makes us feel bad, and so it should, because that’s what helps us to grow into better people. We want to avoid that bad feeling – that’s the drive that makes us want to stop making mistakes. Without shame, we would keep making mistakes forever with no drive to stop.
For example, if you’re carelessly playing around with a glass, and you drop it and it smashes, you might feel a tiny bit of shame. That’s a normal healthy thing to feel; that’s going to make you want to be more careful next time. You feel shame because you did something bad. Shame makes you take a long hard look at yourself and be more careful next time.
Shame Tells You Your Limits
If we start getting overconfident and carried away, when we make a mistake, shame is there to remind us that we have limits. And we do have limits – we all make mistakes. We are not God. We are only human, and to be human is to be limited. It is to be finite, needy, and prone to mistakes. We are not perfect; that is a guaranteed part of being human. Shame keeps us from making mistakes by trying to act more than human, as if we don’t make mistakes, as if we’re unlimited.
We feel shame to remind us of our limits. Without shame, we have no limits. This could lead to delusions of grandeur – thinking we can do anything, creating elaborate fictional fantasies of power/success/fame/glory. Perhaps you want to become president despite having no political experience, or become a famous writer without ever having written anything, or make a new scientific discovery out of your sheer unrecognised genius. Your daydreams will tell you a lot about your subconscious feelings.
A lack of shame leads to a lack of limits. When you are unlimited, you want all of these things and more; you end up with no clear direction, trying to move in all directions at once, wasting energy on things you cannot change. We might try to be the jack-of-all-trades, and end up as the master of none. Shame is what tells us our limits, and signals our direction. With healthy shame, we can use our energy more effectively, and not waste ourselves on goals we cannot reach or on things we cannot change.
Toxic shame – the root of the cuckold fetish – causes a lack of healthy shame. We lose our healthy sense of humanity and either feel sub-human (different from normal people, flawed, defective), or super-human (different in a good way, uniquely intelligent, destined for greatness), but never human. We lose our healthy sense of shame which keeps us grounded in humanity.
NoFap is a huge movement of men who try to abstain from masturbation. They claim a number of benefits to this – increased energy, increased mental clarity, better hormone levels, clearer skin, confidence, etc. When this is used for young single men to give them drive to get a girlfriend, it’s surely a positive thing, and these benefits seem to be true for most people. As a step to develop greater self-discipline, or to kick yourself out of a rut, it can also be great.
However, for those who consider sexual activity to be an imperfection, a waste of time, or a pointlessly hedonistic activity, it’s not a good thing; it’s a sign of a lack of healthy shame. Unless they replace masturbation with sex, they deny the fundamentally sexual nature of humanity and their need for sexual expression – they deny their limits and try to transcend them, somehow perpetually wondering why they keep failing.
To have a sex drive is a normal, healthy, human trait, and a fundamental human need. We all have sex drives, and we all need to fulfil our sexual desires. If you don’t value pleasure and would rather spend that time more productively, it doesn’t matter. You are limited. To deny that limitation is to lack healthy shame.
NoFap often comes from toxic shame.
You Are Human
Often, the problem is not masturbation itself but rather the guilt around masturbation. Coming from toxic shame, which creates a lack of healthy shame, they feel awful about something so simple and inconsequential, and unable to understand why they cannot permanently abstain from sexual pleasure (the answer is because it’s a universal human need!).
You will always be driven to masturbate, and that’s ok; even if you think it’s less than perfect to act that way, humans are less than perfect. The inability to accept imperfections is the hallmark of toxic shame. You will never be a god – you are only human. And your sex drive is one of the most basic human drives along with hunger and thirst. If you attempt to transcend your human needs to reach something ‘better’, just like carelessly throwing around glasses, at some point you’ll fail.
It’s like anorexia, but for sex. Denying your sex drive is akin to denying your hunger – it’s not good (and grounded in toxic shame).
There’s A Balance
It’s true that some people need to masturbate less, just as there are people who need to eat less. Masturbation can become an addiction, or it can become an unhealthy obsession and a coping mechanism in times of distress (just like food). Some people need to cut back on the amount they masturbate (more than once a day for men aged 18+ is worth a deeper investigation).
Some people want to replace masturbation with sex, and that’s totally fine – as long as you’re making sure that your sexual needs are being fulfilled.
Likewise, it’s also true that some people experience short term benefits. But, to repress and deny your sex drive and feel shame about it is wrong. Unmet needs are a complex interconnected cause of fetishes – beyond the scope of this article – but making sure that your needs are met is something I highly recommend, as well as learning that you have limits.
Some people attempt NoFap in the hopes that their fetish will go away. They think NoFap will change their fetish. There is only one study that I’m aware of about this, which found that ‘sexual sobriety from masturbation failed to control the pedophilic fantasies of pedophilic clients’ – so no, NoFap probably won’t change your sexual desires. (Brown, C. M., Traverso, G., & Federoff, J. P. (1996). Masturbation prohibition in sex offenders: A crossover study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25, 397408)
However, there is anecdotal evidence that abstinence from masturbation makes you more sensitive to softcore stimuli (it makes you horny). Some people who want to change their fetish may benefit from masturbating less, to increase their sex drive, so they can channel it into healthier avenues of pleasure.
However, trying to never masturbate is akin to trying to remove your sex drive. It’s essentially shaming one of the most basic parts of being human.
Abstinence is ok in order to cultivate a healthy sex life, but not ok if it’s used to deny a healthy sex life.
It’s ok to try to masturbate less, if masturbation is a problem for you. It’s not ok to try to never masturbate, and to repress your sexual energy.
In my online course, I talk a lot more about getting this balance right.