Uni life is all about making sacrifices. We find ourselves giving things up in order to make ends meet. This month, James Haydon tries life without masturbating.

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I don’t consciously masturbate. That’s not to say that I’m not aware I’m mid-jerk, in a ‘why is everybody staring at me on the train OH GOD it’s happening again!’ kind of way, but that I don’t plan for it. Not like say, sex. Sex (when you’re not in a relationship) requires a degree of forethought and organisation (Is this person into me? Where can we do it? Should I do something about the fact that I feel I’m too fat/hairy/short/tall/awkward/insert other insecurity here). Masturbation is just routine. Shower, brush teeth, jump into bed, wank, sleep. Not every day, but more often than not.

That’s the beauty of it; there’s no need to worry about somebody else. Are they liking that? Should I shift positions now or try and ride this out? Why didn’t I train my core muscles more!? Anybody who has sex without feeling at least a bit distracted by the responsibility of making sure the other person gets off the requisite number of times is either not taking it seriously enough or is blessed with a mind that worries much less than mine.

Even so, when my editor told me that for this article I was giving up keeping Kleenex in business, I wasn’t too concerned. This would surely be much easier than the hell she’d put me through last time, giving up carbs. I was, as usual, wrong. In the words of German scholar, Rob Thomas, “some things you don’t need until they leave you. And they’re the things that you miss.” Many guys, particularly in these situations, have very exciting dreams where their brain kicks in while they’re asleep and does the job for them. I have never had one of these. Ever. Perhaps it’s some trick of genetics, but they’ve just never popped up and I always felt a bit left out. So yes, whilst I was not struggling with subconscious hallucinatory dilemmas of whether I should do Emmas Watson and Stone separately or at the same time, I was fielding dreams of a much more strange nature. One involved Marilyn Monroe, a lady I know next to nothing about aside from the fact she was an actress and probably shagged JFK. So here I am, having a dream involving arguably one of the greatest sex symbols of all time, and what do we do? Go grocery shopping. The least erotic thing possible. There wasn’t even the implication that we were dating, or that she might slip on a broken bottle of pasta sauce and I would come to her rescue, a knight in shining armour wielding green enviro bags.

But while the potentially exciting was mundane, the mundane was potentially exciting. Definitely a good idea to stay away from pairs of upturned bowls, movie sex scenes and anything on SBS after 8:30. I was helped through the experience due to a rather major loophole: whilst I wasn’t allowed to get myself off, there was no rule against outside help (I’m not sure whether this was due to my editor realising I’d probably fold, or because she has absolutely no faith in my ability to pick up, and I’m not sure which is more offensive). Through good fortune, help arrived in the form of a successful date right in the middle of my ordeal, though I thought it wise not to tell her about the situation, lest she think I was only going out with her due to desperation. I can give you one positive at least— not doing it yourself for a while makes it a whole lot better when someone else does. It was exhausting in all the wrong ways, but I made it through the two weeks without succumbing to temptation. Will I give up for good? Hell no. But I now appreciate it a whole lot more. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.