by Niall Doherty

First off, my apologies to whoever arrives at this post after doing a Google search for “kids pornography.” This isn’t what you were looking for 😛

Secondly, as the title suggests, I’ll be addressing some taboo subjects in this post, and venturing into TMI territory. Look away now if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable. Or if you happen to be my mother (lo siento, madre!).

Marriage

In a response to last week’s survey, someone asked if I ever saw myself getting married and having kids.

Can’t say I really believe in the marriage thing. I’m not a religious person, so to me, it doesn’t make much sense to have a priest confirm my commitment to someone. The only way I could ever see myself getting married would be for tax or immigration reasons. That is, if I was committed to a partner anyway, and getting married would make our lives easier in other ways, then yeah, I’d be okay with it. I’d prefer to skip the religious ceremony though and just get hitched at the registry office, unless of course the future Mrs. Doherty felt strongly about getting married in a church.

Right now, I’m in no hurry to settle down and commit to any one person. I very much enjoy having lots of time to myself, doing exactly what I want to do, not having to worry too much about a special lady friend.

Sounds a bit selfish, right? I concede that I am selfish in that regard. Finding a long-term partner is just not high on my list of priorities these days. I expect that will change at some point. Maybe after I live out my crazy round-the-world travel dream.

Kids

I don’t feel strongly about having my own kids, no real desire to go forth and sow my seed. As I see it, there are too many people on the planet. A friend of mine once told me that he believed couples should only ever have two kids, because then they’re just replacing themselves. But that’s only true if you die as soon as your kid is born. Otherwise, there’s a huge overlap.

That said, I would like to be a dad some day, going the adoption route. There are plenty of kids out there without parents, and I’m sure I could be a good influence on one or two of them, give them opportunities that they might never have otherwise. Plus, if I adopt a black kid, there’s a better chance he’ll make the NBA 😛

As with the marriage thing though, I’d be willing to reconsider the above if I find myself committed to a woman who feels strongly about having her own kids. I understand that carrying a child is a magical experience for a woman, and I wouldn’t begrudge her that.

Pornography

As noted, I’m not religious, but I have been known to do the Lent thing every so often. I see it as a good exercise in self-discipline. I may even try Ramadan some time for the same reason.

When I was younger, I used to give up things like chocolate for Lent. Back in 2006 I decided to give up eating altogether, allowing myself only tea and water for three days. And then two years ago, I tried giving up pornography for Lent.

Best. Decision. Ever.

See, I had a problem with porn. When I got that itch, I’d spend way too much time online, looking for a fix. And then I’d feel like a dirty, undisciplined pervert afterwards. So I gave it up for those 40 days two years ago, and never went back.

Not that I’m strictly opposed to pornography now. I haven’t turned into a complete prude or anything. But, as I originally wrote within A Course In Courage, here are three good reasons to give that stuff up:

  • Porn doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone. It’s too easy to stay home and get your porn fix instead of going out and interacting with real people. Rather than settling for images on a screen or in a glossy magazine, why not go out and find someone who can help make your fantasy a reality?
  • Pornography desensitizes you. Before you know it you’ve developed some kind of South American scraped knee fetish and can no longer get turned on by the knees of regular people. Or you start to believe that real sex involves faceless men and interchangeable women.
  • Most importantly: Pornography kills your imagination. There’s so much of it out there, catering for every possible desire, that you no longer have to conjure up sexy images in your head. And that’s a pity, because what your mind can imagine is far more powerful than what your eyes can see.

Masturbation

Last year for Lent, I decided to raise the stakes and go without orgasms for the duration. I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, so there was no problem on that side of things. The real challenge was to refrain from tickling the pickle. Methinks I’d never gone more than a week or two without a good old fiddle since I had that Eureka! moment back in my early teens.

But masturbation had always felt shameful to me. Perhaps it was the Catholic upbringing which led me to feel that way, or just Western society in general (in Ireland you never want to be labeled a wanker, and in the U.S. you hate being called a jerk-off). As comedian Des Bishop once observed, directing the words “you love yourself” at somebody in Ireland is intended as an insult. Somehow, some way, we came to believe that loving yourself was a bad thing.

So, as a bit of an experiment, I resolved to give up masturbation for Lent last year, and indeed I made it through the 40 days and 40 nights.

And I’ll NEVER do that again.

Seriously, bad idea to give it up. I regularly found myself feeling tense, needing that release. I now believe wet dreams exist as a fail safe in case we forget to jerk off, or do something silly like abstain on purpose. That stuff needs to come out of you, one way or the other.

The other bad thing about giving up masturbation was that I found myself becoming more and more desperate for female attention and approval, like I had an increased need for that external validation. In his book Radical Honesty (affiliate link), Brad Blanton suggests that couples try masturbating in front of each other. The idea is to demonstrate that you’re not with the other person simply to satisfy your sexual desires, to get that release — because, hey look! You can take care of yourself!

That’s not to say that masturbation is as good as sex — not by a long shot — but it does take that edge off when needed so you can stop being so distracted by female shapes and, you know, do other stuff.