Masturbation Questions I Can't Find the Answer to


Since, my coming back to the faith a few years ago I have struggled off and on with masturbation and pornography. Thankfully through the sacraments, prayer, friends, and whatever other means of grace God has chosen, it is not the problem it once was. Sometimes it feels like a problem far from me, but others its a struggle I can’t seem to overcome. Recently, I have found the strength of will even in troubling moments to get to a better place, which gives me hope for subduing this enemy indefinitely one day soon. But that is when I am fully awake. When I am going to sleep, it is a different story.

Now i know there are things that happen at night that are out of my control. More or less natural processes. Night emmisions or whatever they are called. My problem is that when I am half asleep I will start masturbating. I can never remember the active decision to start, but given that it never happens when I dose off in public, i know my mind and will are involved even if dulled and even if i don’t remember. But as it goes on, I come back to consciousness and I have not yet found the strength to stop.

Any advice on this problem? I pray the Rosary, and the Angelic Warfare Confraternity prayers for chastity, and some of the Liturgy of the Hours. Or at least I try. The problem is definitely worse when I fail or forget to pray. But I want to make sure there isnt anything more I could be doing to address the problem more directly.

Second Question: While I have these problems, better and worse at times, here and “gone” at others, is dating an option? And if dating is an option, should I tell her that I have these problems at some point? If so, when?

If dating is not an option, at what point would I be in good enough condition to date again? How long should I wait to see if I have found the strength (in Christ always) to truly overcome these things, or if I am coasting on some divine consolations? What kind of failure would count as a relapse? What do I do if I fall after I have entered a relationship?

Thank you for any help you can give here. Or any resources you can point me to. But these two areas of thise issue have been vexing me for a long time.


I imagine the images that you’ve exposed yourself to are reappearing in some capacity at night. How to detox yourself is the question. Try playing some kind of soothing audio or video as you fall asleep. It could be a kids’ movie (e.g., Disney’s Robin Hood or Fantasia, the BBC Chronicles of Narnia), a musical, an oldie with a good classical musical score, a 50s sitcom (The Dick van **** Show), a religious show (the Rosary, the Mass). If you’re a heavy enough sleeper, consider putting it on repeat.

As far as dating goes, only date someone you think might eventually understand, and whom you really trust with your secret, and only tell her if and when you start forming a serious relationship. No need to tell her too early, but no need to tell her too late either. God bless!


I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t date, if you are interested in dating… I also don’t see any reason to bring up masturbation. That’s a topic that doesn’t need to be addressed. It’s not like you have to be completely up-front about everything in your life-- just read Proverbs. A lot is to be said for discretion.

If for some reason your love interest should bring up masturbation (perhaps their own problems, it’d be really strange to ask you about your problems), you could talk about it. What’s important is explaining why modesty, self-discipline, chastity and moderation are important to you. You don’t need to go into depth on masturbation.


I don’t know about your second question, but I’ll venture to answer your first one.

I have had the same problem, and to deal with it I listen to music literally all night, even if it makes it more difficult to go to sleep. Make sure to use headphones that don’t fall off if you’re using headphones. Try to listen to music that has words, preferably Christian/Catholic lyrics. If you wake up in the middle of the night, the music will be right there, blasting in your ears, to provide a quick distraction or “wake up” call. Technically, you don’t have to listen to music, but listen to something appropriate (like bbentrup recommends) that will last all night or you can put on repeat. TRY to listen carefully and intently to the lyrics, or words, or every little instrument and sound going on, pick them out one by one, analyze the music, try to imagine the scene in Narnia etc. Become conscious by listening to the music or whatever. If you mess up, keep trying. Try different methods, different things to listen to, until you find something that works. Don’t give up.


Have you ever seen those rough surfaced gloves for cleaning potatoes? :smiley:


Any advice on this problem? I pray the Rosary, and the Angelic Warfare Confraternity prayers for chastity, and some of the Liturgy of the Hours. Or at least I try. The problem is definitely worse when I fail or forget to pray. But I want to make sure there isnt anything more I could be doing to address the problem more directly.

Daily mass. Just make sure you’re in a state of grace when go to Communion. :yup:

Second Question: While I have these problems, better and worse at times, here and “gone” at others, is dating an option?

Yes. You cannot sit on your hands your whole life just in case you might sin. Your time is too valuable.

And if dating is an option, should I tell her that I have these problems at some point? If so, when?

That’s not a good idea. While I think a lot of women know that men can and do masturbate (women do it too, believe it or not), it’s really not something you’d want to be talking about with her… unless you knew her really well and were certain she would understand. I really think people like that are rare.

Don’t just tell women you date about this just because you feel guilty about it.

In my view, that is not enough. You’d only MAYBE want to tell her if you both were serious and you think she would want to help you rid the habit------ definitely do not tell a girl on a first date.

If she’s not attracted to you but just interested in getting to know you and you drop that bomb on here, I can pretty much guarantee she’ll find it disgusting—maybe even if she does it herself. :o

Despite the unfortunate sexualization of our society, it’s still a taboo topic.

You need to understand the way dating almost always works is that you don’t reveal everything all at once.

In fact, some priests will tell penitents who confess to having affairs NOT to tell their spouse.

If you really need to talk about your masturbation, that should be done with a Confessor or counselor, and** very unlikely** a prospective girlfriend.


Side note: On my first date with my (now) wife, I told her about my purity problems. The caveat is that she decided she wanted to start our relationship being open and honest with each other, and she began by sharing her own deepest shame. It worked out for me, but that’s because of the way she took the lead on the issue. While the others on here have given very good advice about when to, and when not to (if at all) tell her, I would say that every relationship is unique. But yeah, as a rule, it’s probably not something you will want to share until you get to know each other very well. Just think about the “weapon” she would have if your relationship went south.


It’s happened to me, much as you described it. The physical urge could be so great that I almost felt nauseated. Literally sick in my stomach. If you’re pushed to that point, it’s hard to believe that you’re responsible for your actions. And I’m not saying that facetiously or lightly.

I’ve never in my life had a nocturnal emission. As a child I was a bed-wetter, so my theory is that my brain stifles whatever might be happening down there when I’m asleep.

It’s not at all a pleasant experience.

As for dating: Yes. Do.

As for telling her: No. Not until you have a strong, trusting, matured relationship.


Whenever your conscience kicks in that something is wrong, you must make the right decision to stop. This can cause much pain and distress, but you can never give up the fight. Does this problem happen when you are spending the night with friends and family? If not, one option could be to never sleep alone. This is the worst case, but you must do it if you are to ever get to heaven.

I think dating is fine. If you fall in love with a woman, you might even have an easier time quitting. If you truly love her, you won’t hurt her by abusing your body. Take care with marriage though. Most Catholic marriages will involve a lot of abstinence. You will need the willpower to abstain for a week, two weeks, a month, maybe even more in some cases. I would not tell your date that you have this problem. Only if you are getting close to marriage and are still having trouble.


“When you are half asleep you start masturbating” Are you kidding me or yourself. I don’t believe a word you are saying. Whether you have stopped, I don’t know. But doing it you sleep come on really.


The man who only avoids the outward occasions of evil, but fails to uproot it in himself, will gain little advantage. Indeed, temptations will return upon him the sooner, and he will find himself in a worse state than before. Little by little and by patient endurance you will overcome them by God’s help, better than by your own violence and importunity. Seek regular advice in temptation, and never deal harshly with those who are tempted, but give them such encouragement as you would value yourself
The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 13


I used to have the same problem but they are long gone now.

It’s the will of the Lord for you to keep fighting it, and to develop virtue. if you do this (aquire holliness as time goes by), those temptations that happen in your sleep will drop off eventually.

I remember once when i was beginning to finally be free from it completely (the night temptations), when i found myself with little clothes on and awakened in the night (i was tempted) . . . It was so strange and surprising to me when it happened. I would say that was an attack from the devil.

tips: pray pray pray. and it’s good to pray right before you go to sleep (helps shut the gates of hell out of your life, according to DeSales saint).
fasting, at a level which isn’t too challenging. each friday. this does alot for the soul.
give yourself to God (chapter 2 on life in the spirit seminar, CCR, that chapter is on death to self?).
‘serve’ where you can. little deeds like keeping the house clean for others will help strengthen you. alongside prayer they’ll make you stronger

pray, hope, be a doer of the word. “seek the Kingdom and all else will be given you”


One issue that has not been addressed here is the fact that masturbation, and fantasizing can also be an addiction. And, like any other addiction, it can eventually take control of a persons life, just like dope, or alcohol, or any other addiction.
I know, I was married for fifty years to a woman who was a full blown addict by the time I met her at 17. One thing you have to remember about someone being an addict. That is, they also have to be a con artist. A good one.
In talking to my confessor about this situation, he informed me that for her, it may not even be a sin. A true addict loses the ability to say no. It’s automatic. So, it becomes a question of when will I have another opportunity, not whether you will do it again, or not.
I loved that woman with all my heart. Still do. And, believe me, it was hard to keep up the facade. She told me many times that I would find someone better, and leave her. That was the depth of her worthlessness. She thought she wasn’t wanted. That she was a change of life baby that was not planned for. She took it internally, and that became her version of herself. Masturbation was to her, loving herself.
I was lucky enough to be able to send her a priest when she was in the hospital. That, I believe saved her soul. And the devil has not let me forget it. He has been on my case ever since.
And, yes, no matter what others say, you can wake up in the middle of a “session”. I know, I, too, have been there. But, like you, I installed an alter at home, and as long as I am awake, and at home, that candle is burning.
I have also undergone the Marian Consecration. This is the devotion to the Blessed Mother where you give her everything, and let her run your life. It works. Believe me.
A great book you might want to read is the “Flame of Love”. This is a book that is actually a diary of a women who, for 20 years, talked to the Blessed Mother, and Christ as well.
Christ told this woman that His Mother’s “Flame of Love” is going to be as important to our generation as Noah’s ark was to his generation. To me, those are pretty strong words. Good luck with your situation. And yes, devotion to Mary through the rosary is one heck of powerful way to defeat the devil.
May Almighty God lead you every day.


Thanks for the advice everyone. I grew up with the idea of “complete honesty” with the person you are dating. Like everything. That first relationship was a mess, but the idea stayed with me. Its good to be reassured that while honesty is needed, there is also prudence and discretion. It makes sense in my head, but fear and guilt can make sense of most things. Its nice to have others to make sure I am thinking right and to keep me from being too scrupulous.

As for the problem itself. No, Rholder, I am not kidding anyone. Sometimes I have a vague recollection of starting. Others none. Some nights everything happens before I have cleared my thoughts enough to realize what I am doing. Others my thoughts are clear and I continue anyway. I am not fooling myself. I know when I have made a decision. And I have made many bad decisions. I can also tell you that my rationalizations for what I am doing are sometimes the nonsense of dreams. Some combination of minesweeper and battleship one night. I’m not kidding. It was a game. Now. I will also admit that to get to this point took some amount of weekening of the will and mind due to conscious waking lustful decisions. That I am culpable for. The current sleeping actions. It really depends on the night.

As for the rest of you. I shall continue to prayer and fasting seem to be the key. Gracious and Robert hit it on the head. I shall continue to develop virtue during the day and with God’s grace it will eventually bear fruit at night. My favorite dreams have always been when I am virtuous in dreams because I know there I can do whatever my mind takes me, yet it too me to virtue. Hopefully I will get there again soon. And I hope that virtue may flow into your dreams as well.

To anyone still struggling. Don’t give up until God gives up. God never gives up.
To all of you. Thank you for your help and support. I will pray for you (even you Rholder)


I may be a bit slow today, but what on earth does dating have to do with masturbation?


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