On April 5, 2014, Rory Patrick announced to his Twitter followers that he was going to stop masturbating for 100 days. Soon, a hashtag was started: #Rory100. Friends and supporters cheered him on, sent him messages of encouragement as well as sheer amazement, and naturally some messages of confusion. As soon as I heard about this personal challenge I started thinking, Could I ever do this? Could I possibly go over three months without masturbating? Not even once? No. None of us can. It's horrifying. Terrible. What the hell was he thinking?
Interestingly enough, a growing number of men are choosing to do exactly what he did. They call themselves "Nofappers" and "Fapstonauts," which really just sounds like people who jerk off in zero gravity. This community of mostly men takes not jerking off quite seriously. According to Nofap.org (yes, this is real), the reasons for refraining from personal gratification vary, but the ultimate result is supposedly a better you. Some want to wean themselves off of porn addictions, which in turn will give their computer much more hard-drive space. The movement also boasts that you'll have increased self-control, more time on your hands (now that your hands are free), and an overall improved attitude.
"Many nofappers described increased happiness throughout their lives, especially in their attitudes towards sex and interpersonal relationships," claims to Nofap's About page. The community has become strong enough to have its own terminology. Most of the terms sound like things a Redditor rambles in his sleep after a night of drinking one too many beers, like "Blue Petal," the female equivalent of blue balls. This makes perfect sense however, since the organization was started because of a Reddit thread. A user posted a statistic on the "Today I Learned" subreddit, claiming that men who abstain from masturbating for 7 days increase their testosterone levels by more than 45%. From there, the idea of a "no masturbation challenge" came about.
Rory Patrick, however, was unaware of the Nofap community when he started this. He took this mission on for himself, and rather than engage with the Fapstronauts, he tweeted frequently about his progress to his followers. On July 13, this masochistic endeavor at last came to an end. I could finally talk to him about it, and find out whether the benefits of not masturbating are real, without having to try for myself.
VICE: So obviously I have to know why. Why did you do this to yourself, and why 100 days? One hundred days, dude. Why? WHY?
Rory Patrick: I'd just noticed how jerking off had altered the trajectory of my day-to-day life. For instance, sometimes I'd planned to go to the gym or go on a run, and then I'd say to myself, "OK, you're going to run, so let's have a nice moment to yourself before that." After masturbating, though, I'd find myself curled up in my bed watching television with a bag of chips instead of actually running. Coming was also my primary coping strategy for stress or pain, and that just didn't seem healthy at all. So when a friend of mine was talking about a group of people that were going without for 90 days, I just competitively reacted, saying that I could do 100 days. I just hoped that the challenge would give me the impetus to be cum-free for a while.
So you made the decision and then charted your 100 days with a hashtag on Twitter. What has support been like?
It has been heartwarming. The Twitter community can be so overwhelmingly positive and supportive. My friend Josh and I started taking pictures of ourselves doing that salute from The Hunger Games and people caught on and would take pictures of themselves doing the salute with the hashtag. It let me know people were thinking about me and kept me honest, because it seemed like people were having fun with it. I didn't want to ruin it one night because I was stressed about work and needed to rub one out. You had some people that asked every week if I'd come yet and some others that would intermittently send me nudes to try and tempt me into succumbing to coming, but generally people were just behind me and hoping I lasted the 100 days.
How often did you masturbate before doing this?
Daily. On average, daily. As I said before, it ended up being necessary because I could tell that every time I was stressed, I'd feel this urgency to get back to my room and jack off or be intimate with someone. My sleep routine was also connected to coming. Coming before sleeping at some point became a habit. I probably should have a more diverse range of coping skills to deal with life's curveballs than draining my own balls.
When was it the hardest? Were there specific days you can recall where you came close to giving up? How did you resist temptation?
The first four days were hell, and it was apparent how much coming helped me get through life on a day-to-day basis. I just had a routine of coming before sleeping. My routine at first was still built around trying to come and go to sleep. When I started, I'd still watch a little porn and then go to sleep without touching myself. Sleeping was impossible. I was rolling around all night, trying to put together like 3 hours of rest at a time. I tried everything from sleeping pills to food-coma-ing myself, and I'd still struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep.
The one day the whole challenge was in danger was after some Twitter people had come in from out of town. We got very drunk, and sometimes after drinking heavily, I'll get severe anxiety the next day. I remember it specifically being day 86, because I said to myself, "It's OK, you did 86 days. Not many people could've done 86 days," with my cock in my hands, ready to start jerking off. After a lot of breathing, though, my friend texted me back (I'd texted a bunch of people, but it was the middle of the night), and was supportive, and it gave me the boost I needed to just get up and take a shower and shake it off.
So this no jerk-off rule, did this also include no sex?
No coming at all. So I couldn't masturbate or have sex to completion.
How did it affect your mood?
After those first four days, things were pretty great. I used coming time to run and exercise. I felt more eloquent. I work in suicide prevention and was aware that I was connecting with people better and was listening with greater concentration. I was writing a lot more than before and taking time to read. It's upsetting to think that all those activities before were mostly me just feeling like, Hey, I've got 20 minutes free here, maybe I should see if there's any good porn up, which there always is.
Once the 100th day came to a full completion, how long did it take for you to jerk off again? Did you do anything special to prepare for the big event?
The last day was great. It was the World Cup final, so I watched that with a friend. After he left, I worked out and cleaned up the house. I took the time to shave, trim, and clip my whole body to prepare myself for myself. I went on a bike ride to kill some time, and then, when the clock was nearing midnight, I met some of my friends for some drinks. My roommate and one of my closest confidants had promised to leave the house, so I could be as loud as I needed to be. I tweeted out some thanks, and when the the time came, I was naked and really enjoying myself once again. It only took a few minutes, and the finish was spectacular.
I remember shaking deeply in my core like I hadn't felt before, and then I proceeded to finish all over my chest with a fury I haven't felt since I was in middle school. The orgasm reverberated throughout the room for at least 20 minutes. I tweeted out a pic of me smiling and then logged off for a while. I haven't been jacking off ceaselessly since day 100, but I also haven't been a stranger to myself. It was a needed 100 days. I'm more aware of why I need to come now than I was before. That's important. I missed it, though, and I'm glad it's back.
Now what are your masturbation plans? Back to old-school you, or are you switching things up?
It was a beautiful last couple of days before hand. Everyone online was shouting support out and not coming with me in celebration of the end of the journey. But I'm not going to just go crazy on myself. I'm treating it like a juice fast. I'm going to try and keep myself from myself and maintain the habits I've built up over the last 100 days. So if stress or anxiety hits, I don't just jump under the covers or text someone to hang out. I'd like to greet those moments with something a bit healthier. My apartment has never been cleaner, and my body has been getting a bunch of use outside of my cock for the last 100 days, and my hope is that continues.
So would you do this again, or what?
Yes, definitely. I will be doing it again, to be honest.
Follow Alison Stevenson on Twitter.