For years, men have been told that masturbating before a date will help them avoid their natural tendency to screw the whole thing up. This bit of dating folklore was made famous in a particularly cringeworthy scene from 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary.” In the film, Dom (Chris Eliot) coaches Ted (Ben Stiller) to rub one out before his big date with Mary (Cameron Diaz): “Look, the most honest moment in a man’s life are the few minutes after he’s blown his load – now that is a medical fact. And the reason for it is that you’re no longer trying to get laid, you’re actually… you’re thinking like a girl, and girls love that.”

Of course, the results for Ted are disastrous and gross, but what about in real life?

Does masturbation really get sex off the brain?

“I suppose it makes guys less horny or less likely to sprout a boner,” said dating writer Rachel Khona, “On a first date, it would be a little awkward if the guy got a boner, so if you’re prone to getting hard easily I would definitely wank off.”

I had always assumed, too, that getting one’s self off saps one’s desire for sex. But then I thought of instances when I’ve had sex two, three or even four times over the course of a day. While I usually need some time to recoup in between, orgasming once doesn’t actually take my mind off sex for the rest of the night. Almost ever.

I asked sexpert and author of the book “The Truth About Sex”, Dr. Gloria Brame, PhD, to set us straight.

“[Masturbation] does not interfere with performance, creatively or athletically. That’s like being afraid to do a few stretching exercises at home before you hit the gym. Sex drive is not that weak (and if it is, you need to see a doctor).”

So, while “pre-bating” might take your mind off sex in the immediate afterglow of orgasm, by the time you’re sitting face to face with your date, it’s not going to effect your desire for, preoccupation with or your ability to have sex.

Does masturbation make you less nervous?

While getting off before a date doesn’t necessarily take sex off the table, it may in fact, calm your pre-date nerves. If a date can be compared to public speaking, that is.

“A study in Scotland a few years ago proved that people who had orgasms before important speaking engagements felt much calmer and more self-possessed when it came to deliver their speeches,” said Dr. Brame, “Researchers concluded that the natural chemistry of sex relieved speakers’ anxiety and boosted their morale.”

So, according to horny Scottish orators anyway, a pre-date wank will not only combat the jitters, but it will make you more confident and grounded, too. According to Dr. Brame, it may even improve your performance if you get lucky.

“Not only does the masturbation help give you a better frame of mind, and reduce the pressure and anxiety of the date, but it can help you be in much better control of yourself when you are in bed.”

Is “Pre-Bating” just for men?

“Masturbation is natural, calming, and psychologically refreshing,” Dr. Brame explained. “It’s the most normal sex act in the world quite simply because EVERYONE does it.”

Everyone. Including women. 92% of women age 18-30, in fact, have been known to regularly fly solo, according to a 2020 study. Two thirds of them reported doing it three times a week.

Despite these facts, pre-bating has not been traditionally prescribed for women. It seems clear that achieving orgasm before a date might make a woman less anxious about the event, but can it function as a “first date sex deterrent” (i.e. not shaving your legs). With little research available on the subject, Rachel Khona decided to take matter into her own hands.

“Well since you asked, I decided to try it for the first time,” reported Khona, “Personally, it just made me more randy. It worked out well in my case. In fact, I might do it more often. Talk about getting in the mood!”

Living proof that a pre-date solo session won’t take your mind off sex, whether you’re a man or a woman. In fact, it may even get your more worked up.

Are there any possible drawbacks to pre-bating?

The drummer in my first band in college had a theory — he never jerked off before a show because he believed it was a waste of “creative juices” that would be put to better use on stage. That being the case, might pre-bating affect my creativity on a date? Will my conversation skills suffer? What about my sense of humor? I asked Dr. Brame if there was any validity to the drummer’s logic. Of course, there wasn’t.

“I think some of the [ideas about masturbation] are a bit more fear-based than fact-based. It’s a myth that you sap “creative juices” with masturbation,” Dr. Brame assured me “Remember, sex is in your brain. If you have anxieties about masturbation or fear that it will drain you, you’ll probably be so anxious you’ll fulfill your own prophecy.”

So, is masturbation beneficial… in general?

According to Dr. Brame, masturbation provides a cornucopia of emotional and health benefits, whether you have a date tonight or not.

“There are too many to list here but the two top reasons are: 1. Regular orgasm is proven to dramatically reduce an adult’s risks of heart attack, stroke, and some types of cancer. It also also helps prevent endometriosis in women. 2. Orgasm produces the best natural drugs in creation, making adults feel calmer, happier, and more bonded to their partners and families. It’s a natural stress-buster and depression-fighter.”

So, there you have it. While masturbation won’t pump the breaks on your sex drive, it can make you calmer, more confident, happier and healthier. Not bad for something that you’re probably doing already anyway, right?

Rachel Khona is a writer, performer and real-deal dating expert living in Brooklyn. She is currently working on her memoir about growing up wild-at-heart in a conservative Indian family, Tales of a Dot Head. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Facebook

Dr. Gloria Brame, PhD is a world-reknowned sex therapist and clinical sexicologist who offers non-judgmental, results-oriented counseling on all aspects of adult sexuality and relationships. Her new book, “The Truth About Sex: A Primer for the 21st Century” is available at