Dear Harlan,

I have a personal question I’m hoping you can answer. I know it’s normal to masturbate, but is it normal to do it five times a day? I’m not sure if this would be considered too much. It doesn’t seem to be.

Hands Full

Dear Hands Full,

Let’s do the math — there are 24 hours in a day. If you sleep for seven hours a day, this leaves 17 hours a day to masturbate. Figure an hour for meals (you can’t masturbate and eat) and that leaves 16 hours. If you do it five times a day, that’s once every three hours and 12 minutes. As long as you’re not on a road trip with friends, on an international flight, or in an office with open cubicles, no one will know about your hobby. The question isn’t the number of times you do it — it’s why you’re doing it so often. There’s a reason you’re doing it beyond it feeling good and loving yourself. It could be to relieve anxiety, deal with stress or to avoid other uncomfortable feelings. It can become like a drug. I’d definitely talk to someone about this. Not just anyone — talk to your personal physician or talk to a therapist. Have someone help you answer questions like: Why do you do it so frequently? Why do you think it might be problem? Can you stop? How has this affected your relationships? Will it affect future relationships? Does it interfere with work or school? Have you broken any laws? Could this impact your job in the future (think sexting)? Sex in any form can turn into an addiction. Masturbating five times a day every day can a bit much. I’d find the answers and decide for yourself.

Dear Harlan,


I will be attending the University of Richmond in just under a month. When I enrolled, I had convinced myself that business was the right major and career path for me, but now I am beginning to doubt that. I feel that I may want to study engineering, except Richmond does not have an engineering school or major. What do you think I should do if my school can’t offer what I know want to pursue? Should I stick it out for a year?

Headed in Wrong Direction

Dear Wrong Direction,

If you’re 100 percent sure of your major, go where you plan to graduate. But who knows? You might decide you want to be a dancer. We all have dreams. Right? Just me? Then again, maybe you’ll discover you actually don’t love engineering. Unless you’re 100 percent sure you want to be an engineer, avoid the craziness of having to change schools this late in the game. Be a Spider (I’ve been to U of Richmond), but do two things before committing. Talk to an adviser on the phone at the campus you’re attending and at the engineering school that interests you. Find out what prerequisites to take and if they’ll transfer. Make sure you have all the information. You might find that the first two years won’t have a big impact on choosing a major. This way you can give Richmond a chance and figure out what you really want to do. You might find business works for you. You might still want to be an engineering major and add a business minor. Or you might realize you want to be a dance major.

Harlan is the author of “The Happiest Kid On Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child)” (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.

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