Imagine hitting the bathroom at work on a quiet afternoon. You hear the soft shuffling of feet and the awkward "get the hell out of here" cough coming from the handicapped stall. So you do what any respectful human being would do: Hurry up and let the man do his business in private. The thing is, there's a chance Sparky in Stall 3 isn't just trying to finish a crap in peace. He might be doing his best to get ahead—by getting off.
"I have all these hotties running around my office," says Jimmy, a 30-year-old who works in advertising in New York. "I can get hard at the whiff of perfume. Sometimes I need to rub one out so I can actually do my work."
The modern workplace is, of course, a minefield of sexual tension. A recent Randstad study on office flirtation showed that 41 percent of men admit to flirting with coworkers, and 12 percent have secret crushes on someone they work with. And while Jimmy's method of relieving that pressure may seem extreme, it's highly effective.
"Masturbation is essentially a tension reliever, and if you find yourself too horny and distracted at work, relieving yourself will alleviate that," says Dr. Neil S. Kaye, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Jefferson Medical College, in Philadelphia.
And it's not just the intern in the low-cut blouse getting guys overheated—arguing with peers over a project can do it. "Stressful situations also produce arousal," says Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and the author of She Comes First. "So a man might get yelled at by his boss or have a huge deadline, and he'll find he just has to masturbate."
But before you head to the men's room with a decoy copy of The Economist, be warned: Spanking it at work is as risky as it sounds.
"You do not want to get caught," says Brian, a 30-year-old production assistant in New York who masturbates at the office two to three times a week. "I always go into the biggest stall because I'm pretending I'm taking a dump. And I sneak in a bottle of lotion to speed things up." He then quietly rubs one out in about five minutes. And if someone comes into the bathroom mid-tug? "I just wait for them to leave."
James, 44, a media executive in New York, once had to confront a subordinate he knew was beating off in the bathroom. "He broke down and said it was because he was so stressed out that it was the only way he could get through the day," James says. "Everyone avoided the bathroom when he went in."
"Most offices would have a zero-tolerance policy," says Joanne James, a vice president at Best Headhunters, an online executive-search firm. Still, if you're too distracted to get anything done, the risks of the occasional work jerk may be worth it. "If it's going to allow you to do your job better, I say go for it," Kerner says. "You go to the bathroom, and whether you're going to urinate or defecate, it's a private act. So who's to say you can't go in there and bring yourself to orgasm?"