what is gooning? (image of a gooning cave)

What Is Gooning?

Here’s an explainer of what gooning is, why people do it, what some of the problems might be, and some sensible advice about it

To ‘Goon’ is to…

Gooning is, basically, having a really long and intensely pleasurable wank. This practice is not new, but we have another word for it now. See also tantric solo sex, edging, or prinding. 

People of all genders seem to do it, though it’s seems to be more of a discovery for guys with penises. This is probably because of the whole orgasm = ejaculation thing and that after ejaculation it’s often difficult for men to get aroused again. So for many, gooning involves masturbating for long periods of time without ejaculating, or orgasming. Gooning seems to result in people entering a trance, or hypnotic, or a ‘high’ state.

Gooners seem to like to do it in a ‘cave’. This might involve a darkened room, with a screen (or more than one screen), and some favourite masturbatory aids at hand. They might even chat to other gooners in online communities while they do it. This probably means that it’s probably people who have their own space and privacy. I imagine it might be quite hard to do if you live with parents / carers / siblings.

(Being a gooner doesn’t mean you’re an Arsenal fan btw. An Arsenal fan who likes gooning would be a double gooner.)

Why do people goon? 

Because it can be fun. When we’re having sexy times there’s a lot of activity going on in the brain. It’s the result of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems working in tandem . This results in a lot of the pleasure spots of the brain being activated. This includes the part of the brain that makes people feel high or that they are having an out of body experience. There’s more about this in this recent article about orgasms.

So it’s a bit like asking, ‘why do people like dancing / yoga / running / playing football for hours.’ People get a high feeling from lots of intense physical activity. But also combined with stimulating erotic fantasies and images, with the comfort of doing it in a ‘cave’, and even with other people, sounds like it could be pretty enjoyable.

Read more about the nervous system in my article about how to deal with stress.

What (else) might gooning do?

Spending this long masturbating means that gooners might get really ‘good’ at masturbating. So this means really getting to understand their bodies work but also how else they work. They perhaps might start to find having orgasms a bit easier, or notice the difference between orgasm and ejaculation. Perhaps they might find different ways to feel pleasure or different kinds of pleasure. Listening to ourselves in this way (breathing, noises, sensations, thoughts, feelings) might start to reveal whole other ways of connecting with our sexual selves. 

People in gooning communities also seem to find that new parts of their sexuality emerges. For example, finding different bodies, or genders, or scenarios, sexier, or more exciting, or more them. It’s not that gooning found something inside them that was always there. Spending all that time with porn, their bodies and fantasies and desires (and sometimes their friends), gives more time and space for new things to emerge. It doesn’t have to mean anything, but it can just be fun / exciting to see what continues to emerge.

It may start to change their relationship to partner sex too. Their sexual responses might change a bit, or different things might turn them on. 

See also how to really enjoy solo sex.

What might be the problems (and how can gooners avoid them)

Sex, masturbation, and porn, isn’t addictive, but it can sometimes be compulsive. This becomes a problem if you are getting less and less from doing it each time you do it. If someone finds themselves going back to gooning a lot but getting a bit less out of it, then it might be time to give it a break. We get a hit of the hormone dopamine when we really crave or want something. It’s thought that if we keep doing this then those dopamine hits might wear off after a while. So keep a check on it from time to time: are you enjoying it?

It’s also about what we’re not doing

It might also help to think about gooning being similar to zoning out playing a console, or bingeing The Wire. There might not be a problem doing those things, but it’s what we’re not doing. For me, if I’m watching TV all day, I know that I’m going to feel a bit shity if I don’t talk to a mate, or go for a walk, or tidy the flat. So to really experience joy from doing one thing, we have to also make sure that other parts of us (or other people in our lives) are not going to experience sadness. I explain more about this idea of Spinozan joy in this article. 

Here are the latest articles from me. All free and ad free.

Screen time

Also all that screen time really isn’t good for our eyes, so it’s a good idea to take regular breaks. Remember what I was saying in these articles about capitalism and porn. I think a lot of people spend more time than they want to looking at porn because the porn tube sites want it that way. So how can you curate the porn you watch. Just like if you were creating a menu for yourself, or an exhibition. Or how about you give the screens a break and explore your own fantasies. See if you can create a sexy story for yourself rather than the fantasies that the porn companies are serving you (ie all that ‘step’ porn). 

Be conscious

Related to this, it’s probably a good idea that gooners try to be conscious. There are big overlaps between tantric sex and gooning, but one of the biggest differences is the porn bit. To make gooning a bit more tantric would be to try to really become conscious of our feelings in our bodies, which might mean focusing less on the porn. This is how consciousness happens. We feel something, we become aware of it, we remember it, and it starts to ‘become’. It’s also a way of having some more ownership over our fantasies and erotic lives and how they are in relation to the people and the world around us. 

Social sex risks

Any kind of social sex runs the risk of privacy risks, abuse, harrassment, online sexual violence, or threats. So I think it’s a really good idea to check that the community has sound moderators who are keeping an eye on things like this. I think a good forum will probably want to prevent under 18s from getting involved (so under 18s who want to goon may have to do it solo for now). In the UK it’s actually illegal to watch porn with someone under 18. 

Porn / sexual images

Also there are the usual risks about porn and sexual imagery. Make sure that any porn that you might be watching is legally made and legally shared. Are all the participants consenting to being gooned over in this way? A lot content creators, sex influencers, make ‘gooning’ content, how are they being treated? Are they being paid, is their content getting credit, are people being nice to them? A social way of thinking about solo sex is to consider the people in the images. How they came to make them, and whether they would be pleased at how a gooner is relating to them. 

People in our lives

Just like in the Sex and the City episode when Carrie and Miranda had to drag Charlotte away from her vibrator (YouTube link to this here), a gooner might just want to make sure that it’s not affecting their relationships. Keep mate dates (and other dates) and stay connected with everyone. We should all have the right to a solo sex life if we want one, but if it starts to have a bad effect on a partnered sex life then we might want to keep that in check too. And of course, if we spend all that time looking at images of people in an erotic way, it’s important that we switch that off after gooning is over. But you knew that anyway.

I found this article by Samantha Cole really useful, thanks!

I hope you found that useful. If you have any other tips or suggestions about gooning, please let me know in the comments (I pre-moderate all comments). I’m off to write the Urban Dictionary definition for ‘prinding’ now.


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I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

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13 thoughts on “What Is Gooning?

      1. How to stay with them! It’s a weekly thing for the guy I was dating and he doesn’t want to change or lessen the habit at all. I feel it’s an addiction that needs to be stopped :/

  1. I’ll bet $10 bucks that in ten years the comment “isn’t addictive” will have aged so terribly it will be either deleted or amended. Until then, keep the blinders on!

  2. Why would you encourage something that’s clearly unhealthy and is an addiction? Gooners don’t have sexual partners by the way. They’re practically incels.

    1. I’m not encouraging it and I’m giving a lot of (what I think is quite good) harm minimisation advice. Also, having read a lot of posts from gooning communities, it’s clear that many people who do it have partners and just enjoy it without problems. But thanks for your feedback about it, which is genuinely welcome.

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