Imagine you’ve been hooking up with someone for a while. They’re not really the touchy-feely type — with this person, it’s all about the sex. They come over, make a beeline for your crotch, and as soon as you've had an orgasm, they're gone. No cuddling. Not even a “same time next week?” They're just out the door.
I'm willing to bet that even in spite of getting to come, a lot of folks out there wouldn't be totally happy with that arrangement. But when you think about it, what I describe here is essentially how a lot of people approach masturbation. If we wouldn't be satisfied with that kind of treatment from a partner, why do so many of us accept it from ourselves?
Masturbation doesn’t just have to be a means to the end of getting off. It can also be an opportunity for connecting with yourself, an avenue for sexual exploration and experimentation, and a practice that supports your overall health and wellbeing.
That last bit isn’t just some woo-woo sex educator shit either. Studies have shown that masturbation can improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and improve body image. And for people who menstruate, there’s pretty much no better cure for cramps. Self-love is self-care, y’all.
As long as you’re enjoying yourself and not engaging in behavior that could be harmful to your overall health, there’s no right or wrong way to masturbate. For those interested in taking their self-pleasure game to the next level, here are a few quick tips:
Seduce yourself. Spend some time treating yourself the way you’d like a partner to treat you. Take a long shower. Cook a favorite meal. Put down fresh sheets. Light a candle. Whatever it takes to boost your mood and chill you out, do it for yourself. Just like you don’t have to wait for someone else to come along and make you come, you don’t have to wait for someone else to make you feel special beforehand, either.
Take your time. Sex with yourself doesn’t need to be a speed run. Ease into it and give yourself space to actually notice and feel what’s going on in your body—not just in your genitals. One way of doing this is to…
Explore your erogenous zones. Put simply, erogenous zones are parts of your body that feel good to touch. While people tend to think of them only in a sexual context, erogenous zones may or may not be associated with arousal; for example, you may like having your back scratched, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it turns you on. It’s not all about your genitals — just like partnered sex, masturbation can be a full-body experience. Regardless of whether a particular erogenous zone turns you on or just feels nice, spending some time discovering and exploring themwill bring more of your body into the experience.
Mix it up. It’s not uncommon for people to fall into a masturbation routine where they do the same thing, in the same way, at around the same time, in the same place every time they try to get off. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, there’s also a lot to be said for incorporating some novelty here and there. If you typically masturbate to porn, consider reading some erotica or using your imagination alone instead. If you usually use a toy, try using your hands, or vice-versa. Maybe give a new lube a test run. Use this time with yourself to experiment in whatever way feels good to you.
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, giving yourself time and space to experience pleasure by yourself is a great way to feel good, de-stress, and learn what you like in bed. And what you learn on these solo expeditions is likely to help make partnered sexual experiences even better in the future.
So go on and get down with yourself. It’s good for you.