Like many women, I'm guilty of sometimes forgetting to masturbate when I'm in a relationship. Sure, it'll still happen occasionally — like when he's out of town, or working on a Sunday — but by and large, I've tended to reserve my solo play for times when I'm single. Which, I've come to believe, is a big mistake on my part.
I was reminded of just how much I've been neglecting feeling myself during the taping for our latest I Want It That Way podcast episode about masturbation. In this week's episode, we talked about when we started masturbating, what our current routine is, and how masturbation does or doesn't factor into our relationships. It was a fun conversation, and I found myself waxing poetic about just how important masturbation is for women's sexuality, body image, relationships, and yes, feminism. Talking about the ways in which it's important for women to masturbate, no matter what their relationship status, was humbling for me —mostly because I realized it was time to practice what I preach, and get to masturbating more.
In an effort to further hammer home to myself (heh) why masturbation is important, here are nine reasons we should all be whacking the mole more often — especially when we're in a relationship.
1. You Should Never Depend On Your Partner For All Your Sexual Satisfaction
No matter how great your partner is in bed, you shouldn't ever depend on one person for all your sexual satisfaction — unless, perhaps, that person is you.
I've noticed an interesting connection between masturbation and healthy relationships, in fact: most of the women I know who've ended up in the most dysfunctional, borderline-abusive relationships have also admitted to me that they don't masturbate. Because of this, they've tended to say things like, "I know he's acting crazy, but the sex is so good, I can't imagine feeling that way with anyone else." I think the fact that these women never get off on their own and their (perhaps warped) view that the guy was "so great" in bed that it was worth putting up with his disrespectful behavior were not unconnected.
Even assuming you're in a happy relationship, it's important not to make another person shoulder all the responsibility for your sexual satisfaction. Imagine how you'd feel if you knew your partner was dependent on you for all their orgasms? It would be a lot of pressure — and pressure does not, usually, ggg sex make.
2. It Helps You Stay In Touch With Your Fantasies
Sometimes, it isn't until I'm alone that I realize there's something new that I'd like to try with my partner. Masturbating gives you the chance to check in with your own sexuality and fantasies outside the context of your relationship.
It's the same reason you need to allow for space in any relationship — without some distance, it's hard to keep bringing new things to the table and have any perspective. Taking care of yourself helps you tap into what you're craving when there are fewer distractions; this can yield super useful information to bring back to your next tryst.
3. It's Key For Self-Care
Masturbating is great self-care. Not only are the physical health benefits numerous — the psychological ones are as well. "An orgasm is the biggest non-drug blast of dopamine available... [it] releases feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that lift your spirits, boost your satisfaction, and activate the reward circuits in your brain," Gloria Brame, Ph.D, told Psychology Today. Drugs that are good for you?! I'll take it.
Planned Parenthood graciously took the time to list a bunch of the other benefits of masturbation, which include "creating a sense of well-being; enhancing sex with partners both physically and emotionally; increasing the ability to have orgasms; improving relationship and sexual satisfaction; improving sleep; increasing self-esteem; improving body image; reducing stress; releasing sexual tension; relieving menstrual cramps; strengthening muscle tone in the pelvic and anal areas; and reducing women’s chances of involuntary urine leakage and uterine prolapse."
We take the time to exercise and deep condition — so consider masturbation just another part of the fun that comes with maintaining your best self.
4. It Helps You Foster More Positive Body Image
I know that when I've had periods of struggling with body image, masturbation was actually a super useful way to help cultivate some more love for myself and my own body. Sure, your partner might make you feel good about your body sometimes (or hopefully, all the time), but only you have the power to fully convince yourself of just how beautiful you are.
5. It's An Easy Way To Exercise
We know that sex is good exercise, so why don't we ever think of masturbation the same way? Sure, you might not be bouncing around as much, but the intense (possibly multiple) orgasms you're going to have on your own are going to get that heart rate up.
I know that I've had a marathon sesh or 50 that stood in for a workout on days when I was too lazy to actually stand. I could tell it was exercise, because afterwards, I'd be all sweaty and hungry. It also works those kegel muscles, and definitely beats spin class.
6. You'll Give Better Directions During Sex
How are you supposed to know how to give directions during oral or when a partner's touching you if you aren't even sure how to do it yourself? Sure, you can try, but the directions won't be as good. Consider it an investment in future sex.
7. ... And Want More Sex, Period
When you're orgasming regularly, you overall sex drive gets revved up, which makes total sense. (You know that feeling when you have one orgasm, and it just makes you want another?) Tamara Pincus, a sex therapist, told Mic, "People who ignore their sexuality tend to not be that interested when the opportunity arises, and people who don't masturbate often don't have as much of a sense of what's pleasurable for them, and because of that they may not get as much pleasure out of partnered sex." Which brings us to...
8. It's Fantastic Foreplay
Feel like you're stuck in the same foreplay rut in your relationship? (Kissing, boob action, oral, main event?) Well, the next time you're waiting for your partner to come home, try texting them that you're already in bed touching yourself. It's never ended up boring for me. Partners will also love to watch you go to town on yourself, so don't think masturbation has to be a solo activity.
9. It's Perfect For When You're Both "Slorny"
"Slorny" is a word I very proudly thought I had invented (until I found it on Urban Dictionary just now), which stands for the very common late-night state of being both sleepy and horny. When you come home from a party slightly tipsy at 2 a.m. and just wanna have an orgasm without all the effort of actual penetrative or oral sex, mutual masturbation is a truly under-utilized option. Because, chances are, no one can get you off as easily, quickly, and lazily as you can. With mutual masturbation, you can also usually have an orgasm while facing each other lying down and kissing, something you might not be able to during penetrative sex, since that position would block access to touching your clit.
The result is an orgasmic win-win for both slorny parties — and your relationship.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.