How Masturbation Is Keeping Me Sane During My Break From Sex & Dating
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When I started Bustle's App-less April Challenge a 30-day dating app detox, I felt stricken with anxiety. My shy personality and reserved demeanor acted as the perfect social crutch for me to interact with new people in ways that I would never date to in real life. Indeed, I reasoned that because I only used dating apps to meet new partners, App-less April would be disastrous to my dating life. Instead, App-less April was truly a challenge in pushing my boundaries and breaking free of my comfort zone which had confined me to an online, toxic space.

App-less April entailed an abrupt change in my behavior that altered my dating life and my perception of sex. Contrary to all of my fears, App-less April encouraged me to embark on a journey of self-exploration and self-discovery. I grew tremendously from the challenge — it taught me that I am capable of far more than I believe. It affirmed to me that I am able to attract positive energy and people into my life through my own energy — the real life me, not the one that features a pithy 140 character description or four meticulously edited photos, possesses an inner burgeoning social butterfly.

How I Realized That Casual Sex Doesn't Satisfy Me

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Through App-less April, I was able to reach several revelations, including how I manifest my sexuality in my life in a way that truly pleases my body and soul. By taking a break from the non-stop, highly sexually charged energy of dating apps, I came to the realization that casual sex doesn't satisfy me. Over the month that my social calendar was not filled with dates with random, first-name only, Tinder matches, I realized how exhausting and draining casual sex feels for my body and my psyche. I made the decision that I would take an indeterminate break from sex, with my intentions set that I would awaken my personal growth and come to a place of clarity.

As one would expect, my sex hiatus has proved to be an exercise of my will-power and self-control. When my sexual energy is surging and my body is screaming for satisfaction, my hiatus feels grueling. In the spirit of fostering my relationship with myself, I have been engaging much more in the most wonderful expression of self-love: masturbation.

"There are an endless number of reasons to masturbate. Learning how to make yourself orgasm is the most empowering experience you will ever have," Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and founder of Finishing School, tells Bustle."

When I am lying in my bed with my vibrator, I clear my head, close my eyes, and shut out the noise of the outside world. I light my favorite cinnamon vanilla candle and I turn up my specially tailored masturbation playlist.  I immerse myself fully in the moment while I feel ecstasy and bring my sensations to new heights.

What Masturbation Means For My Personal Growth

Ashley Batz/Bustle

During my sex hiatus, my masturbation sessions have been invaluable towards keeping my mind engaged and pleasing my body. I believe that by choosing to focus on my own pleasure rather than on my partners' or on the game of casual sex, I am cherishing and loving myself.

Masturbation is a deeply personal experience that serves the unique needs of every woman. For me, at this vibrant point of my life that I have chosen to commit to a break from sex, masturbation has kept me in a state of mind and body awareness. My ability to pleasure myself has kept me sane and on the path towards higher personal growth that I am determined to complete — with my vibrator wand right next to me.