The first time I cried after masturbation, I thought I was losing it. Nothing in my life was “off” at the time; it was a Saturday afternoon in early spring, the sun was out, and there I was crying. Orgasms, both with partners and during masturbation, had resulted in fits of laughter, something I’d learn to accept about myself, especially after a partner once called it “an adorable quirk.” But crying? Crying just seemed, well, a little too dramatic; even for me.
Because I’d known that some women cry after sex, for a variety of reasons, I figured I was dealing with some unresolved issues, and it was simply just a fluke. But then it happened again about a year later.
This time, it made sense that I would cry. My marriage had just come to an end and having found out my partner had cheated, threw my entire world for a loop. Not only was I unable to orgasm for weeks after the discovery, no matter how hard I tried or how much effort I put into it, because my brain was too pre-occupied with thinking about him having sex with the person he cheated on me with, but when I finally did orgasm almost two months later, it was like the flood gates hadn’t just been lifted, but had been torn apart by my tears. I wasn’t just crying, but sobbing. Actually, more like bawling, the way I do every single time I watch Out of Africa or Big Fish. In that moment, with my vibrator still vibrating next to me in bed, I was emotionally destroyed. So much so that I had to run to the bathroom to throw up — something that often follows such excessive amounts of crying for me.
When it happened again a couple weeks later when I tried to masturbate without crying, the second that orgasm hit, the tears started. I couldn’t even pinpoint why this was the case. While I had not recovered from the cheating, I had finally stopped being pre-occupied with the thoughts of them having sex, and felt I was moving forward as best I could under the circumstances. But still, there were those tears. So many tears. I decided I’d put my beloved masturbation on hold until I could, for lack of a better term, get my sh*t together.
Although my career as a sex and relationships writer gives me a lot of insight into just how complicated human sexuality is and how interconnected the brain and body are, it still didn't make sense that it was happening to me. Right after the end of my marriage, sure! Makes total sense. But a year before that and months after the demise of our relationships? That didn't make sense to me. I had this sort of ignorant thinking that certain things happen to other people, but not me. Which is really ignorant when you consider the fact that actually a lot of the things I assume will never happen to me almost always do.
“Anytime a person has a release as powerful as an orgasm it can trigger an emotional response like crying, especially when a person is holding in emotional stuff,” certified clinical sexologist, sexuality counselor and author of My Husband Wont Have Sex With Me and The Ultimate Intimacy Guide For Passionate People, Dr. Dawn Michael, tells Bustle. “Not only can it reduce stress it releases powerful hormones that can affect emotions and create a feeling of letting go, calmness, and even dopamine, which can have an emotional impact.”
After a few months, I thought I'd try again. Having not masturbated during those months wasn't difficult, as anything and everything even remotely sexual was far from my mind and, after my last few rounds of masturbation, even if I wanted to orgasm to decrease stress, I knew it would back fire. Finally, I was able to masturbate without a single tear and it felt amazing. I thought I'd finally shaken it all from my bones — and I had, until almost two years later when I masturbation brought me to tears again. And, again, like the first time it happened, it was a lovely day, I was killing time in between writing articles, and there were the tears.
As someone who is highly sensitive and extremely emotional, almost to a fault, it does make sense that I might cry after an orgasm. The older I get, the more emotional and empathetic I get, so I imagine more tears are probably in the future. But that's OK. We all respond to pleasure, pain, happiness, grief — all human emotions — in different ways. Because of this, there's no right or wrong way to respond to things that affect our mind and body. Similar to sometimes laughing after orgasms, I've learned to accept that my masturbation-induced orgasms just might have some tears on days that I'm not laughing and, honestly, I'm OK with that. Crying is good your health and at the rate I cry, even while not masturbating, I'm probably the healthiest person I know. So bring on the tears, my beloved masturbation.