I woke up late today, and stretched out in bed, feeling around for the impossibly warm body of my partner for our morning post-sleep cuddle, but he wasn’t there.
A quick glance at my phone filled me in on his whereabouts – he’d ducked out to the store to grab some things and wanted to let me sleep in. He knew I was struggling with insomnia and to wake me up when I was finally getting some rest seemed like a cruel thing to do, especially on a weekend.
I smiled contentedly to myself. Not because of his sweet gesture, but because, since moving in with him a few months ago, this was the first time I’d been alone in the house without him. And I was going to finally get to masturbate again.
So far, I have no complaints about our shacking up together. Things have been blissful. The ‘waking up each day next to my best friend’ thing makes my heart feel full, but the lifestyles we both lead mean he’s always home when I am, so I haven’t had the privacy to have some sexual ‘me-time’ in a while – and I really miss it.
Because even though I’m completely satisfied with our sex life – which is actually better than ever – I can’t deny that I wish I got a chance to masturbate more often.
In fact, my ultimate fantasy right now would be to kick back with a facemask on, a glass of sweet wine on the bedside table and ten minutes with my favorite vibrator. Not because my partner doesn’t satisfy me, but because sometimes I just want to masturbate. And that’s okay.
Masturbating, for me, is intrinsically tied to my own empowerment. I’d never really ‘explored’ myself until my early 20s, and once I started, I realized it had significantly improved my pleasure when I was having sex with someone else as well. I was able to learn all of the things I liked and what made me tick in a completely new way, and got well-acquainted with my own vagina in the process. And I’m not alone, either.
A 2013 study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that a lot of women feel sexually empowered when they masturbate. This empowerment comes from being about to achieve orgasm, having better self-esteem about their genitals, and learning more about their bodies. The study also concluded that when women were able to focus solely on their own sexual pleasure without having to be worried about pleasing a partner or falling pregnant, they felt more sexually empowered.
Once I got into my current relationship, I wasn’t going to suddenly throw my vibrator to the side and abandon all of the amazing orgasms I could have on my own just because I was having them with someone else as well. I’m very much a ‘more the merrier’ type of gal. Why only have three orgasms when you could be having five, I always say.
After all, masturbating is a normal part of human sexuality, and the urge to touch yourself doesn’t go away just because someone else might also be touching you.
It’s always bothered me when people in relationships get all up in arms when their partner masturbates, believing that they should be the only outlet for their partner’s sexual wants and needs, and treating the whole thing as if they’d caught their lover in the act with another person, instead of just with themselves.
I’m not entirely sure where this horror at self-love has come from; does it stem from a misplaced belief that we have to be everything for our significant other, including their only sexual outlet? Does it stir up feelings of jealousy or questions, like “why didn’t they wait to have sex with me”? Or is it all connected to the still-taboo nature of masturbation?
Maybe it’s a combination of the three.
The popular love story narrative we’re drip-fed through fairytales, movies, sitcoms and a myriad of other sources convinces us that the person you love should be everything to you. Your partner should be your best friend, your ‘one and only’., and fulfill all of your needs – socially, romantically and sexually.
To a degree, this is true. Your partner should be satisfying these needs, and if you’ve agreed to be in a monogamous relationship, they should be the only person you’re having sex with, sure. But one person can’t be everything for another person. If you’re looking for a bit of variation with your social life, you organize a girl’s night with your friends, or join a sports club, or engage in some other social activity outside of binging Netflix with your partner for the umpteenth night in a row.