Keep Touching Yourself, Even if You Have a Partner - Human Parts

Riley Black 6-7 minutes 4/24/2020

I’m not entirely sure how I came to believe that masturbation is selfish. That was just the vibe I got when I started my own explorations. Lots of people might do it, but talking about it felt dirty. Masturbation was a pressure release valve for all that bubbling, horny tension I didn’t know what to do with, that I couldn’t do anything with, but it was something immature and self-centered. Masturbation was cast as junk food that I might ruin my appetite with before I got to enjoy the meal of a partner.

At this point, we could go back into a history lesson involving centuries of church-perpetuated guilt. Masturbation is also known as Onanism because of Onan’s perceived sin of pulling out, the basis for endless Christian intellectual masturbation over the question of whether every sperm is sacred.

Not that it’s entirely religion’s fault. Freud infamously asserted that women who have clitoral orgasms were psychologically and sexually immature. In other words, anything other than a screaming orgasm from vaginal penetration with a man was something lesser and even a sign of pathology.

But let’s just cut through the nonsense, shall we? Whether it’s religious or secular, a Bible passage or the opining of a psychoanalyst, the idea that masturbation is an immature form of sex is all about control. It’s men and institutions they created telling us that sex is only worthwhile when it’s with a partner in a form that typically brings pleasure to cisgender men. Any sex that’s not penis-in-vagina is dubbed inferior and even sad, whether it’s a matter of saving yourself for holy matrimony or acting like somebody else’s interpretation of what “mature” looks like.

Decade after decade of this toxic messaging can fill single folks with shame, but not just that. Masturbating while you’ve got a partner, possibly right there in the bed next to you, can become guilt-inducing. If you’re feeling horny, shouldn’t you be saving it for them? Shouldn’t they get right of first refusal to your body, your desire?

I’ll try to say this loud for the people in the back: FUCK NO.

If you’re able to pair up with someone and the sex is like fireworks just from the unspoken magic of your chemistry, that’s nice for you. But for many of us, finding out what we like can be a sharp learning curve. Where do we like to be touched? How? What’s a good kind of vibration versus something that’s too much? What leaves us in a panting puddle, and what’s just kind of okay?

If you know what works at just that right moment, it can feel like having a cheat code that makes sex exponentially better.

You can explore all these things with a partner, sure. But sometimes coupled exploration can be a little fraught. Trying out a new toy in the bedroom can be thrilling, but it can also lead to a lot of “Wait, hold on, hm, almost got it…” moments that kill the mood.

The same goes for touch. You can — and should, if you like — just spend some time learning how your partner likes to be touched, just as they should learn the same about you. But if you know yourself, if you know what works at just that right moment, it can feel like having a cheat code that makes sex exponentially better.

But what I’m trying to say goes beyond the practical. No one owns your body but you. If you want to have sex with yourself, no one else should be telling you “no.”

Too often, we treat relationships like unspoken contracts. If I am with you, then all my desire is saved for you. If you do not wish to touch me, I will just have to wait. Or, worse, I must be available to you so that you’re not tempted to abuse yourself or cheat with someone else. If I’m with such a person, and I’m not allowed to learn about myself, how will I ever know? All of this is wrong, reinforcing control instead of sharing between equals.

If you’re a sexual person and you like having sex, what kind of sexual relationship do you have with yourself? Have you given yourself the freedom to fantasize, explore, and experiment with yourself? And does your partner respect that autonomy?

Of course, there’s room to play here. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little pent up and I tell my girlfriend this, she gets this devilish smirk and says, “The next time you cum better be inside me.”

No one is entitled to every facet of your sexuality if there are parts you want to keep and explore for yourself.

I don’t actually get in trouble if I break the rule. That’s the entire point. We both know that I can take time to savor myself whenever I want. But we’re playing a game — how long can I go before I pounce on her? We trust each other and respect each other’s autonomy. If I really can’t wait, she usually asks me “What were you thinking about?” with a grin when it’s clear that I broke the “rules.”

Sexing yourself doesn’t even have to be a strictly solo activity, either. Mutual masturbation, together but separate, can often offer sexy views that you’re just too close to see when you’re literally on top of each other. And while it might not be at the peak of erotic tension, there’s something soothing about knowing you can rub one out because you can’t sleep, and having your partner ask “Was it a good one?” as you relax into bed. You can masturbate alone or with someone, keep it as a treasure for yourself or make it part of how you play.

But the moment you start to feel a chain being linked up to you that you don’t want, shrug it off, break it, snap the links. No one is entitled to every facet of your sexuality if there are parts you want to keep and explore for yourself. If anything, knowing yourself opens up more opportunities and ideas that can enhance the sex you have with a partner. But the idea that masturbation is selfish, impulsive, and immature needs to die. And really, with all the tensions rising around the world right now, wouldn’t life be just a little bit better if more people took a moment to relieve some of it for themselves?

Fuck control. Go fuck yourself.