Are You Your Own Best Sex Partner?
New study suggests many people think sex with themselves is the best.
Two out of three people surveyed identified themselves as their most satisfying sex partner.
Well, it makes sense — we know what we like best.
I once wrote a song about it, called “Tonight It’s Me and Christine.” It was very popular in my adult-themed cabaret act. People could relate to a couple of the lines, “I know myself, I know what I like, I know just how to tease me. Tonight it’s me, tonight it’s me and Christine.”
But I have also written an article titled, “Sex With Christine Stevens Was Disappointing,” or something like that. I can’t remember. (You know, after you’ve written hundreds of articles it actually takes you FOREVER to scroll through the list to find an article — Medium should fix that, BTW).
See, the problem with masturbation is that you feel kind of odd afterwards, you just do sometimes.
Perhaps there is serotonin reuptake after self-sex that doesn’t occur after mutual sex, but that has not been proven. The brain is no more depleted by masturbation than by sex with another human. So what is it, exactly, this feeling after I masturbate?
Post-coital Dysphoria and Masturbation
Post-coital dysphoria is a fancy name for feeling bad after sex. “Postcoital dysphoria (PCD) refers to feelings that range from sadness to anxiety, agitation, anger — basically any bad feeling after sex that isn’t typically expected. It can even make you cry, can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours.”
I can relate to that one. After masturbating to my fifth orgasm, it’s kind of depressing to look at the two vibrators I’ve been using. The big one has a long electric cord that runs across my bed to the electric socket, and it can appear rather absurd what’s all the moaning and writhing is done. And I feel a bit of worthlessness. Like, is this really how I’m spending my day, diddling myself over and over with these contraptions when I really should be writing the great American novel?
A 2020 Journal of Sexual Medicine study found an extraordinary frequency of “bad feelings” after sex, including mood swings, sadness, low energy, frustration, and feelings of worthlessness.”
But these feelings of worthlessness are exactly the same with regard to masturbation as they are with consensual sex. “For 73.5% of individuals, the postcoital symptoms were present after consensual sexual intercourse, for 41.9%, after general sexual activity, and for 46.6% also, after masturbation.” Alright, it’s a little higher for masturbation. But people feel bad after consensual sex too. It’s just a different kind of feel bad.
For Masturbation, the Protestant Work Ethic is to Blame
Not many of us give much credence to the old saw that masturbation will grow hair on your palms or drive you insane. Men feel entitled to spill their seed in vain, despite what the Bible may say. And come on, female masturbation is a verified act of feminist self-empowerment. And yet, our work ethic is so strong here in America — the only industrialized country that offers only two weeks vacation for new employees! — that we might feel like pleasuring ourselves goes against everything that is good in our society. Hey, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t wanking himself five times a day when he wrote the code for Facebook — he was coding his ass off. You think Warren Buffet made a zillion million dollars by fucking a fleshlight in his masturbatorium in the back of his ranch-style home in Omaha, Nebraska? Hell no! He was studying the financials!
But there is more to post-coital dysphoria than meets the eye. In a study published in February of this year, researchers analyzed the negative feelings post sex for women and broke them down into four main factors: 1) Self-Loathing, 2) Positive Connection with Self, 3) Sense of Being Emotionally Overwhelmed, and 4) Feeling Connected with Partner.
There is something post-sex that makes us crave human connection with the other. Obviously, if we just got “laid” by some douchebag who charmed us at the pub, but we feel absolutely no emotional connection to, we’re going to feel a little weird as we get dressed.
Now, think of how we feel in the bed after masturbating and there is NOBODY in the bed with us. Certainly, numbers 1, 2, and 4 above are going to be triggered. Self-loathing, check —” I just wasted a good half hour!” 2) Positive connection with self — “I just took advantage of myself in the most manipulative and selfish way!” and 4) Feeling Connected with a Partner? — “my partner seems to be a gigantic electrical device which is only connected to a plug in the wall and makes me feel pathetic!”
And then 3) might even kick in. “I feel completely emotionally overwhelmed by the very idea of sex! I want to shut down.”
Sex is a Powerful Chemical Experience
Whether you are masturbating or having sex with another, powerful hormones are released like butterflies all through your body and brain during sex.
“It could be related to hormones that are involved in love and attachment,” says clinical psychologist Daniel Sher. “During sex, your hormonal, physiological, and emotional processes are peaking. You’re experiencing an unbelievable level of stimulation, physical and otherwise. Then, suddenly, it all stops and your body and mind need to return to baseline. It’s this physiological ‘drop’ that can bring about a subjective sense of dysphoria.”
This “return to baseline” is what it’s all about with regard to masturbation. All the butterflies have inexplicably flown away. Aw….
Where Have All the Butterflies Gone, Mummy?
If you feel bad after masturbating — or consensual sex — it could be because of something in your psyche that you might want to work out. For instance, Dr. Sher presents the following as possible factors for post-coital dysphoria:
- Body issues. Yes we need to accept our bodies and love them exactly as they are. Otherwise, we might suddenly feel crummy about ourselves when we come back to “baseline.” We might attribute it to masturbation or sex, when really it’s got more to do with “I feel fat.” There are so many ways to work on that, but you have basically two choices: 1) get thin — I don’t recommend — it never lasts. Or 2) Love your body the way it is! Body acceptance!!!
- Past trauma or abuse or sexual assault. When you feel bad after having sex with another person, it is possible that the encounter triggered memories of past sexual abuse or trauma. This is less likely to be the case with masturbation, but “returning to baseline” after masturbating might not be a pleasant experience if we haven’t healed from past trauma. Remember, the Christian name for masturbation is “self-abuse.” Of course, pleasuring yourself is the furthest thing from abuse! Our confused little heads might get these two things mixed up. Don’t!
- Stress or other psychological distress. If I’m having pressure from work or from relationship stuff, yeah, I might feel bad when I “return to baseline.” And yeah, I might think, “I masturbate too much.” When really, it’s that I fucking work too much and worry about it too much and I should actually masturbate more. Like WAY MORE!
Masturbation Is Not a Waste of Time!
But it does provide you an “escape” from the tedium of reality. The trick is to be prepared for the “return to baseline.”
I have some tried and true techniques for post-masturbation that really, really help.
- Take a shower immediately after. No, I’m not trying to wash myself because I’ve been a dirty girl — even though I have, I hope! I like to be as dirty as possible in my masturbation fantasies, and do things I would never dream of doing in real life. And people I would never do in real life — I have absolutely no qualms when that big vibrator is hitting me just right — morality shmorailty, do me Reverend Dan! That’s the whole point of sexual fantasy — venting those repressed urges. If you don’t do it, they cause cancer, I’m sure of it. However, you do feel regretful afterwards — sorry Reverend Dan! — and the warmth of the shower offers an almost soothing “contact” which in some ways imitates the real human contact of cuddling with a human after sex. And it makes you feel so much better!
- Go for another round! Yes, this is called contrary action, and it really works. If I am lying there post masturbation and I feel bad about myself, there is one sure way to fix that — have another go. I fire up that huge electric contraption that is making me feel so pathetic and suddenly it makes me feel awesome again. Be warned though, you are going to have to come back to baseline eventually — or suffer from chafing and other medical issues down there! Plus, I always have this dreaded fear that this gigantic thing is going to electrocute me if I keep pushing it past its limit like this!
- Go for a jog! This hits all the buttons — it fixes the Protestant work ethic thing because let's face it there is nothing worse than going for a jog. And it also fixes the “I feel fat!” because jogging is the best calorie burner there is. If you have returned to baseline and feel bla, any form of exercise will work that right out. What I like about jogging is I don’t need to go anywhere, drive anywhere, set up a youtube exercise video, or get my weights out, or my fricking yoga mat, I hate fricking yoga anyway. I like just running. (Running With The Wolves, thanks, Pablo, I loved that book BTW!)
- Go to sleep! This is the best one, TBH. I never, ever, ever wake up from a post-masturbation nap feeling crummy. The crummy just disappears in dreamland. That’s why, if I have the time — or even if I don’t have the time! — I ALWAYS try to catch a few winks post-self-coitus. And it really makes articles like this one totally unnecessary. All the issues just vanish.
Thanks, masturbation. And you know what, you two out of three people who think you are your best sex partner — good for you! And I decree this day forevermore be known as Have a Wank Day. And don’t worry, I won’t tell your significant other that you put that down on the questionnaire. He’d be devastated. Oh wait, he put it down too!
Happy Wank Day everyone!