I Miss Masturbating

I’ve been neglecting an important relationship: the one with myself

Rachael Hope
Dec 10, 2019 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

hen I was married, I masturbated every night. In fact, between the ages of 12 and 33, I’d say I rubbed one out most nights. Sometimes it was because I was feeling lonely or horny, but it was mostly a way to release stress and pressure, and give myself that natural relaxation oxytocin brings.

At some point in the last few months, I realized that I really, really missed masturbating. Since I’ve been with my partner, it’s something that’s fallen by the wayside for a variety of reasons. In September I read Yael Wolfe’s article Ladies, Are You Masturbating Enough, and the answer was a resounding no. In her article, Yael says:

I believe we’d behave a lot differently if we had been exposed to the normalization of female masturbation the way we were to male masturbation. I think we might indulge more if we were taught to prioritize our pleasure the way men are taught to prioritize theirs.

don’t remember the exact day I started, or how I figured out that if I lay on my stomach and put my stuffed bear under myself, I felt something. I was in 6th grade, and I’d go to bed at night with my trusty bear, put it underneath me, and move my hips back and forth. It felt good. Really good.

Why is it that boys are taught this is something natural, but it took until I was 39 to see a movie that joked about a teen girl’s special stuffed animal friend?

At the time, I didn’t realize this was a normal thing that hundreds of other teenage girls were doing in their beds at the same time. Why is it that boys are taught this is something natural, but it took until I was 39 to see a movie that joked about a teen girl’s special stuffed animal friend (thanks, Booksmart!). It’s just one more way our culture fails to normalize female sexuality.

I continued masturbating that way until the internet came into play 4 or 5 years later. Suddenly, I had access to more than the romance novels I’d found in my mom’s closet and a few racy scenes from a Dean Koontz novel. There was a whole new world of erotic stories and “cyber-ing.” That’s when I discovered how to touch myself with my fingers.

From then until a few years ago, this was a nightly ritual for me. I would crawl into bed at night, pull out my phone, and depending on how tired and tense I was take my time or go quick and efficient. The release of hormones and natural chemicals in my body worked as the best relaxation method I could imagine, and sent me into dreamland with something pleasant on my mind.

a sex-positive person, I believe talking about sex and sexuality openly and honestly is important. Masturbation is a part of our sexual lives, and it affects us directly as well as influencing our relationships with other sexual partners. It’s widely accepted that men masturbate, often and with gusto. But female masturbation doesn’t even have a proper name (though I’m partial to Emma Austin’s use of the phrase ‘jilling off’).

Perhaps the lack of discussion about it is one reason I didn’t realize how much I missed it for some time. After my divorce, my sex life was pretty bangin’ for a while. Even after I stopped hooking up so much, I was immersed in an exciting and fulfilling sex life with my partner. One aspect of our relationship is a power exchange dynamic, and that’s part of how I let my self-love life fall into disrepair.

The type of play I was missing was all about me, solo play with no one else’s involvement.

You see, there’s a difference between masturbating for yourself (and only yourself), and asking for permission to touch yourself or have an orgasm. The type of play I was missing was all about me, solo play with no one else’s involvement. I was also in a rough patch when it came to self-care in general: not asking for time alone or out of the house as often as I should have been. When I realized how much I was missing that connection with myself that was just for me, I had a conversation with my partner about it.

I told him how I’d realized I missed it, and that once we’d started living together I didn’t know how to approach it. It was always something I’d done alone in the past, and since we almost always go to bed at the same time, the loss of the alone time didn’t occur to me. When I was married, I went to bed before my husband 90% of the time, and after the divorce I went to bed on my own every night. I missed those moments that were just for me, without expectations or being for anyone else’s benefit.

asturbation isn’t just about sex, and even when it is, it’s not in the ways you’d think. Orgasms are a huge stress reliever, so masturbation can be a way to let off steam and vent some of the pressures that are weighing you down.

When I was younger, I had an easier time falling asleep, especially from mid-night wakings. As I’ve approached 40, it’s become more difficult for me to fall asleep at night, especially from those middle-of-the-night trips to tuck a kid back in or use the bathroom. Many people use masturbation to manage their insomnia and sleeplessness naturally and without side effects.

Getting in touch with yourself solo also has the potential to make you a better lover.

Within a relationship, masturbation can also be used as a tool for increasing intimacy. Earlier this year, Emma Austin wrote about how letting her husband see her real masturbation style brought them closer together, and let her feel really seen. It can also be helpful for managing differing levels of sexual desire in a relationship, since it’s an easy way to get erotic when your honey isn’t up to it.

Getting in touch with yourself solo also has the potential to make you a better lover. For women, masturbating contributes to higher self-esteem and sex drive. It also helps us learn our own bodies and what feels good so we can guide our partners to touch us in the ways we like best.

he idea that people in fulfilling sexual partnerships don’t have the need or desire to masturbate is a huge misconception. I’ve read countless posts where folks are worrying that if they catch their partner masturbating, it must mean they aren’t enough, or aren’t meeting needs they should be meeting. That’s just not the case. There are lots of different kinds of sex, and sex with yourself is just one flavor.

There are lots of different kinds of sex, and sex with yourself is just one flavor.

For me, masturbation meets a much different need than having partnered sex. I often fall right on the line between introvert and extrovert, and sometimes I just need to be on my own. Whether this means going to a restaurant or coffee shop to read a book or retreating to my room to read some erotica, it’s part of staying mentally healthy.

Beyond that, I need to release my stress, and while it’s nice to have people to help me do that, sometimes I just want to do it alone. I carry a lot of emotion with me, and absorb a lot from the world around me. I love hugs and cuddles from my family, but there are also days where I crave isolation and the ability to decompress by myself.

I’m glad I finally realized how much I missed having that alone time. I am still working on taking my partner up on the offer to let me slip away after work or in the evenings to spend some special time nurturing that relationship. It’s become something that’s not routine anymore, and it’s going to take a while for that to change, but I know I’m making progress.

Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

You might also enjoy…

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

Sign up for Sexography's Newsletter

By Sexography

22,000 followers, new editor & more Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Rachael Hope

Written by

Polyamorous, loud laughing unapologetic feminist, rad fatty, and epic sweet tooth.

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

Rachael Hope

Written by

Polyamorous, loud laughing unapologetic feminist, rad fatty, and epic sweet tooth.

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store