We’re bringing you this Q&A from BUST’s Sex section, featuring advice from sexlogist Dr. Carol Queen.
Question: I find it difficult to masturbate when I’m not feeling sexy, which is usually relegated to when I’m dating and/or having sex with other people. Porn helps, but I’d like a more mindful experience. And, being mindful can bring about painful feelings about being alone, which bums me out too much to get off! I’m on SSRIs, but I don’t have trouble coming with other people, and I can usually eke out an orgasm or two by myself when I’m feeling hormonally horny. I’m in therapy, but I don’t feel super comfortable bringing this up with my shrink. –Out of Touch I’m sorry that you don’t feel you can talk to your shrink about this, because any sexual issue tends to benefit from a little fresh air…I mean, communication. In particular, your “masturbation = I’m alone” self-talk would be particularly useful to talk about in therapy. But let me add some thoughts now, whether your shrink gets a chance to weigh in or not. Please try to stop thinking of masturbation as a substitute for sex. It’s not, and as you’ve experienced yourself, women often want to masturbate when they are involved in a relationship that cranks up sexy feelings.
Dr. Carol Queen: Rather than holding on to the idea that masturbation isn’t something you’d prioritize if you had a person to connect with, try to see it differently. When I spoke in China many years ago, the term the translators used for masturbation was “self-comfort.” That’s such an awesome notion, and takes the urge to do it out of the “I’m horny” category and makes it more like, “I feel so much better when I do my yoga stretches.” Sexpert Annie Sprinkle talks about “medabation,” as in, using masturbation as a form of meditation. As with non-clit-centric meditation, that means you need to get extraneous ideas out of your head. If you have sexual fantasies, that’s great, but stay away from the “It isn’t working, I feel lonesome” self-talk and just try to connect with the sensation of your hands and toys on your body. That in itself can be meditative and centering; sex therapists call it “sensate focus.”
It is likely that your SSRIs are playing into this, and that means it’s harder for you to feel pleasure. Remember that sensory pleasure and orgasm can, but don’t need to, go hand in hand. Just take some time every few days to chill out, still the “monkey mind,” and stay in touch with your body.
Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone.
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Top photo: Girls/HBO
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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