Even if you’re a creative, explorative, and attentive lover during partnered sex, you might not use your skills during solo sex. There’s nothing wrong with the same position, with the same touch, in the same way — sometimes you just want to get off so you can get back to your day. But masturbation can also be so much more. It can be a way to connect with your body, explore your sexuality and fantasies, relax, de-stress, and get better in bed.
“The secret to having really good sex is learning to have really good sex with yourself,” Dr. Britney Blair, clinical psychologist and Lover co-founder, says. Here’s how.
Photo by Dainis Graveris on SexualAlpha
Connect with Your Body and Pleasure
Masturbation is a chance to practice connecting with your body when there are fewer distractions, so that eventually it’s easier to connect with your body when a partner is with you.
One way to do this is the "raisin exercise," a mindfulness practice in which you eat a single raisin very, very slowly. Start by sitting in front of your one raisin. Imagine you’ve never seen a raisin before (lucky you), and that you want to remember every detail of your first encounter. How would you describe what it looks like to someone else?
Spend a full minute or two simply observing the raisin to see what it does. Then pick it up. Roll it gently, noticing the variations in texture. What does it feel like? Raise it up to your nose. What does it smell like? Is that smell changing as it warms between your fingers? Bring it to your lips, and place it on your tongue without chewing or swallowing.
Notice how your arm moves towards and away from your mouth. Hold the raisin in your mouth, feeling its small weight on your tongue, and even rolling it around gently. How does it taste? How does your mouth feel with the raisin inside of it? Chew, slowly, without swallowing. What side of your mouth is it on? How does the flavor spread across your tongue? How would you describe the taste, if you didn’t say “it just tastes like a raisin”?
When you’re ready, set the intention to swallow the raisin. Then, swallow it. Can you feel it going down your throat? What is the aftertaste like? How do you feel?
The skills in the raisin exercise — slowing down, being present, noticing details, and connecting with sensations in your body — are the same skills you need to level up your masturbation.
“Everything with sex is better slow and savored,” Dr. Blair says. Instead of jumping right in, take a few breaths to notice how you feel in your body. Notice what the first touch feels like, even using your non-dominant hand so you’re forced to go slower. Stay present all the way along as the sensations build in your body.
Get Familiar with Your Arousal Scale
The arousal scale is a way to talk about how your body feels on the way to having an orgasm. At 0 you’re not aroused physically or mentally, and at 10 you’re having an orgasm and super into it. Check in with yourself as you masturbate. What number are you at, and how does continuing the same motion in the same place or doing something different change that?
Knowing where you are on the arousal scale can help you limit premature ejaculation, communicate with a partner around whether or not you’re about to have an orgasm, or even play with orgasm control or edging.
Play with Sensations You Can Bring into Partnered Sex
If you really want to bring the pleasure you practice alone into partnered sex, it’s important to make sure that you’re using touch that you can use with a partner.
For people with penises, the prone position — where you use your whole body weight to rub your penis against a flat surface, like a mattress — doesn’t translate to partnered sex outside of mutual masturbation. If you masturbate that way all or most of the time, your body and mind start to expect that style and level of stimulation from any sexual experience, which can make it harder to have erections and orgasms with a partner.
Using a death grip can have the same effect. A super hard grip is hard to replicate in vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, so over time it could mean you find partnered sex less arousing.
If you have a penis, it’s also important to be mindful of how often you masturbate. As a general rule, once every 48 to 72 hours will give you the most access to pleasure while making sure you have the best erections and orgasms.
For people with vulvas, using vibrators or other sex toys alone is great, but don’t be afraid to bring them into partnered sex. It’s totally normal and okay to need a vibrator in order to have an orgasm — but if that’s the only way you can orgasm, then it’s important to make space for your vibrator in your partnered sex life.
Try Something New
Novelty is part of sexual desire and arousal, so even if you’re happy with how you masturbate it’s always a good idea to try something new now and then.
Plus, trying something new is the best way to masturbate in a way that expands your partnered sex. Use different types of touch, different rhythms, and different positions. Experiencing pleasure in different ways alone can condition your body to experience the full range of sensations and pleasure available with a partner, rather than expecting one set of sensations and feeling frustrated when they aren’t part of your encounter.
You’ll also keep your solo sex life far more interesting.
Download the Lover app today to learn more about how masturbation can improve your sex life.