I’d rather have sex with a guy I barely know or even a guy who I know, but I can’t stand, than to masturbate. Sitting on some annoying guy’s face is easy, but being alone with my body and exploring me? Now that’s hard. 

In my early to mid 20s, I saw a sex therapist with my boyfriend, Paul. He had a low sex drive and mine was high. Paul was dedicated to making our relationship work and was willing to pay for everything. In our very first session, the sex therapist told me straight up that I needed to learn how to masturbate and to get a copy of For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. She said I was relying too much on Paul, and it wasn’t fair or healthy for the relationship. At the end of the session, she suggested that I take a really long shower and play with the shower head. “It WILL happen, you just need to be patient.” 

What the fuck? That was not what I wanted to hear. No, I didn’t know how to masturbate, but I had no desire to learn. Isn’t that the whole point of having a boyfriend? I mean, he knew my vagina better than I did. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. We didn’t stick around very long with the sex therapist. It was my idea to stop seeing her since she wasn’t blaming Paul enough. Needless to say, Paul and I didn’t work out either. 

Cut to ten years later, and I’m now understanding what the sex therapist was saying. 

Learning how to masturbate in your 30s is difficult. All these years, I impulsively grabbed onto whoever offered me instant intimacy, thinking that was my only way to nurture myself. Also, I LOVE sex. I love the disappearance of all boundaries and barriers. I love the complete state of merging into one. I love that primal bliss. But to feel that union and harmony with just with me? That’s uncomfortable annnnnd kinda scary. 

But it’s fucking time. I’ve been talking to girlfriends about what they do. I’ve been asking for details. The nitty, gritty details. I’m finally reading For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. It’s making me spend a lot of time exploring and learning about my vagina. It’s weird and often jarring. Sometimes I want to say ‘fuck it’ and text a guy who doesn’t really care about me. And then sometimes I do. But at the end of all the lusting and thrusting with whomever… I always come back to me. 

That’s the thing with masturbation. It’s just me. Alone. No one's around. (At least I hope so). In the past, I never wanted to be alone. I was scared to be alone. Maybe that’s why I never wanted to learn in the first place. 

The process of learning how to masturbate as a grown woman has been a deep and profound experience. 

But I’m going to be patient with myself... and I will take that long shower.