Being single usually has a fairly sad undertone for many people. Movies and media had shaped a certain image of how the life of single people looks like, with tons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or endless booze on Friday nights and questionable sex life.
But in real life, being single doesn’t have to be weird and awkward and sad. In fact, being single can be the best time to work on yourself, discover new hobbies, and even explore your own sexuality better.
Sexologist Dr. Megan Stubbs is one of those people who are here to break the stigma surrounding singlehood and show people that you can, in fact, enjoy your life and sex while single.
In her new book, Playing Without a Partner: A Single’s Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness, she talks about the importance of self-pleasure and how to use your time being single to explore things you haven’t explored before.
Forget the Stigma Surrounding Singlehood
The stigma surrounding single life is still very much prominent in our lives. We still have the image of single men, the bachelors, and the single women, who are called way worse — spinsters, thornbacks, Old Maids.
It’s been decades since The Sex and the City aired on HBO, where we got to see the true battle between the singles and the coupled people in action, but it doesn’t seem like the image of what single people are has changed that much.
“Unsurprisingly, sentiments like happy, loyal, mature, and loving were said [in the study] when it came to married individuals. But when it came to the perceptions of single people, the praise fell short,” Dr. Stubbs explains the difference between how we perceive single and coupled people in her book. “Sentiments like immature, self-centered, insecure, lonely and unhappy were perceived by the respondents.”
Despite our perceptions, though, the statistics show that there have never been more single households in the US than now. Almost half the population, 45% of adults above 18 years old, are single. Interestingly, studies also report that people do tend to become happier with their single status as they age.
So, it looks like it’s time to say goodbye to all the stigmas surrounding singlehood and embrace this status as a norm, just like being in a relationship is.
Self-Pleasure Is Self-Care
It’s late Sunday morning, and it’s time for your weekly self-care ritual. You make yourself a matcha latte with oat milk, have a stretch, and a bath with your favorite salts. Then you read a book while sipping on your latte on the balcony, and… you masturbate.
Yes, masturbation and self-pleasure are as much of a form of self-care as taking a bath, or meditating is. The benefits of masturbation are endless:
- Improved body image.
- Helps de-stress.
- Better sleep.
- Orgasms are natural painkillers.
- Post-orgasm glow (a free facial? Sign me up!)
Self-care is one of the most important things we can do to ourselves as humans. It’s a crucial part of de-stressing and leading a happy and fulfilling life. When you’re in a relationship, it can be hard to find the time for self-care and set boundaries.
So, when you’re single, it’s the best time to build the foundation of self-care, implementing the habits that allow you to recharge and prepare for new challenges ahead. And self-pleasure should be included on that self-care list.
“When in doubt, masturbate. This is the ultimate near-cure-all that you have in your bag of tricks,” Dr. Stubbs writes in her book. “Touching your body can take your mind off whatever’s ruining your day and release a wave of feel-good hormones.”
Self-pleasure is a wonderful thing, and it shouldn’t be viewed as something only those who can’t get “real” sex do. At the end of the day, all sex — oral, solo, partnered, anal — is “real” sex.
Ways To Explore Yourself Are Endless
Self-pleasure has many benefits, and not only to your skin and mental health. It can also greatly improve your relationship with yourself and with other people.
When you masturbate, whether by yourself or with the help of sex toys, you’re exploring your own pleasure, and at the same time, you’re learning what things turn you on, what feels good, and what might not be for you.
“Once we feel empowered to explore the realms of masturbation, fantasy, and sex toys, we can use self-love to discover new paths to pleasure, no partner needed,” Dr. Stubbs explains. “We can also teach ourselves more about our own bodies and preferences, which will come in handy when we do have the opportunity to play with other people.”
It’s always amazing to have a partner who you trust and who’s open to exploring and trying out new things with you in the bedroom. But just because you don’t have a partner like this at this moment, it doesn’t mean that you can’t embark on this journey by yourself.
Use self-pleasure to improve your sex life on your own so that when you’re ready for the new relationship, you can have the best sex life ever with your new partner.
The best part about solo sex is that there are endless things you can try and explore all by yourself (or with the help of a sex toy… or two). There are really no set rules of how you should masturbate and pleasure yourself — whatever gives you pleasure and feels great works when it comes to solo sex.
Just like you would prepare for partnered sex, you can prepare for sex with yourself. Have a shower, put lotion on, set the mood with music and candles, wear your favorite lingerie. Settle comfortably and start working on warming yourself up.
Do you like to watch porn? Put some of your favorite videos. Prefer to use your own imagination? Get to fantasizing about anything you find arousing as you lie in your bed. Maybe you like to read? Pick up one of many erotica books or stories available and get turned on that way.
Take your time exploring yourself and your body, just like you would if you were with your partner. “Feel what it’s like to touch yourself in a way that pleases you,” Dr. Stubbs encourages in her book.
Self-pleasure doesn’t have to be boring. You can switch up the gears and try different techniques, positions and strategies each time you dedicate the time for some self-exploration. Try tantric masturbation if you’re looking for a mindblowing orgasm, or experiment with anal masturbation if you’re curious.
Let’s not forget the sex toys. From dildos, butt plugs, and vibrators, you can have so many different variations of solo sex. You’ll never get bored of it. Clit suckers like SILA are great if you love oral sex, as it imitates the sensation, and you can enjoy it while having sex with yourself.
A vibrator like MONA Wave is great for some internal g-spot stimulation and maybe even hitting your cervix for some intense blended orgasms. The sky is the limit when it comes to self-pleasure.
Embrace Self-Pleasure to Improve Your Communication
Lack of communication and the shame around sex is the reason why so many people have awkward sexual encounters and most often than not, have poor sex experiences.
Self-pleasure can help you improve your communication about your needs with your partner, which will lead to a way more satisfying sex life when and if you’re going to find yourself in a new relationship.
“By embracing masturbation, not only do you get to learn how to pleasure yourself in a way that you like, you can learn to better communicate the ways you like to be touched, if and when you decide to add a partner to the mix,” Dr. Stubbs explains in her book.
Self-Pleasure Doesn’t Always Have to Be About Orgasm
Masturbation, just like partnered sex, doesn’t have to always be about an orgasm. Sure, it’s great to finish, but sometimes the sensation and process of it are way more important than the big O.
Think of a solo-sex experience as a way to get to know your body and experience all the sensations in different places of your body. “As much of sexuality is trying to race towards the “goal” (orgasm), this technique [Sensate Focus] takes away the pressure and actually says, ‘don’t,’” Dr. Stubbs explains.
Learning to understand what you’re feeling when you’re touching different parts of your body while masturbating is going to help you tremendously when the time comes to have sex with a partner.
“This practice also translates into a valuable benefit when/if you find yourself with a new partner because you’ll know exactly what feels best and what they should steer clear of,” Dr. Stubbs writes.
Self-Pleasure and Body Confidence
Most people (most often people with vaginas) are uncomfortable in their bodies and have a lot of issues with body confidence. In fact, research shows that only 4% of women in the world think of themselves as beautiful.
This can lead to unsatisfactory sexual experiences because it’s hard to fully relax and enjoy the experience when you’re thinking about how you look to your partner or when you don’t believe you deserve to have a good time while having sex.
Self-pleasure can help you improve your body confidence tremendously, which in turn will lead to a more satisfying experience in the bedroom, solo, or with a partner.
“As your sexual satisfaction grows within yourself, a side effect of that is commonly an increase in body confidence,” Dr. Stubbs writes. “The better you feel about the skin you live in, the more comfortable and confident you will be in the world.”
Karolina Wilde is a sexual wellness writer. Her work has been published on The Ascent, P.S. I Love You, and Sexography reaching over 25,000+ readers. In her free time, you can find her podcasting, reading, or creating TikTok videos.