This post was created in partnership with TENGA.
This past weekend my friends at TENGA invited me back to the yearly Sex Expo to learn about their second United State(s) of Masturbation survey and also offered me the chance to pick Dr. Chris Donaghue’s brain about TENGA’s findings, which is what I looked forward to the most. I was nervous about what to discuss with him, because sex is a vulnerable topic, especially when you only talk to someone once a year. However, I was more excited to dig in, because I love learning from others and hearing about things I never would have known about on my own. This survey is interesting as it compiles data from people of all ages (1,200 Americans between the ages of 18-74) and takes a look at their habits and attitudes towards masturbation, sexuality, general health and well-being. I walked into the day ready to talk about lube with Dr. Chris, but I instead left with a better understanding of how masturbation affects our confidence, health and relationships with others in more ways than you think.
This year’s study found that 42% of people masturbate at least once a week, and 20 percent do so at least four times a week! My first thought was, “Who has time to masturbate four times a week, especially if you’re having sex with someone consistently. I have things to do!” I asked Dr. Chris how someone can go from having sex once a week to four times a week? He taught me that you have to begin by prioritizing it, and you have to start acting on moments you feel aroused, even if it means calling someone to say you’re running 15 minutes late. (FYI – you most likely masturbate for an average of 13 minutes.) You start with a lower level of arousal, but it grows over time, because you’re taking advantage of these moment more. Overall, Dr. Chris says, “The more sex you have, the more sex you have. The less sex you have, the less sex you have.”
Being in a relationship for over a year now, I also wanted to talk with Dr. Chris about relationships getting stale over time. I have friends who mention this, including masturbating when their partner isn’t around, and I think about how I don’t want to get to that point where I love my boyfriend and things are good, but sex becomes a low priority. Dr. Chris told me a few great things to keep in mind, whether you’re being preventive or recovering from a slump – which naturally happens.
- You need to know what your partner enjoys. You can’t maintain a healthy sexual relationship unless you understand what gets them off, which only happens through asking questions and sharing details, including masturbation habits. Do they do it at all? The good thing is that 89% of people who talked to their significant other about masturbation have had an overall positive experience, no matter how initially awkward it was.
- Your partner may not want to have partner sex all the time, and that’s okay. Sometimes they just want solo sex, especially because masturbation is an experience that focuses on individual desires and fantasies. However, you can try to involve yourself in your partner’s masturbation session by doing things such as stroking them with a toy, providing dirty talk, watching and more.
- How is stroking your partner during their masturbation session different from a handjob? Dr. Chris explains that handjobs are still about the two of you together, but you stroking them during masturbation is about involving yourself in their experience, which may include them watching porn. It’s not about you.
- What if the porn your partner watches is nothing like what y’all do or what you look like? It doesn’t need to be. The porn your partner watches is about them having another sexual outlet and turning towards another part of themselves that they don’t explore or may not want to explore in real life. The porn they watch is not about them turning away from you.
- Uncover to recover. When your sex life isn’t ideal, be open to saying, “I want to feel desired by you. I want to have more sex with you, and if you can’t give me that right now, what are the roadblocks.” You have to uncover what is standing in y’all’s way to then recover to where y’all want to be.
TENGA’s survey also found that people who are masturbation warriors (at least 4x a week) have four big life benefits. One that Dr. Chris and I really got into was about having a higher body confidence. The best masturbation experiences require you to be in sync with what pleases your body, and when you’re in sync with your body, you love it no matter how it looks. Additionally, if you can be vulnerable enough to talk with your friends and sexual partners about masturbation and what does or doesn’t sexually work for you, then you will have more confidence in all areas of your life, including talking with your boss about what you need from your career.
This year I walked away from the Sex Expo and the chat with Dr. Chris about TENGA’s United State(s) of Masturbation survey with a deeper understanding of how masturbation is this gateway to seeing yourself fully, and it can shape how you interact with others – including how confident you are in your career. When you pair it with vulnerability and communication, it can be the ultimate good time.