What comes to mind when you think of pleasure? We are living in a culture that values efficiency, career-mindedness, and constant ambition, so pleasure sometimes takes a backseat to what we’ve accomplished throughout the day. But, much like a neglected friendship, if you ignore your sexual desire, you won’t get much out of it.
Guilty Pleasure Without the Guilt
The idea of doing something just because it feels good to you sounds indulgent, but that’s primarily a product of how we were raised. People who were raised as women have been programmed that their pleasure is only productive if it’s in the form of pleasing their partner. The idea that an activity is only worthwhile if other people agree its worthwhile isn’t very empowering, and it serves to make us servants to our jobs rather than fully actualized people. Remember: your pleasure is yours, and you will be the one who loses out if you don’t make it a priority.
Thinking of Sex Only in Terms of Pleasure
So many people visit the therapist to fix their sex lives, but increasing pleasure isn’t the main goal on their minds. They frame sex in terms of other, broader goals, like saving their relationship, sustaining their marriage, or trying to have children. These objectives are valuable to be sure, but so is the idea of seeing a sex therapist to have better orgasms because they make you feel good. The idea that pleasure is a waste of time or, at the very least, a selfish way to spend time is toxic and pervasive.
We don’t have to accept society’s value of productivity to force us to put sex on our to-do lists. It doesn’t have to be a chore or a means to an end in order to be a valuable activity.
Pleasure and Independence
The great thing about masturbation is you don’t need a partner to do it. There are many wonderful benefits to masturbating, including stress relief, better knowledge of your turn-ons and the types of touch you most enjoy, better sleep, and a release of pent-up sexual energy. But most people don’t masturbate just because it’s good for them—they do it because it feels amazing. Plus, when you know what you want, you’re better equipped to ask for what you want. Making time for your pleasure can feel revolutionary. And this journey toward reaching your sexual potential is one you can begin all on your own.
Masturbation deserves at least as much of your time, attention, and effort as your partnered sex does. Learning tips and tricks to make the time you spend masturbating even hotter is an incredible way to show up for yourself, sexually. Many people learned shame about masturbation when they were kids, and these shame-based masturbation techniques often stick with them well into adulthood. Trying to get it over with quickly, doing it when no one will see you, and racing through the process are all signs that masturbation is embarrassing or feels wrong. And the great thing about being an adult is that you can decide to leave these ideas in the past.
What if, instead of rushing through masturbation, you blocked off a full afternoon for it? You could dedicate a few hours to creating self-pleasure, however that looks for you. You could start with a luxurious bath, you could try teasing places on your body that you don’t typically touch, and you could take the time to have a mind-blowing orgasm.
A Pleasure-Based View of Life
Though our culture conditions us to believe that we aren’t enough unless we are doing everything we can to be better, stronger, faster, smarter, richer, and more attractive, centering pleasure in your life is much more satisfying than wearing yourself thin. Deciding to do something because you want to is as good of a reason as—if not better than—other people wanting you to do it. It’s important to view pleasure not as a treat that you earn, but as an essential component of mental health. If you centered your life around what brings you joy, you might end up with a career that energizes you, friends that love you no matter what, and the ability to be more of your authentic self all of the time.
If you’d like professional help giving yourself permission to live a pleasure-centric life and working through issues that prevent you from pursuing that, it’s time to reach out to a therapist you trust.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist.