So the mindfulness trend has hit masturbation now?
Stay with us for a second. For many guys, masturbation is about focusing on one organ and getting the job done as quickly as possible. But to mindfully masturbate involves “utilizing your whole body, and all your senses,” says sex therapist Chris Donaghue, Ph.D., author of Sex Outside the Lines. That means you’re not racing for the finish line, and your orgasm isn’t the primary goal.
Then what’s the point?
It can make sex better by broadening your horizons. When masturbation becomes so formulaic that we’re depending on certain habits and techniques every time, “it neurologically wires our body and arousal in a limited and rigid way,” Donaghue says.
Okay, fine. So how do I do this mindful thing?
Try other approaches: See if your body might like something different just as much as (or more than) your standard session. “Do you always sit? Try standing. Are you always quiet? Make some noise. Try it all,” says Donaghue. Pay attention to everything, says Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D., a sexuality and relationship counselor. “How does your skin feel? What temperatures, textures, and sensations do you experience?” she says. You’ll become more focused on your senses rather than just on your ejaculation. You’ll start to slow down and experience sex in ways you might have been too impatient to notice before. And if you only masturbate with porn, take a porn break.
No porn? Then what gets me in the zone?
Each of us has an inventory of sexual experiences, both fictional and real, that we can draw on while masturbating to get us to that next level. A poll earlier this year from dating website IllicitEncounters.com found that these fantasies can run the gamut from coworkers (27 percent) to friends (25 percent) to complete strangers (29 percent). But the most popular material, picked by 55 percent of respondents, is sex with an ex.
If I’m with someone new, should I really be thinking of an old flame?
Yup. “This is perfectly normal,” says MH advisor Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. Reliving or replaying past experiences doesn’t mean you have unresolved feelings for a former partner. “People are capable of having fantasies that they don’t want to make a reality,” Lehmiller says.
I guess, but I still feel weird about this.
You shouldn’t. First of all, those sex throwbacks in your memory bank aren’t very accurate. And second, they’re less about your memories of your ex and probably more about your memories of yourself.
What does that mean? I’ve been getting off thinking of myself?
The hottest memories in your vault may be of you being a sex god in a past relationship—even if it’s not true. A 2014 Duke University study found that men were more unreliable narrators than women when it came to certain aspects of their sex backstories. “And when men were in a great mood, they recalled having better erections and better orgasms than they actually did,” says Kevin P. Weinfurt, Ph.D., the Duke professor of psychiatry who led the study. That distorted memory of yourself may help you feel more confident and valid the next time you have real sex.
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