Sex for One at 22

The first time I masturbated, I was a junior in high school. By this time I had read countless romance novels, many of which described sex in grossly over exaggerated detail. While reading one of these books in bed, I felt my body begin to buzz and decided to explore myself for the first time.

After a while, something happened that left me feeling confused. No one had ever described to me what an orgasm felt like, nor had I ever talked with my female friends about masturbation. The topic felt taboo, and despite my extensive readings, I didn’t have a clue what sex — by myself or with others — would feel like. 

I didn’t experience another orgasm until years later. Possibly when I was 19. Maybe 20 or 21. I can’t say for sure. Up until a few months ago, I could count on one hand the number of times I had ever orgasmed, and even that was dubious at best.

As a first-year, I borrowed my then-boyfriend’s 600-page book about sex, a joke gift from his sister. I pored through the pages hoping it would provide me with clues on how to navigate the physical aspects of my first relationship. 

Eight weeks later, graduation came, the relationship was over, and I found myself more confused about sex and physical intamacy than I had been going into it. I struggled, because I couldn’t figure out how to become aroused the same way he so easily did.

For years afterward, I wondered if I would ever figure it out. I stressed about starting new relationships and learned how to friend-zone almost every guy I met in part because I was scared of physical intimacy. 

Over the years, I talked to several female friends about their sexual experiences, asking about what arousal felt like to them and hoping to glean some insight into my own struggles. I searched “how to masturbate” on the internet countless times, as I had decided that figuring out how to have sex with myself was the first step to ever having sex with someone else.

I began to see more and more of my friends date and have sex. Despite their assurances that I would understand it all in time, I increasingly felt left behind and even more self-conscious about my own lack of experience.

For a long time, nothing worked. My interest in learning about my body ebbed and flowed throughout the years, and each unsuccessful attempt at masturbating made me feel as if I would never understand.

And one day, I did. Just after my 22nd birthday, I tried masturbating and orgasamed. I even Googled it to be sure, as silly as that sounds. A couple days later, I did it again. And it felt great.

For the first time, I finally felt like I understood what made me aroused and what it would take to bring myself to orgasam. I recognize that for some people this knowledge comes easy; for me, it took years.

It isn’t just about sex. Masturbating makes me feel more confident in myself and my body. It makes me worry less about my lack of experience. And perhaps most of all, it makes me excited to date again and explore both the emotional and physical aspects of a relationship. 

At 22, I finally figured out how to have sex with myself.