It’s been 14 months since my mouth was caressed by that of another, let alone my genitalia. For me, the lack of kissing is more concerning than the lack of coitus. I’ve been making out far longer, and more frequently, than I’ve been knocking boots.
When I first had sex at the ripe old age of 21, I was so excited to be fucking AT ALL (and relieved I wouldn’t be graduating college a virgin), that I didn’t even consider the possibility that it could be better. All I knew was that it felt good and we were falling in love—what more could I have asked for?? Apparently, a lot! Which would only gradually dawn on me over the next near-decade of mostly-mediocre sexual encounters.
The main issue with my subsequent lovers was that we never dated for longer than a month or two (Diet Coke Dealer somehow made it to the 4-month milestone). Usually, by the time I identified and slowly worked up the courage to suggest something different, I’d already been ghosted. So, when I was finally in a relationship with Sauce Man, I didn’t know how to communicate what I wanted from another person, because nobody had ever hung around long enough for me to figure it out.
Telling myself I had no idea what I was doing, I allowed most of my sexcapades to be driven by the guy. And with the exxxception of The Comedian, most of those interactions left me far from the finish line. It wasn’t until Diet Coke Dealer told me that he “could literally have sex with a hole in a wall and still finish” that I finally started to consider answering the dreaded-and-therefore-deflected question: “What do you like?”
With minimal WAP-worthy memories to long for, a sexless year in quarantine was no death sentence. After all, masturbation was always a sure thing. But how often was I even doing that? A few years ago, an energy healer told me that my sacral chakra was “barely ticking” (a healthy chakra should be happily spinning), so she gave me the assignment to have 4 “releases” per week. Let’s just say I rarely completed my homework.
Then, inspired by the habit-building efficacy of the 60-day Sanctuary Challenge, I decided to take my self-care up a notch with a self-imposed 60-day Orgasm Challenge. I found a friend to be my accountability buddy, and we spent March and April texting each other about our commitment to a daily orgasm.
I naively assumed that by Day 60, I’d be positively radiant with the flush of daily pleasure. But the challenge turned out to be a lot more challenging than I expected, and I only “achieved” orgasm 33/60 days. (What began as a daily commitment to prioritize self-love, soon became just another opportunity to flex my toxic perfectionism.) At first, this felt like a failure—until I realized the real challenge was getting clear about what I want when it comes to sex and intimacy.
On the 27 days when I couldn’t check the box (could be a new euphemism, but I really was keeping a written tally), I was either too tired, too stressed, or simply not in the mood. Once, I texted my friend: “I hate how busy my work is right now. I’m not a great lover when I am overworked.” Sadly, this was a revelation for me.
Another time, I told her: “I ended up missing yesterday and chose not to force one before bed because I’ve been doing that a lot and it doesn’t feel 100% consensual haha.” This made me shamefully realize how accustomed I was to “forcing it” with partners. Reticent to reveal my desires—or anything beyond the vulnerability required to allow another person’s appendage inside my body—I had always assumed it was my job to rev myself up if they couldn’t be bothered to magically read my mind.
There were even 2 days where I truly tried my best to take myself to O-Town, but just couldn’t get there. After one of these, I texted her: “So I tried last night but didn’t finish. It’s like I also need to commit to seducing myself.” Yet another tragic breakthrough. In the same way I dry up at being commanded to “CUM 4 ME,” I realized how hard it is for me to get off under any kind of pressure—regardless of who it comes from. (Don’t even get me started on quickies.)
In the end, my 60-Day Orgasm Challenge (powered by Unbound, Dipsea, and NSFW XConfessions) turned out to be about a lot more than just orgasms. Sexy stuff aside, it helped me appreciate how much energy a romantic relationship requires—even when it’s just with yourself. Until (but also after) My Partner arrives, that’s the relationship I’ll be focusing on.
Now, whenever my ego is temporarily bruised after a night out cruising for guys with my annoyingly-hot friend, I can always console myself with the reminder that, 1) it’s fine that he asked for her number over mine because I don’t date boys who still have roommates, and 2) I’m hot, too, so I might as well go fuck myself.