What Your Masturbation Style Says About You

Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
This story was originally published on September 14, 2014.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I didn’t really know how to touch myself until I was in college. I was sexually active, sure, but I was about as comfortable with a vibrator as I was with a sword (a.k.a., not at all) and I was utterly clueless about what to do with my own hands.
Is this surprising? We tend to talk about sex a lot (Did you get laid last night? Was that guy from Tinder any good in bed? What will sex be like in space? Did you see the new 50 Shades trailer?). But, rarely do we discuss the details of those sex sessions that only include ourselves: how we like to do it, where we like to do it, and what we do that makes us feel so fist-clenchingly good. And, that’s seriously sad, since self-pleasure is one of the best kinds of pleasure.
So, we made this guide. Think of it as the grown-up version of those Seventeen magazine quizzes that told you how to choose the right outfit for your personality — except that this one is about touching yourself. Masturbation is important (it relieves stress, reverses heart disease, and feels awesome). But, hey, we're not trying to take ourselves too seriously here in the Masturbation Department. So, read on — and if you find yourself in a 7th-grade-esque fit of giggles as you're figuring out which masturbation style best suits you, we'll consider our job well done.
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Shameless Self-Pleasurer
You’re an early adopter of outlandish fashion trends. You use the poop emoji without a hint of chagrin. You like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. And, when it comes to masturbation, you leave the door wide open.

Touching yourself without a care in the world takes a huge degree of self-confidence, says Carlyle Jansen, founder of Good For Her and author of Sex Yourself, a forthcoming book about women’s masturbation. “Leaving that door open means there’s a possibility that somebody can walk in — and that might add a little excitement about being discovered,” she explains. This is a type of exhibitionism, which is a common fetish where you enjoy the danger of potentially being watched. If you leave the bedroom door wide open and neglect to close the blinds before you go in for a romp with yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an exhibitionist. But, then again, you Shameless Self-Pleasurers know that if someone did happen to walk by, they’d think you looked crazy-hot — and honestly, what’s a better turn-on than that?
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Under-Cover Lover
There’s snuggling in bed, and then there’s snuggling in bed with your hand between your legs. No shame in that, girlfriend — unless, of course, you feel bad about self-pleasuring yourself like this.

“When women start masturbating, especially if it’s when we’re young, we often don’t want to be discovered,” says Jansen. “So, being under the covers, face-down, is one way to make sure that if someone walks in, no one will know what’s going on. And sometimes, there’s an element of that shame left over [in adulthood].”

Sometimes, this discomfort can seep into our sexual preferences at large. “A woman who discreetly pleasures herself in this position often feels guilty about masturbating, but she still craves orgasmic pleasure,” says sexologist Ava Cadell, PhD, who wrote the Idiot’s Guide to the Kama Sutra. Her take? If you're an Under-Cover Lover, you might be more submissive — and into sex that feels a little more buttoned-up. On the other hand, if grinding on top of something is just what feels best, then woman-on-top might be your go-to move (in which case, ride ‘em, cowgirl).
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
All In
When you go "all-in" during poker, everyone knows that you’ve got something amazing going on. And, to be honest, the feeling is not that different when you're an All-In masturbator.

Whether it’s your own fingers, a dildo, or a vibrator, regularly masturbating intravaginally is a good sign that you know precisely what you need to get yourself off. Dr. Cadell says this could mean knowing exactly where your G-Spot, U-Spot, or even A-Spot is — and just how to touch it. Bonus: There’s absolutely nothing that makes you a better lover than knowing what you like.
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Remember that episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte discovers The Rabbit and literally refuses to leave her bed because she wants to spend all day rolling around with her new vibrator? Just about every woman has that oh-my-god-what-was-my-life-before-this moment when she first experiences the tingles of a vibrator. But, some women — like Charlotte, and maybe you Battery-Powered gals —have a hard time moving on from it.

That’s because the electricity from a vibrator can act as a stand-in for another person. “When you’re with a partner, you have that added excitement and energy that’s really hard to match when you’re on your own,” says Jansen. One way of getting that buzz? Plugging in.

But, Jansen says that needing some voltage isn’t a handicap, per se. “Just like some of us need glasses in order to see, some of us need power in order to orgasm.” Luckily, that power comes in multiple speeds and can be cranked up at your beck and call. Vroom vroom.
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Weekend Warrior
Maybe you don’t have enough time for daily self-love, but when the weekend rolls around, you go HAM. We’re talking about a lazy Sunday morning diddle, with orgasm after orgasm rolling in, and nothing else on the agenda. Some women make time on the weekends for brunch — others make time for masturbation.

“A woman with enough time on her hands to pleasure herself endlessly is a woman on a mission,” says Dr. Cadell. That mission likely has something to do with meeting your own needs (after all, your vagina has probably missed you) as well as making the most of self-pleasure time (you haven’t been practicing your Kegels all week for nothing!).

Jansen calls this “maximizing” the masturbation session — as in, “If I’m going through the trouble of finding a private time and getting myself into the mood, I’m going to make it worth it!” Why settle for one orgasm when you can have five? And, not just five orgasms, but the most intense five orgasms possible? The Weekend Warrior is the type of person who, if she's going to go out to eat, wants to go to the best damn restaurant in town. Except, why go to a restaurant when your bed is right there? Priorities.
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
The Romancer
You light some candles (the lavender ones that smell so nice), and you draw a warm bath — with bubbles. You turn on some mood music, slip into your silkiest negligee, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You’re having a date night tonight — with yourself.

Not every woman needs the full monty before a little diddle, but The Romancer does — and she makes masturbation into a luxurious experience. “Self-pleasure, for her, is about seduction, and she isn't going to go for a quickie,” says Dr. Cadell. If you’re putting on the Ritz for yourself, you know exactly what you want, and you’re in charge of making it happen, Romancer. Who needs a partner when you can have a warm bath — and the whole bottle of wine — to yourself?
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Just The Fingertip
There are plenty of things that are even better when they’re outside: drive-in movies, roadside food trucks, the concert stages at music festivals. Masturbation can be the same way. You Just The Fingertip folks have no need to go all-in; you know that the clitoris, located outside and above your vagina, is what you need to get off.

Dr. Cadell says it’s about “keeping things simple.” This is a woman who knows that stimulating the 8,000-some-odd nerve endings of her clit is a fast-track toward orgasm, and can build intense pleasure with minimal effort. Remember Harry Potter’s classmates learning to wave a wand? Just the flick of the wrist, and wingardium leviosa!
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Quick & Dirty
Missy Elliot may have cursed the “One Minute Man,” but when it comes to getting it on with yourself, Quick & Dirty fans know there’s nothing wrong with getting straight to the point. Sometimes, you want to be in and out — bing, bang, boom.

“This is often someone who’s more about stress relief than sexual self-exploration,” says Jansen. “It’s about letting go of the day or about trying to get to sleep — sort of like, ‘I’ve got an itch, and I’m going to scratch it.’”

In her opinion, it’s better to go for it and satisfy that itch — even if it means having a super-short self-pleasure session.
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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Solo Novice
Some women don’t have a self-pleasure style because, well, they simply don’t self-pleasure. This type of abstinence is more common than you’d think — and even women who do masturbate often sideline it in order to prioritize other (seemingly more important) things. Although, really, what’s more important than giving yourself a little lovin’?

If you’re looking for a style to adapt, Jansen recommends starting by hopping in the shower. “Often, if women don’t masturbate, it’s because they’ve been told that masturbation is dirty and bad. But, in the shower, you’re getting clean, and that’s positive.” Plus, if you have a detachable shower head, you can get an entirely new sensation on your vulva that’s like a cross between your fingers and a super-gentle vibrator.

Need convincing? “Think of it as a way to be able to help your partner know what you like,” recommends Jansen. When you learn the positions and pressures that you like best, it makes it all the easier to ask for what you want when you’re with a partner. But, the best thing about masturbation is that you get to ditch the need for a partner altogether — this is all about you, baby.

“And, it’s good for you anyway; it boosts your endorphins, and there’s evidence that orgasms reduce heart disease and diabetes,” Jansen continues. Seriously, do it for your health — or do it for your sex life, or just do it because it feels good. If we weren’t meant to touch ourselves, then why would our arms be exactly the right length to reach our vaginas? Hm?

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