Self-pleasure, single life and awkward dates! I loved exploring these topics and more with Dr. Megan Stubbs for this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode. Megan also has a brand new book out, Playing Without a Partner, that can help you enjoy the heck out of single life.
Listen on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio or below! Or read on for a lightly-edited transcript.
“Solo Sex, Single Sex and Awkward Dates with Dr. Megan Stubbs”
a lightly-edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
When sexologist Dr. Megan Stubbs joined me in the studio a couple of years ago, she told me that she had a pretty sex-positive upbringing. She was very curious about sexuality, spent a lot of time reading about the topic and became the go-to friend among her peers for anything sex-related.
She joined me remotely recently and said that some things never change.
I mean, I’m still that friend. Even though I’m old, now. [laughs] I’m still that go to friend always trying to learn and listen.
This time I was curious about what she didn’t learn about sex or that surprised her along the way.
I think it’s the kind of unspoken hierarchy there is in society of partnered sex being the like end all, be all goal. And so almost making masturbation seem like a lesser activity or like for second class people who can’t get sex elsewhere. It’s like, no, this can be just as great and sometimes maybe even better than having partnered sex.
Megan was able to figure solo play out for herself while those messages lingered.
I mean, it was just like a natural discovery of my own body and figuring it out. But it was never, I guess, like, celebrated or in those like contexts of like, learning about it.
It was always like talking about build up to partner sex: “Here’s how you put on a condom, here’s how not to get pregnant,” all things that require someone else. But it was never ever a conversation of like, here’s how you do sex by yourself.
In her work today, Megan hears from many people who learned similar ideas—such as that masturbation is wrong or “dirty”—and ended up putting self-pleasure on the backburner.
Definitely there’s still people who are contemporary with our age who are late discovers to the wonderful world of masturbation and self love.
And also, too, with some of the older people I work with, that are like newly divorced, and they’ve only known partner sex to be the only sex available to them. So then they’re discovering like, Oh, whoa. I don’t need to have a partner to have really great fulfilling sex. So it really runs the gamut of all the ages.
A company called Ella Paradis released a study at the end of last year that focused on sexual trends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. And it seems that lots of people have either discovered or further embraced solo play and sex toys while social distancing. Here are a few of the findings:
- 51 % of people said they’ve masturbated more during COVID
- There was also a 10% increase in the use of sex toys.
- 96% of participants reported thinking about purchasing a sex toy during the pandemic, and over 40% were considering giftine a toy to someone during the holidays. Nearly 90% said they’d be delighted to receive such a gift.
So let’s say you’re newer to the world of sex toys. It can be a bit overwhelming figuring out what toy to choose and it’s easy to have a zillion questions. I asked Megan Stubbs to share thoughts on this related question I received from a listener: “If women don’t care about penis size, why are large dildos so prevalent?” She said it’s “because people like large dildos.”
Because people like large dildos. [laughter from both] You don’t know what they’re doing with them. They can just like them as, you know, sculptural pieces on the coffee table. [laughter] And also, too, it’s not just women who are using dildos, too. So don’t be sizeist.
Totally. And sometimes you’re using just the tip anyway, right?
Yeah. Could be anything. You could be, you know, trying to deep throat that. We don’t know what you’re doing.
Totally. And there are so many sizes of toys, too. I mean, you can find every size.
Yeah. What do they say? Anything’s a sex toy if you’re brave enough?[laughter of both] I don’t stand by that phrase, though, because some things are not sex toys.
Yes. Because like our last conversation. Don’t put fruit in there.
No, no fruit, thanks.
Megan has a brand new book out, her first book, that just released, called Playing Without a Partner: A Singles’ Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness.
A review from Publishers Weekly said, “Stubbs aims to puncture stereotypes about single people’s sex lives, a subject of personal as well as professional interest.” Megan is just as skilled at debunking myths about single-hood as she is about solo play. I asked her to share one of the biggest myths about being single.
She said it’s that if you’re a single person in your 30s-
”Hi, that’s me”—there must be something wrong with you. Like why aren’t you smashed up? I mean, if I had $1, for every time someone said “how are you so single,” I’d have at least enough money to get a latte at Starbucks.
Go to school, get married, get a house, have kids, like that’s the, you know, that that’s the progression of life. And so if you stalled, air quotes, and you’re in your mid 30s and you’re still single, it’s like, what’s wrong with you?
I’m still happy, single thriving, and just living my life right now. I mean, I do want to be in a relationship. Not the right partner’s come along. And so until then, I’m going to be single. I’m not going to just jump into something that makes me unhappy just to be like, in a relationship, check that box because nothing is gained if I’m in a relationship with someone who I don’t really like.
And just like sex in general, sex while you’re single can be awesome, fun, and pleasurable, and bring challenges.
You’re always meeting someone new. You don’t know this person, you have to always be explaining yourself and there’s not that familiarity that comes with a long term relationship. But that’s with anything so, I mean, that is a pitfall, but also, like just part of the territory, you have to date.
So it’s like, you have to put yourself out there because no one’s gonna knock on your door and you be like, Oh, this is it. This is the one. You have to be brave and go explore.
All of that applies to sexual experiences and beyond. With new people, you often have to share your wants, needs, and preferences—and learn about whoever you’re dating or having sex with—in order to have positive experiences.
If you’re single for the first time in a long time and want to embrace and explore solo sex, more so or perhaps for the first time, Megan said it’s not uncommon for vulnerable feelings may come up.
So if you are just a single person, there’s no one else in your life, and you’ve never really experienced pleasure with yourself, it can be like kind of scary and confronting to be like, I’ve just had partnered sex.
That’s one reason she talks a lot about:
…the benefits of building pleasure in your own body and discovering areas you like to be touched and just really relishing in the fact that you are your own person, you can masturbate any time. It’s free, it’s healthy, it’s normal.
And then if you do want to incorporate someone else, chances are the work you’ve done with yourself can translate to them really well because you can say, “Hey, I love when you blank my blank.” And they’ll be like, “Oh, sweet, cool.” As opposed to you just kind of bumbling and fumbling around and be like, “Hope you like this. My last three partners liked this.”
And unless you’re a mind reader, you don’t know what your partners like.
If you haven’t been in a practice I’d masturbation and you’d like to be, Megan suggests these first steps:
Take time. Block out some time in your Bullet Journal or your [laughter] calendar, and really spend time getting in touch with yourself, and so, setting yourself up in a comfy area, maybe lighting some candles, just you know, keying in on all your senses to make you feel relaxed and as like comfortable as you can be. And then just slowly touch and explore yourself and discover again, no orgasm on the table.
We know nipples are hot and clitoris is hot but maybe there’s something about, you know, a caress on your neck. Maybe that feels super nice. Or maybe like, you like when your thighs are gripped. There’s a lot of, you know, tissue down there.
So really discover different sensations in your body, and then definitely explore the hotspots and see how that feels.
I love that. I feel like so often an easy thing to fall into is turning to masturbation when something turns us on.
What are your thoughts on specifically setting aside time for that exploration and not being like, “Oh, I have to wait till I see this hot movie or I see this hot person” or whatever.
Yeah, I mean, you’re in control of your life. You can decide like, Hey, I know if I you know, see a hot movie, I’ll be turned on. Go find that hot movie. Or go read some, you know, erotica, or listen to some, you know, hot audio stories, and be purposeful in your actions because you can easily turn yourself on.
You don’t have to wait until you’re at the grocery store and you’re like, Wow! That cashier is fine. [laughter] You can, you know, find anything you want with technology now.
[a few bars of upbeat, acoustic music]
Now onto something that is not a turn-on: super cringe-y, awkward dates. Although here’s a tip: solo play can be an awesome way to destress or refresh after. I think most of us who have dated have had at least one not-fun experience.
Here is one of Megan Stubbs’ cringe-iest.
To me, it’s a prime example of a date with someone who you are very mismatched with. You feel a lusty connection at first, but it turns out that you are not compatible at all.
She was in grad school at the time and working at a well-known coffee shop.
And we had a customer that would come in all the time because he worked down the street, and he was super hot, and we were like flirting, getting to know each other.
And we were like, we should go get like sushi together. And I was like, “Great. Sounds good.” And it was summertime and we both live in the same city. So we were like, okay, we’ll meet at the sushi place downtown and go from there.
So, date was at seven o’clock. It was a really casual restaurant so I just wore like a sundress, drove downtown, parked in the parking ramp. And as I’m walking to the restaurant, I was oh, no. I forgot my phone. But it was like 6:15. I was like, Oh, he’ll be there. Like, why would I need my cell phone? Famous last words.
So I sit there and it’s like, you know, prime time dinnertime. Couples everywhere. And so I’m like, “Oh, two please.” And so I sit down, they pour me water. I wait. And I wait. And I wait. And I wait. There are people staring at me at this table with two glasses of water and me just casually sipping my water being like, what’s going on? I don’t know. I think I waited there for 20 minutes. And I’m like, do I tip on water? I don’t know.
I just ran away. I left. I get back to the car and of course I miss text messages. And it’s like, “yooooooooooooo…” ‘Yo’ with like eighty o’s after the y. And I’m just like, This isn’t good.
I call him and he’s like, “Hey, yo! I’m at the spot.” And he’s like, “We said this restaurant.” And I was like, “No one said that restaurant.” Like, what? Wrong restaurant and I was like, “Okay, it’s fine. I’ll meet you at the other sushi restaurant.”
So I drive there. And I’m just like, Okay, it’s fine. He’s super hot. Like, it’ll be okay. I get there and he sees me walk in. And he’s like, “Hey, yo! I’m in the corner.” And I’m just like, Oh my god. Everyone in the restaurant can hear you because you’re screaming.
And I wasn’t expecting, you know, him to be in some kind of like, suit and tie situation, but he was in tearaway pants, his running shoes because he ran there. And a snapback hat. I sit down. He’s like, “You want to do a sake bomb?” I’m like, “No. Absolutely not.”
What is a sake bomb?
You have a pint of beer, and then you put chopsticks on top, and then you put a shot glass full of sake on top, and then you bang the table until the shot glass falls into the pint of beer. So I passed, he did not. [laughter] And I ordered three sushi rolls, and he said, “Damn, you eat a lot.” [laughter]
He did not.
This one of the worst dates I’ve ever been on. [laughing]
Oh my gosh. What did you say?
I just look at him and I look at the server. And she’s like, “What the fuck?”
So he orders and then we make, I don’t know, really banal, small talk. And I’m just like, I gotta get out of here. Dinner comes. He does two more sake bombs, banging on the table—like I’m hot right now just telling the story—and not in a good way hot. This is a bad, embarrassing hot. [laughter]
So, the date ended, and it was so awkward, because friends were eating there, too. And they were like, “Hey, Megan.” And I was like, “Hey.” And they were like, “Oh, who’s your friend?” And I was like, “Oh, this is so and so.” She’s like, “We’re going to this bar afterwards. Like, do you want to come meet us?” I said, “No, no. We can’t. Sorry.”
And then I just didn’t go on another date with him. He still came in to see me at the coffee shop but I was just like, oh my god, no.
Like I said, such a mismatch. I feel like that guy could be a good fit for someone else, someone who’s into sake bombs and doesn’t mind loud spectacles during dinner. I also see him at hippie-themed campfires or parties for some reason… But that “wow you eat a lot” comment was definitely offbase for anyone, especially to someone like Megan, who talks so much about size acceptance. Just…no.
If you have a cringe-worthy date of your own, Megan shared this advice:
You know, you just not everything is great all the time, as long as everything was consensual but the delivery wasn’t great, you know, that happens. Are you willing to meet this person again and communicate about what happened last time, do some follow up talk and maybe give them another chance? Or you can say, “I’ve washed my hands. No more, never again.” Don’t feel like this will be forever. There’s always another chance out there.
To learn more from Dr. Megan Stubbs, purchase her book, Playing Without a Partner: A Singles’ Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness, most anywhere books are sold. It’s full of her expert advice and many more stories. She told me her biggest hope is that readers will go away from it feeling confident that you can have fulfilling happiness and a great life while single.
While you’re enjoying your solo sex times, don’t forget to use a good lubricant!
One awesome brand I recommend and have been enjoying personally lately is Promescent. Their aloe-based lube has such a nice texture, and as a bonus, it’s good for your skin. Promescent is also known for their Climax Control Spray, which helps people with a penis last longer during penetration, whether they struggle with premature ejaculation or not.
Save 15% on your first Promescent order here!
Stream the the full episode, which includes Dr. Megan Fleming‘s thoughts for a listener who’s about to start dating and wonders if it’s okay to mention her need for potential dates to be vaccinated, up above or on your favorite podcast app!
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