I'm Taking The Lent Sex Challenge - Up For It?
The Debrief: I'm going to ditch one bad sex habit over the next 40 days. Care to join me?
Nothing will persuade me to give up chocolate for Lent. Nor am I ditching booze, cheese, or any of the other things that go in my mouth and make me happy. But, occasionally, I like to use excuses like Lent and New Year to set exciting life goals and challenges, so I've recruited a bunch of people to join me in giving themselves a sex challenge that they can stick to it for a whole 40 days.
Why? Well, anyone can fall into bad habits, or have sexual problems that they want to overcome – I'm no exception. Last year, after getting a sex toy power tool that makes me come in less than a couple of minutes, I realised that I was becoming a bit over-reliant on it, like getting a new sandwich toaster and eating nothing but grilled cheese for months. Although I've never really lingered over a wank, since getting the toy it's gone from 'fun' to 'functional' in less than the time it takes to switch the bloody thing on. While there's nothing wrong with a speedy one-off-the-wrist, I realised I'd started taking it for granted, viewing masturbation as 'something to do' rather than something to really enjoy. I wondered if I could set myself a couple of goals which would help me reconnect with the things I used to love, and ditch the attitude that it was all about the end goal.
So, for the next 40 days, I'm ditching my sex toy power tool (or rather, storing it lovingly in a drawer and weeping for its lonely soul) and focusing on more mindful me-time. No vibrations, lots of fantasies, and no wank that lasts less than ten minutes.
Charlie, who writes at Sex Blog of Sorts, is joining in with me.
'Ever since I got first vibe at 18 [a 'Vibro Dolphin' toy which focuses on clitoral stimulation], I've lost the knack of making myself come with my fingers. I pretty much gave up manual wanking as soon as I got it, and because I still use something very similar most of the time, I've lost the knack of making myself come and therefore showing guys the best way to do it. I mainly want to do this so I stand a greater chance of coming during sex.'
So while Charlie and I focus on fewer vibrations and more manual masturbation, what are other people up to?
40 days and nights without porn
29-year-old XWolf276 (not his real name, obvs, he's going by his Twitter handle) explained that he'd been considering going on a porn detox for a while. He often feels like he's watching too much, visiting tube sites like Pornhub and Redtube around four times a day.
'I don't think there's anything wrong with watching porn, but for me it's becoming like I'm immune to it. I went to see the 50 Shades film with my fiancée at the weekend and when it got to the sex scenes I might as well have been watching the news.
'I hope that after I've done this, I'll be able to get off without relying on watching videos of other people. My chances of success are about 50/50 – I've tried to cut down in the past, but I always end up going back to watching porn daily. But now I've set a target it might help.'
Reclaiming my orgasm from bad pharma
Louise has a really interesting story, and it's one that we really don't talk about enough. After starting medication to deal with depression and anxiety, her sex-drive plummeted. Orgasms which used to come through penetrative sex as well as clitoral stimulation became really difficult, and although her supportive GP offered some options, none of them really worked.
'I'd have a kind of "echo" of feeling horny, and I'd try and rub one out, but get frustrated so get out a toy and then doze off. I stopped masturbating at night, and tried on the weekends when I had more time, but after running down a brand new battery in one 90-minute session without the relief of orgasm, I realised I had a problem.'
After some discussion online about her problem – anorgasmia, if you're having similar issues and want to Google around the topic – she stumbled across a fantastic article by sexuality writer Christa Anne in which Christa discussed her own 'orgasm quest'.
'And I suddenly thought, hang on a moment, I can do this, I can get this back! I shared the post on my Facebook wall and had a few share their own experiences and the stigma they'd felt about their orgasm and/or sex problems associated with their mental health. So it became almost something feminist, with me reclaiming my orgasm from the bad pharma.'
Louise admits it's a tough challenge, but she's keen to find something that can reliably give her an orgasm - she's stocked up on tingle and warming lubes, is planning to experiment with a couple of new toys, and also set aside some time to spend by herself with porn and erotica to browse. There's plenty to explore within the 40 days, and I'm so glad Louise signed up for the challenge. While the NHS website has some information on orgasm issues, it isn't exactly a common topic of conversation. If you have similar problems, you're absolutely not alone.
The 40-day edge
I have a deep fascination with edging – when you bring yourself to near-orgasm then hold off, repeating until you're a sexually-frustrated mess of desire. I've been known to ask guys I'm seeing to do it for a few days before I come home from holiday, to guarantee an exciting jizzsplosion when I get back, but no one I've been with has managed more than a week. Ian, who is challenging himself to a lent-long edging session, has a much more impressive record: A whopping 25 days:
'As a long-term singleton, my sex life is decidely solo and somewhat simplistic. I'd fallen into the habit of masturbating rather leisurely. I'd begin one film or fantasy, and keep switching them up, never pushing overly hard to reach the peak. An hour would drift by maybe even two. I genuinely began to get concerned that the amount of time I was consuming was, just maybe, not entirely heathly. It certainly wasn't necessarily productive.'
During his previous 25-day edge, Ian explains that his senses were heightened at first – understandably he became more aware of his sexuality during those first days of abstinence. But after that things dropped off – his sexual desire 'fell off a cliff' before swiftly returning again. His aim over lent is to edge, but crucially never orgasm, for the entire 40 days and 40 nights – partly out of a desire to compete with his personal best, partly to give him more time to spend on hobbies, but mainly to give him a chance to explore the cerebral side of his sexuality further. He admits, too, that the climax on day 40 will probably be well worth the wait. How does he fancy his chances?
'It's somewhat dependent on mood versus willpower, to be honest.'
Something sexy every day
Marcus is 60 years old, and has been celibate for around 15 years. When he was younger he was very sexually active, but recently he finds that he's suppressed his sexuality without really thinking about it. His aim over lent is to recreate his erotic side, and give it appropriate outlets. How?
'I need to do, or think, or say, something every day that contributes to this restoration of sensuality, sexuality and erotic positivity. I need to find ways of pleasuring myself more effectively, but also to experience touch again, and to drink in an erotic atmosphere.'
As one who spends far too much time living with my own erotic meanderings, I find this a really interesting challenge – I'm especially intrigued to know how Marcus and Louise both get on, because their challenges are ones which require actively doing things rather than – like my own – refraining from a particular thing that they've grown to rely on.
I'm not sure about my chances of success, to be honest – with power tools safely stashed away, I'm a bit worried that I might end up falling into lethargy and not bothering to wank at all. Maybe I'll end up just relying on the orgasms I get from sex to get me through 40 days and nights. To bring back the sandwich toaster analogy – if you were used to grilled cheese and someone took it away, would you bother becoming a gourmet chef? Or would you just order takeaway? Charlie, whose challenge is similar to mine, has similar worries.
Marcus explains that he's got no idea what his chances of success are, or even what success would look like: 'I have just remembered how vital my sexual self is to me, to keep me sane, and to let me find real pleasure.'
And that nails what I'm aiming for with my personal challenge, too. Whether it's giving something up or pushing yourself into something new, you're aiming to re-learn what you love about sex, or masturbation.
Things like diets, exercise, and giving up chocolate for Lent might be aims to get you towards an 'ideal' body type, but a really cracking sex challenge is about identifying what makes you happy, and giving yourself time to do it.
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Picture: Matilda Hill-Jenkins
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