I have read a lot of wonderfully informative and understanding articles about crying during or after sex1, and it gives me all the feel goods to see such supportive discussions about the many emotional responses that can accompany sex. However, a topic I have yet to see any resources on, outside of forums and Yahoo Ask posts, is crying during or after masturbation.
Most of those posts start with questions like, “is this normal” and “what’s wrong with me,” and they elicit a range of responses from support to psychoanalysis to people like PartyGalAnne bestowing the wisdom, “lol you need to get a life” [well, some people’s party includes crying, ANNE]. It’s due to hours of reading and dissatisfaction with these responses that I wanted to share my experience and resulting insight.
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Sometimes, I cry when I masturbate.
It’s tough to type that without feeling a pathetic twinge (especially in bold pink type). But, fuuuHHHHHUUUUck that! Crying and weakness are not exclusive. Yes, I’m pulling the “it’s okay to cry” line. It may seem redundant and cheesy, but sometimes we need a reminder that people cry for lots of different reasons: joy, grief, distress, frustration, comfort, cute dog commercials, but no matter the reason, it’s not wrong or shameful.
It is absolutely okay to let yourself cry and to give yourself the care you need; however, it’s important to question the trigger of this urge, especially in confusing situations like during masturbation, because understanding can help you better care for yourself.
I don’t usually cry when I masturbate, and I never did until the end of a 4+ year relationship. During the final months of that time, my partner and I didn’t have sex. In the months preceding those, it was infrequent and often shaded with feelings of distance and insecurity. So, I became that self conscious image in my head of the lonely, sad, individual who is often comically placed in movies and sitcoms, masturbating and crying while thinking about the person they want to be with. And the person I wanted to be with was my partner, so when I had an orgasm alone, it reminded me of the insurmountable and expanding distance between us.
After I had an orgasm, my muscles would relax and with that would come unstoppable tears. This response was a warning, telling me that I was not okay, a warning I’m thankful for. My body could sense the distance between us even as I told my brain to ignore it, but I eventually had to listen.
Since then, crying during masturbation has had another source for me: release. With pleasure and especially orgasm, comes a physical letting-go. That letting-go can be refreshing and awakening and scary, which is plenty of emotion to cry from, and therein find a new level of vulnerability with myself.
It still catches me off guard, and I always question “WHY!?” and every time, I find a slightly different explanation. The important thing is to not invalidate yourself with generalized ideas of normalcy, and instead allow yourself the empathy and understanding you’d afford anyone else crying in front of you.
My experiences can only inform my responses, so there are millions of other perspectives on this. I believe that help comes from sharing our own educational experiences though, so I hope this help or makes you think, and you can always comment with thoughts and experiences below.