What is edging?
Anouszka Tate answers your sex related questions - this week on edging and whether masturbation is all fine and dandy if you're in a relationship...
What on earth is edging? Have heard it casually thrown in to conversations a lot recently and need to know if I’m missing out on something?!
Firstly, I sincerely hope you’ve submitted this question to the right place, because in horticultural circles edging is a term that describes lawn maintenance. You’re in for a shock if that’s what you were looking for.
In my circle, edging is the art of stopping yourself from reaching orgasm right when you’re on, well, the edge.
There’s that moment when you know you’re about to free fall into a magical climax and that, for a short while at least, you’ll have absolutely no control over your shuddering body. Edging sees you or your partner bringing you to the brink, before backing off and going again.
“Ok, so I’m stopping myself from having an orgasm??” I hear you cry! Lack of lawn-based chat was shock enough for one day!
Well, yes. But for good reason.
Firstly an orgasm shouldn’t be the sole goal of sex anyway. And secondly, for most people edging makes the eventual orgasm even more intense. The drawn out process increases blood flow and sensitivity in the genitals, and then of course there’s the psychological excitement that comes with the basic notion of desperately wanting what you can’t have.
In order for edging to work, you have to be super conscious of your own body and what gets you teetering on the edge. You’re already well aware that I’m a huge advocate of mindful masturbation, so it won’t come as a surprise when I say that’s where you need to start.
Do whatever it is you know makes you come, but when you reach that precipice withdraw your stimulation. For some people that might just mean slowing down your movements, for others it could be stopping completely, perhaps opening your eyes and taking deep breaths.
You could also try the ‘squeeze’ method. That is, finding yourself on the edge and squeezing the tip of the penis for 30 seconds or so before beginning to build up the intensity again.
Repeat this process as many times as you find pleasurable.
Aside from pure pleasure, this practice is also used by some men to help gain more control over their ejaculation. In that context you might have heard it being referred to as the stop-start method. It’ll help your body learn to stay in a heightened state of arousal for longer.
Edging is also used in partnered sex, often as a control method. If you’re not sure about inflicting pain but want to explore the power dynamics of BDSM, edging is a great place to start.
I’m well aware that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I’m afraid I am going to bring up the fact that the most important thing here is communication. You have to talk about limits. Never toy with a partner by delaying their pleasure without their consent.
You have to talk about limits, but you also have to talk about all those things you – or they – learnt during solo sex. Ie. does this person want the stimulation to stop completely? How long do they need before their body is ready for that stimulation to start again? How will they let you know they’re ready to be pushed all the way over the edge this time…?
Where do you stand on masturbation in a relationship? My partner and I have opposing views… Yes? No? Only if the other one isn’t home?
Masturbation in a relationship? It’s a big yes from me.
I don’t know who that means I’ve sided with, but let me try to convince the losing party.
I prefer calling masturbation ‘solo sex’. Why? Well, indulge me while I narcissistically quote myself from a previous column…
“It reframes masturbation so it’s not either just a lame last resort, or a threat to partners, but a legitimate, pleasurable sex act in its own right. In this buffet of sex, wanking isn’t better or worse than any other exploit, just one of many wonderful different options that you might choose to engage in for different reasons at different times.”
Pitting masturbation directly against partnered sex suggests that one has more benefits than the other. I don’t think that’s true. They just have different benefits, so understanding what you want out of sex in this particular moment is key.
Sometimes the purpose of sex is to feel emotionally intimate with another person, sometimes it’s just to have a quick orgasm and be done with it, sometimes it’s for sensual exploration of your body. Think of partnered sex as connecting with others, and solo sex as connecting with yourself. Both are equally important. Which sex act(s) will best satisfy what you’re craving right now?
If your partner sometimes has a wank instead of having sex with you, please do not worry – they are not unfulfilled. They don’t suddenly find you desperately unattractive. Your relationship is not crumbling. It likely just means that they’ve got to go to work in five minutes and don’t have time to get sweaty and change their clothes. In this situation solo sex is the most efficient route to orgasm.
In the same breath, knowing that you both have a right to masturbate might also make you feel less pressured when you’re not really in the mood for partnered sex. Let your partner know you still care about their pleasure, so you’re happy for them to touch themselves. Perhaps you don’t feel up for physically engaging yourself, but you don’t mind being present if they’d like that.
Crucially, for whichever one of you it is that isn’t keen on masturbation now that you’re together, wanking will better your partnered sex. When you’re present and mindful during masturbation you’re able to take what you’ve learnt back to your partner. I’m quite sure they want to do whatever it is that brings you most pleasure; you’re now able to point out precisely which parts of your body you most like being touched, so they’re not wasting their time doing stuff you’re entirely unbothered by.
What are you confused, curious, or concerned about? Ask me a question in the comments below or on my Instagram page, and I’ll do my best to answer in my next column!
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