At every live Sexpert Q&A event, I distribute 3×5 cards and ask people to write down any question they might have about sex. And at almost every one of those events I get questions like:
“How much porn is too much porn?”
“How much is too much when it comes to jacking off?”
“How much foreplay is too much for most men?”
“How much fingering is too much in girl-girl sex? Like, when I should stop?”
“How much sex too much sex?”
The similarities in these questions is glaring, even though they’re ostensibly all about different things. How much is too much? Our culture is entrenched in shame about enjoying sex, with a partner or without. Lingering over pleasure is seen as indulgent at best, and investing time and energy in sexual exploration is frequently looked down on. Our sex lives are supposed to be a secret, something we should never talk about with people other than our partners. (And, to be honest, not enough people even talk to their partners about the sex they’re sharing with each other.)
While discretion is the better part of valor, this level of discretion means that most folks don’t have any idea what other people are really doing in the bedroom (or on the kitchen table, or at the dungeon). We don’t have a good sense of what’s typical in terms of sexual expression. This leads many people to doubt themselves, doubt their partners, even doubt the validity of sex and masturbation as a healthy activity. I’m not suggesting that you broadcast your activities and proclivities for all the world to hear! But there’s no doubt that our culture’s hush-hush stance on sexy things means that we’re in the dark about normal human sexuality. (The current state of sex ed in the schools only worsens this problem, but that’s a topic for a different day.)
Now let’s get back to the questions. If you have wondered any of these same things, I encourage you to engage in some reflection, and some solid communication with any partners you may have. Instead of asking “How much masturbation is too much?” try asking, “How much masturbation is too much for me?” Instead of “How much foreplay is too much?” ask your partner, “How much foreplay is too much for you, and for us?” This is a small but important distinction.
To help you answer the new questions, I offer a few guidelines. If all of your sexual activity is consensual, if you’re able to get to class and work on time, if you’re finding time to shower and eat meals, if you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, and if everyone is generally having a nice time, then you’re not doing anything wrong. As a matter of fact, it sounds like you’re doing most things right.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her a question at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you with an answer.