Single On Valentine’s Day: Seeking Pleasure (A Guest Article by Amanda Rodriguez)

2019 feels like a year of expansion in our culture: promoting bodily autonomy to expressing and emphasizing consent, exploring new avenues of dating and hooking up, and finally and in my opinion, most importantly, having open dialog about pleasure.

Growing up as a blossoming young lady in the late 90’s, sex was still a very taboo thing. Whether I was skimming the pages of my favorite beauty magazines or seeing sweaty, sexed-up pop stars in music videos, one thing was the same — the messages were conflicting.

The idea that these same girls were committed to “saving themselves” and their sacred virginity for marriage felt like a bit of a mindfuck for me.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Amanda Rodriguez

 This also translated at school. Even at the age of 13, everyone seemed to be talking about sex and dating, but strangely if you were found out to be actually doing the said deed; you were deemed a slut and treated as an outcast. It was clear that I couldn’t confide in my girlfriends and sex education was lacking. With no discussion in finding pleasure with yourself or truly any connection or understanding of my own anatomy, I was left with tracking my period in my school planner and for the love of Christ, never getting myself pregnant.

It’s no wonder some of us still harbor shame and confusion when it comes to seeking pleasure in intimacy, it was never a part of the conversation.

Years later, after plenty of unfulfilling sex and very little discussion on what actually felt right for me, I decided to seek out what that was. Through therapy and living in the age where there is a corner of the interweb for everyone, I found the education and courage I needed to find that first with myself and then with partners.

So where am I going with this? It started with, wait for it….MINDFULNESS. But, Amanda! What exactly is mindfulness? It’s much more than a buzzword, my sweet baby. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. In other terms, it’s getting out of your head and into your current situation. But how exactly does this apply to sex?

Photo courtesy of Amanda Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Amanda Rodriguez

Within yourself, it starts with having an honest discussion. Take time to write down certain aspects about sex and how they make you feel. I write about past experiences or ones that are upcoming.  I also write down feelings that I want to discuss with a partner before I actually have “the real talk”. In my past it was difficult to have authentic and open conversations with partners (flash back to lack of sex education). This lead to moments where consent, boundaries, and preferences were a blur. Journaling is a safe and healthy way to find the words when it comes to your needs and wants. And remember, nothing you write down is wrong and should never come with shame or censorship. Feel free and forget the judgement. Reread your words and say them out loud.

With time and practice, those words and phrases that felt taboo or uncomfortable will roll off of your tongue.

So this Valentine’s Day, be it if you have a partner or plan on having a fun filled evening with yourself, (the best lover you’ll ever know) take time to practice mindfulness. Here’s 10 things I recommend for a good time:

1. Buy yourself a piece of jewelry

2. Charge your vibrator.

3. Squeeze on your dog or cat and thank them for the unconditional love.

4. Take a hot bath.

5. Call your friends and tell them that you love them

6. Order your favorite takeout w/ gfs (hint, it's always Thai food)

7. Walk to the bodega and get yourself a seltzer and some ice cream  

8. Wear sexy lingerie and enjoy the view in front of your bedroom mirror

9. Have a Robyn dance party at your place (shout out to the now defunct Brooklyn Glasshouse circa 2009 beloved dance parties. This Party Is Killing You: A Night of All Robyn Everything was were I think I truly found myself.)

10. Drink some water before bed and meditate. 

Because as Queen RuPaul always says,

“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Amanda Rodriguez is a makeup artist and feminist based in Long Beach, CA. Come hang out with her on the interweb: @udamanduh.

See how the other half lives. Read “Single on Valentine’s Day: Seeking Yourself” by Jade Alectra.