Of them all, the one that never—or at least rarely—appears is ironic. And yet it’s a pretty much perfect word to describe edging. After all, what else would you call boosting the OMG power of orgasm…by not having them?
But what is precisely is edging and, more than that, why do I and other sexperts highly recommend making it an essential part of your sex life?
Why You Should Try Edging
By now, we’re all pretty familiar with how coming … well, how it comes: arousal (whether by your own hand, with a sex toy or with a partner) to set the wheels in motion, stimulation to stoke the furnace, and then (to stay with my silly locomotive-themed metaphors) chugga chugga whoo-hoo!—with a burst of gloriously and thoroughly enjoyable hot release.
Edging does all this, but with the twist that as an orgasm seems inevitable, there’s a conscious pulling back from the—you guessed it—edge.
No matter the configuration of their genitals or what or who they find arousing, anyone can do it. It's true, depictions of edging play in adult entertainment tend to be more inclined towards the penis-equipped, but those with vulvas can also enjoy the sweet torment.
When you talk about why anyone would willingly step away from an orgasm's bliss, the answers and many and varied, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on a few choice (that is, my choice) ones.
Exerting or Relinquishing Control
- Safely, emotionally and physically
- Sanely, where you both are aware of the risks involved
- And more than anything, consensually.
Speaking of BDSM, there’s a long-standing tradition of edging in domination and submission play, where a Master or Mistress will command a submissive to masturbate, only to tell them to immediately cease as they approach orgasm. The dom can also wield a toy, watching their sub for signs of "getting close" or demanding the sub inform them when orgasm is imminent. The enjoyment comes from the dominant exercising their control and the submissive relinquishing it.
Learning the Cues
Again, that’s just one example, specifically in a BDSM context. Another big reason to edge is that for many, it can be an essential tool in controlling their sexual response cycle, enhancing orgasm, and as a way to learn about who they are as a sexual person.
Starting at the top of this list, by going near and then holding back, edging helps to understand in greater and greater detail what an impending orgasm feels like—as opposed to letting it do its own thing.
If done enough times, and with enough concentration on what’s happening and why this practice can lead to gaining a greater handle on the entire process: maybe even to a level where they can repeatedly—and easily—approach and then push back an orgasm many times over the course of a single sexual encounter.
Adding Some Oomph
This also makes it an excellent technique for those who feel that they orgasm too quickly—or too slowly, for that matter—as knowing more about your particular orgasm-tipping point means you can get there when you want.
In regards to adding more oomph to your already enjoyable oomphing orgasms, the idea is here is that by approaching and then denying yourself, your arousal will build and build and build until when eventually released, it’ll be like a dam bursting open—or a boiler exploding, if you’re missing my train metaphor.
Then there’s the benefit I think is one of the best—not that these others aren’t totally fab—reasons to get into edging: that by paying attention to how your mind, with your body right along with it, operates when it comes to sex and orgasm you can begin to understand yourself as never before.
In particular, by studying the coming triggers all of us have: those favorite sexual fantasies; a favorite toy that hits just the right way; thrilling oral, anal, or genital sensations; stimulating sights, smells, and tastes; and so forth that makes our comes come.
With this initial self-knowledge, it’s then possible to dig deeper still, examining where these triggers come from and, from there, where to find more to investigate and try out—and perhaps gain greater insight and self-acceptance of every aspect of your sexuality.
No matter the whys, which as I mentioned are way more than what I’ve touched on above, the next question is the pragmatic of how: as in ways to explore, with or without a partner, the hot—and then cold and then hot and then cold—world of edging.
How to Start Edging
Just as there are all kinds of reasons to consider edging, there are a ton, and then some, of methods to try.
Again, narrowing it down a bit, one of my personal favorites is by following the maxim that simpler is better. By this, I mean to do what you usually do, though instead of letting things go normally, ease off as you get nearer and nearer to orgasm.
For those used to coming quickly or expediently, this can mean putting aside a good, extended amount of time. Then, as you get more and more used to it, add some withdrawal techniques like taking your hands off your property, switching off your sex toy, or maybe by taking a lot of slow, calming breaths.
The goal here isn’t so much to stop things completely, but if that works for you in your pursuit of gaining control, then more power to you. On a small side note, for those with penises, ligature-type toys like cock rings can sometimes help, as they restrict blood floor—thus reducing sensation—as well as helping to prevent ejaculation.
With a Special Someone
If you have a partner and edging has piqued your interest, you can get things rolling with the absolute mainstay of any healthy sexual relationship: communication. So begin by talking with your partner about edging, why you’d like to give it a whirl, what it might bring to your mutual enjoyments, and, from there, work on the specifics.
For relationship edging play, I suggest bouts of single person masturbation sessions before contact-partner activities. My reason is it can often be emotionally challenging to willingly (ahem) disconnect from another person, particularly if they’re having a good time.
The extra-bonus to solo edging is that a partner can offer encouragement, especially in the early stages when controlling an orgasm might feel daunting. On that, if your partner is the opposite—criticizing or expressing disappointment—then, and not to sound overly firm about it, it might be time to work on your relationship. While edging can be enjoyable, it frequently requires a lot of time and practice to perfect.
Read: Sex Communication 101
Less Is More
Another technique is to resist the urge to use a favorite fantasy, masturbation technique, or even body position: replacing it, instead, with something not uncomfortable, but perhaps not as hot. The logic here is that by making things slightly different, your mind and body won’t fall prey to old, established rhythms of masturbation and orgasm. Here, too, gloves, condoms, and so forth can also help as they change the way you and your genitals feel.
Back to BDSM as well as back to partner play, a little domination and submission role-play can also help by providing a strict framework, but more than that, encouragement and support for the person doing the edging. A small word of warning, however, that if this is something you’re considering, please don’t try it out—until, that is, both you and your partner learn as much as you can about the realities of BDSM play, with emphasis on its potential physical and emotional risks.
For many people, edging has proven to be an effective and pleasurable way to get a much-needed handle on how fast or slow they orgasm. Meanwhile, others have discovered that by backing off, getting close again, and—if they want—repeating this over and over and over again, they can raise the power and duration of their orgasms as never before.
But there’s yet another reason to consider edging, one I’ve saved for the very last—as I believe it’s a real biggie.
Unless you’re one of the fortunate few for whom sex is an enjoyable activity free from the negative baggage of guilt, shame, or all those other toxic emotions that have for too long plagued humanity, then edging may be a path towards what everyone deserves: the ability to accept who you are, sexually.
With its focus on understanding your mind and body—by dedicating yourself to your pleasure—edging is pure self-empowerment. This, you are saying to yourself, is about knowing more about who I am as a sexual person.
And, should you decide to give edging a try, with this understanding could very well come the pleasure of not only orgasms but loving yourself.