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My partner masturbates regularly.
He was a porn addict for many years and now doesn’t watch porn but replays it in his head (so he tells me), when he masturbates. I was not comfortable with him watching porn, especially after coming home and finding him jerking off to it after not being interested in sex with me earlier in the day.
It has been a huge issue in our relationship (now three-and-a-half years in). I felt he was half having a sex life with me and half with porn and sometimes he would save himself from me to have energy for porn. It was very upsetting as I am a highly sexual, sensual lover who likes it every day and is always up for some passion! …I still feel uncomfortable about him masturbating as we have such a good sex life; I am always up for it and I look after myself and am supposedly very attractive and sexy.
Why is masturbation needed? Is it the variety? The IDEA of having sex with others? Is this okay in a long-term relationship? Am I ridiculous to think that a man can have all his sexual desires fulfilled by one woman? Should I be happy to let him have his fantasies and be grateful he only does it in his head and doesn’t go out and sleep with other women?
I’m fine with him thinking other women are sexy but to bring himself to orgasm over it, almost feels like cheating to me. I don’t even mind if in our sex we talk about other women, as long as I’m there and it’s a shared thing. But when it’s behind closed doors when I go to work it feels hurtful…
I go from thinking I am justified in my feeling, to feeling like I am being ridiculous and telling myself , “All men do it.” “They can’t help it.” “He still loves you.” “You’re just so insecure…”
Masturbation is a touchy subject.
(Pun clearly intended.) We often think of self-pleasuring as something we do out of necessity when we don’t have a sexual partner. In reality, maintaining a healthy sex life with ourselves actually makes us better lovers to our partners. When we are at ease with our bodies, our sexuality, and therefore our desires, we can better tend to our partners—in part because we have a heightened sense of our own sexuality.
Why do we masturbate? In short, because it feels good. Of course, there are more complex reasons depending on the person. Masturbation could be a kind of meditation. A form of self-celebration. Or it could be an escape. For some—especially where pornography is concerned—it can result in an addiction to the ever-refreshing stream of possibilities and variation that stimulate the brain into the kind of passion and action it may not otherwise receive in one’s day-to-day life.
The key here is whether one’s masturbatory life takes over the relationship. In other words, can your partner pleasure himself on a regular basis and still have energy to nurture the intimacy between you?
There are certainly many men (and women) who masturbate on a regular basis as part of their typical sexual repertoire. They are fueled in a way by the beauty of human sexuality as discovered personally through self-pleasuring and as investigated further through deep connection with their partners. Making love to themselves is a solid part of their lives, but so is making love to their partners.
When we are in long-term relationships, masturbation can actually introduce welcome variety to the relationship. It can help us to keep our fantasy lives fluid and juicy so that we can return to the conjugal bed refueled and perhaps even inspired to try new things.
The question we need to ask ourselves and our partners is: Is masturbation nurturing the relationship or negating it?
Many years ago, I had a lover who was also a practicing Buddhist. He insisted that he could not make love to me as much as I would have liked because he was “preserving his chi.” I came to find out that in fact he was releasing his chi all over the living room every morning right after I left for work. I felt rejected, sad and helpless. Needless to say, the relationship eventually ended. I wished, like you, that I had a better understanding of what exactly was going on.
Over the years of talking with men and women about masturbation and long-term relationships, I’ve gathered a few suggestions that have helped deal with this tricky issue:
Talk. This is always the number one problem solver. Loving communication is essential, especially with a difficult subject like this. Sadly, masturbation is looked upon with a sense of unsavory secrecy that forces it to carry a stigma of shame. It’s hard to shake that, even if we ourselves enjoy the act! When discussing masturbation with your partner, keep this self-protective instinct in mind. Be open and accepting of his needs.
If you discover that he is, in fact, more comfortable with masturbation than the act of making love to you, there could be a deeper psychological reason for this. Speaking with a couples’ therapist or a relationship coach may be of immense assistance to you both.
Define your terms. By all means, share your own sexual needs with your partner. If nothing else, make sure he knows where you stand on what constitutes a healthy sex life and how he can best co-create it with you. Both men and women make the mistake of thinking our partner can read our minds. (Picking up the phone before it rings to find your lover on the other end of the line doesn’t count.) We must be verbal. We must be clear. If not, expectations get raised and hopes get dashed. Say what you need and stand by it.
If you can’t beat ’em… If he’s amenable, ask to see—or even describe—what he’s into sexually. What porn gets him hot? It’s a wonderful way to get closer to your partner’s passions and turn-ons. He may not feel comfortable at first, but if you approach the sharing without judgment, he may warm up to the idea. You can offer to share your own turn-ons as well.
If things get hot enough, mutual masturbation is a beautiful bonding experience. You can each learn so much about how to touch one another by watching it for yourselves.
In the end, only you can decide if you are being sufficiently satisfied by a partner who masturbates regularly. A truly loving relationship does not result in one partner feeling shut out in any way, whether it’s by an actual human being or a fantasy. The goal is to find a common ground where you and your partner can feel mutually satisfied and safe within each other’s love.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Editor: Travis May