Masturbation is usually thought of as a solitary activity, it is often referenced as a symbol of being alone. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the topic of masturbation in relationships is one that doesn’t come up too often.
But masturbation doesn’t stop when a relationship begins, and by hiding our masturbation in relationships from our partners we’re potentially missing out on an opportunity for sexual communication, and a chance to improve our sex lives.
Even in a relationship, solo sexual activities are safe and can lead to more shared sexual activities. In reality, a sexless relationship reduced masturbation, according to Das’ 2007 report, and those who masturbated the most were typically in a partnered sexual relationship.
Do most people in relationships still masturbate?
While there isn’t a lot of research, there have been several studies, dating back to the 1970s, that have asked people in relationships about their masturbation practices. This research has shown that people in relationships don’t masturbate significantly less than people who aren’t in relationships.
Yet it is a common masturbation myth that masturbation is just a substitute for partner sex, and that once you have a partner you don’t “need” to masturbate.
Whether we’re honest with our partners about masturbation, in research we are fessing up to the fact that many of us continue to make masturbation part of our sex lives, even when we’re in relationships.
Some people believe that if their partner masturbates, it means they don’t want (or aren’t satisfied by) partnered sex with them, although this is seldom the case.
Why do people hide their masturbation in relationships?
Sadly, the research also suggests that the majority of people don’t talk with their partners about masturbation. In one small study of married couples, less than 30% of the couples where both partners masturbated, knew that their partners regularly masturbated.
But why would you hide something from the person you are supposed to be most intimate with? There are lots of reasons people might hid their masturbation from a partner:
- Thinking that masturbation is a sign of sexual dissatisfaction with your partner and therefore an insult
- Believing that you only have so much sexual energy and if you use it up with masturbation you’ll have less left for your partner
- General shame and guilt about masturbation
- Wanting to keep some part of your sex life just for yourself
Reasons to talk with your partner about masturbation in your relationship
While there aren’t any right and wrong answers to the question should you talk with your partner about masturbation, there are some good reasons to think about doing it:
- Masturbation is a great way to deal with differing sex drives: if it’s out in the open you can both use it not as a substitute but as an addition to your partner sex
- Masturbation is a great tool for learning: you can learn a lot about your partner from their masturbation techniques and habits
- Masturbation is another side of you: sharing talk about masturbation and/or masturbating in your partner’s presence can be a powerful way of sharing a new level of intimacy
- Masturbation improves sex skills: masturbating will improve partnered sex and increase the number of times one enjoys sex
‘It’s so much easier to have enjoyable, scintillating sexual encounters with a partner if you find out how to enjoy yourself, by yourself.’
- Masturbation is beneficial to one’s mental health: a growing number of people are starting to see masturbation as a significant part of self-care. The practice improved their health by helping them unwind, improve their relation to their own bodies, improve their self-image and aiding in peaceful sleep
- Masturbation boosts your self-esteem: the more physical stimuli you get, the more your body learns to crave and expect it
- Masturbation is a pain reliever: self-pleasuring causes the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin, which provide a sense of relaxation and pain relief
Should I talk to my partner about masturbating in our relationship?
Ultimately this has to be your decision and you need to do what feels right, not simply what you think is expected of you. On the one hand masturbation is universally derided and considered not real sex. On the other it’s the longest sexual relationship any of us will have, and we should respect and honor that.
Keep in mind that masturbation may mean different things to you and your partner. While you might think it’s a great part of your overall sex life, your partner might feel threatened by it. This isn’t a reason not to talk about it, but it’s something to keep in mind before you start a conversation about masturbation in your relationship.
If you and your partner agree to masturbate together, you may find that this is a great form of foreplay. For most women, this is a crucial aspect of reaching orgasm.
Watching your partner masturbate while you do the same can give you the confidence you need in the bedroom. You will find that when you masturbate together, the excitement is even greater.
Sex toys can be valuable tools to heat things up even more, even if you are in a long-distance relationship. For example, you can buy a rabbit vibrator or a g-spot massager approximately the size of your partner’s penis, and he can get an automatic masturbator. All you have to do is tell each other what you are doing with your sex toys or show them your session using an online app.
- Clark, C.A. and Wiederman, M.W. “Gender and Reactions to a Hypothetical Relationship Partner’s Masturbation” The Journal of Sex Research. Volume 37, No. 2 (2000): 133-141.
- Cornog, M. The Big Book of Masturbation San Francisco: Down There Press, 2003.
- Hessellund, H. “Masturbation and Sexual Fantasies in Married Couples” Archives of Sexual Behavior. Volume 5, No. 2 (1976): 133-147