One of the most enduring myths about masturbation, and one of the ones that I most wish would die, is the idea that people in relationships don’t – or shouldn’t – masturbate.
Seriously, this is such an enormous crock of bullshit.
I’m here to tell you that masturbation is healthy, natural and good for you – whether you’re partnered or single. Let’s look at some really good reasons to engage in some self-love regardless of your relationship status.
Your only lifelong sexual relationship will be with yourself
Relationships come and go. Even if you’re with one person monogamously for your entire life, there will be times when that person can’t or doesn’t want to engage in sex. For most of us, we’ll go through periods of being in relationships and periods of being single throughout our lives. But whoever else is or isn’t in our lives (and beds,) our longest and most enduring sexual relationship will always be with ourselves.
Masturbation is how we build a positive sexual relationship with ourselves. It gives us the tools to satisfy ourselves sexually without the need for anyone else. It contributes to positive sexual self-esteem, increased pleasure, and better mood. Masturbation is awesome!
Masturbation can improve your partnered sex
There’s nothing sexier than a partner who knows exactly what they like and asks for it. And you know what masturbation does? Teaches you what you like!
Exploring your own body gives you the tools to tell – or show – your partner how you like to be touched. And this isn’t a one-and-done thing, either! Remember that our bodies change throughout our lifetimes for many reasons, and that can include our sexual desires changing. Masturbation helps to keep your knowledge of your own body sharp. It also reduces fear of change in your body, because you already know how to roll with it and adapt to meet your body where it’s at.
It can take the pressure off – for both of you
Relying on one other person to meet all of your sexual needs can be a LOT of pressure for both of you. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, exploring with other people is off the table – but exploring with yourself absolutely shouldn’t be.
If having sex with your partner is the only way to get your sexual needs met, that creates an environment that is more likely to lead to coercion or pressure – even if unintentionally. But if you have a rich sexual relationship with yourself, if you’re feeling the need to get off but your partner isn’t up for sex, you can masturbate and take care of business without any pressure or resentment.
Masturbating doesn’t mean your partner is “failing” or that your sex life is bad
Something I often hear is “why does my partner need to masturbate? They have me!” This is compounded by disparaging jokes about people who masturbate after sex, about sad lonely people who masturbate because they can’t get a partner, or about people jerking off to porn when their partner is in bed because their sex life has died.
In more than 15 years of being sexually active, I’ve realised that the amount I masturbate has almost nothing to do with the amount (or, frankly, the quality) of partnered sex I’m having. Some people even report that they masturbate more when they’re having tonnes of yummy partnered sex. Orgasms beget orgasms, after all!
Your partner masturbating probably has nothing to do with you or the quality of your sex life together! Because…
Masturbation can fulfill a different need to partnered sex
Even during times when I’m having tonnes of partnered sex, I still feel the urge to masturbate. This is because it fulfills a completely different set of needs. Partnered sex is about the connection, the dynamic, the interplay between me and my partner(s) as much as it is about the physical sensations. Masturbation can be about anything from exploring new sensations in a completely pressure-free and private way, to simply getting off as quickly as possible so I can go to sleep.
Partnered sex is about both (or all) of us. Masturbation is just about me. Call it “me time,” call it “self care,” but keeping things that are just for ourselves is so important.
The bottom line is that masturbation and partnered sex are different activities and they meet different needs. I love and desire both for completely different reasons.
Your body belongs to you
A relationship is a mutual and consensual exchange between two (or more) people. It does not imply ownership over the other person, their body or their sexuality. (Unless that’s your kink – but even then you know it’s a game really, don’t you?)
Whatever your relationship status, your body is yours and you don’t need anyone’s permission to enjoy or explore it. If your partner thinks masturbation is a form of cheating, that’s a red flag for controlling behaviour and you should consider leaving. The person who tries to control your sexual relationship with yourself is likely to exhibit abusive behaviours in other areas of life.
(Again: I’m not talking about kink dynamics here – I have an orgasm control kink, after all! But the point of a kink is that it’s for fun and you have the ability to opt out of playing the game if you want to.)
No-one owns your body but you. No-one else gets to control what you can and can’t do with it.
If you have a vulva and are new to masturbation, I really recommend Jenny Block’s book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex.
Masturbation Monday is a meme created and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week! If you enjoyed this piece, please consider buying me a coffee to show your appreciation.