Is it Okay to Masturbate When You're in a Relationship?
We talk about masturbation a lot here at the Traveling Tickle Trunk, in fact, it is at the very core of what we do! Masturbation can provide a lot of benefits: stress relief, better sleep, elevating our mood, self-exploration, pain alleviation, and straight up pleasure! Despite all the amazing aspects of masturbation, there are still a lot of myths, misinformation, and misconceptions surrounding it. Our previous article breaks down the myth that says you can be addicted to masturbating. Check it out here. One of the other biggest misunderstandings, is that there is no place for self-pleasure when you are in a relationship.
Masturbation should have a place in your life, if you want it to, regardless of your relationship status! It may just take some work unlearning wide-spread misinformation and having open, honest conversations with your partner(s) to feel comfortable making the space for self-pleasure. Here are some of the myths you might want to explore.
Myth #1: If you are in a relationship, you shouldn’t have the need or desire to masturbate.
The need or desire to self-pleasure does not just go away because you are in a relationship. Masturbation and sex with a partner can serve different purposes and should not be in competition with one another. Although societal messages often make us feel like self-pleasure is more base level or less important than sex with a partner, no sexual activity is above or below another in value or importance.
Masturbation can also be a helpful tool when you and your partner are experiencing differences in desire, which is bound to happen because desire fluctuates! It isn’t fair nor consensual to expect a partner experiencing lower desire to engage in sexual activity and it also isn’t fair to not give a partner experiencing higher desire the space to masturbate.
Myth #2: Masturbating while you are in a relationship is cheating.
It may be hard to figure out how you feel about your partner becoming turned on by something that is not you or getting off without you, but you or your partner masturbating is not the same as cheating. Every relationship is free to set boundaries and define cheating as they see fit, but expecting someone to not touch themselves just because they are dating you is unreasonable (unless consensually agreed upon in the fun orgasm control type way). We cannot expect to control our partners exploring their own bodies.
Your emotions about your partner masturbating are valid, but their self-pleasure habits do not mean that they are unfulfilled or are looking for someone different. Masturbation does not take away from the relationship or attraction you feel towards your partner. Pleasure can come from a variety of sources, and masturbation can be one of these sources. We should make space for our own pleasure and encourage our partners to have pleasurable experiences as well.
Myth #3: Couples should not masturbate so they can save their sexual energy for each other.
Masturbating does not deplete our sexual energy or diminish our attraction to our partners. Masturbation can help us learn our bodies and what we like, which we can bring back to sex with partners to make it even better!
It is unreasonable to expect a partner to be everything for you. Allowing yourself and your partner(s) to have the time to masturbate also creates space for exploration and fantasies which can be a powerful tool in our erotic lives. Fantasies can help us explore the boundaries of what we are into in a safe way and can perhaps inspire our partnered sex.
Each and every one of us has different values around sex formed by factors like our families, culture, and the media we consume. These values influence how we feel about masturbation and will likely differ from the personal values and beliefs of the other people in our lives. It is cool that we are all different! However, these differences in sexual values mixed with societal messages about masturbation can result in mixed expectations around self-pleasure when we are in relationships. A good way to manage these differences is by communicating with our partners!
A good way to start out is to ask your partner(s) how they feel about masturbation. What were they taught about it growing up? What are their expectations around masturbation in relationships? What boundaries do you have? Would you be upset if your partner masturbated while you were home? Do you prefer they do it when you are out?
This may be uncomfortable but being open and compassionate with your partner about masturbation and making sure you both have a safe space can be beneficial. You may also want to talk about your favorite porn, show your partner what you are into when you are alone, or try out mutual masturbation – it’s up to you!
There should be space for masturbation regardless of relationship status. Your partner cannot be everything for you and self-pleasure does not take away from your sexual relationship. The longest relationship you will ever have is with yourself, make it a great one! We hope you are able to celebrate masturbation month in style!
by Erica VanKuppeveld