Party For One, Does Masturbation Ruin Sex With Your Partner?
You are flicking the bean and shucking the corn. Despite these food-related euphemisms, masturbation isn't precisely a dinner-table topic. Still, you may be wondering — Does masturbation ruin sex with your partner?
If you or your partner feel awkward about masturbating while in a relationship or wonder about what it might do, you may want to learn more about it so you can have an open conversation about it.
Masturbation Is Common
Masturbating — self-stimulation of sexual organs — is a widespread phenomenon. A 2015 survey found that 56% of male respondents and 41% of female respondents had masturbated in the last month. More than 80% of both men and women had masturbated in their lifetime. For many, masturbation can be a form of self-love. For others, it's a common form of bodily care, like washing your hair or stretching.
The Benefits of Masturbation While in a Relationship
Masturbation tends to be a neutral or positive force in a relationship. Here are some of the things it can do for you.
Improve Your Partnered Sex
For people who have trouble enjoying sex, some solo time can get them used to their bodies' sensations and help them learn what turns them on. The next time they have sex with a partner, they can give better directions, making sex a more comfortable and positive experience.
Gain the Health Benefits of Orgasms
Orgasms, whether they happen solo or with a partner, offer real health benefits, such as better sleep and reduced stress levels. In this sense, masturbation can be seen as part of a healthy routine.
Respect Your Partner's Bodily Autonomy
One way to look at masturbating while in a relationship or masturbating in marriage is as an acknowledgment that your partner is not solely responsible for your orgasms — and vice versa. You can both take matters into your own hands whenever the mood strikes.
Enjoy All the Sensations Your Body Can Offer
Partnered sex and masturbation often serve different emotional and physical purposes. They also tend to feel different. Both can be great in their ways. Liking how you can make yourself think doesn't reduce the pleasure your partner gives you. It just means you're having more orgasms.
Learn From the Source
Watching your partner masturbate while masturbating yourself can be pretty sexy. It can also help you see how your partner stimulates themselves, giving you great ideas for the next time you engage in partnered sex.
Boost Your Libido
Having orgasms, whether solo or with a partner, tends to make you want to have more orgasms. Masturbating can lead you to desire more partnered sex later.
Does Masturbating Ruin Sex?
While masturbation offers many benefits, it isn't without its complications. Here are a few things to watch out for.
Difficulty Replicating Sensations
The way that masturbation is performed may be hard to replicate during partnered sex. For example, most penises generally don't move like a vibrator does. And while a hand can grip a penis quite tightly, a vagina or anus may not be able to. Masturbating far more often than having partnered sex can be a real issue.
Sensitivity to Sexual Stimulation in Men
A 2019 study has shown a positive correlation between pornography consumption and masturbation in men. Unfortunately, watching porn frequently also leads to decreased sexual satisfaction overall.
Masturbating to porn may desensitize you to sexual stimuli, making it harder to get aroused by your partner. It may also set unrealistic expectations for what sex should be like.
If you or your partner find that frequent masturbation interferes with your daily life or relationship, it may be time to seek help from a sex therapist.
Talking About It
Even if you and your partner have a healthy attitude towards masturbation and know about its benefits, it can be hard to break away from the stigma that says it's somehow "cheating" or will ruin your relationship. You may need to have a conversation to help you let those feelings go.
Process Your Feelings
If you or your partner feels betrayed by masturbation, talk about it. What's the root cause of those feelings? Speaking with a therapist may help to unravel some of those emotions.
Respect Your Partner
Remember that your partner has bodily autonomy and can make their own choices at the end of the day. Masturbation is not a reflection on your sex life, and frequently it can lead to more mutually satisfying partnered sex.
Set Some Alone Time
If you want to avoid running the risk of catching your partner masturbating — which, let's face it, can be pretty awkward for everyone when you're not expecting it — you may want to make sure that you both have alone time away from each other.
Try Masturbating More Yourself
If you haven't masturbated frequently but are uncomfortable with the thought of your partner masturbating, it may be helpful to engage in the practice yourself. Feeling some of the health benefits may help you appreciate it more.
Seek a Sex Therapist If Necessary
Suppose you or your partner is dealing with decreased sensitivity from excessive masturbation due to pornography or masturbation addiction. In that case, it may be time to seek out a sex therapist or couples counselor.
In general, masturbation is a healthy way to relax and get in touch with your body, whether or not you are in a relationship. Sex toys are an excellent way to step up your masturbation game and intensify your sensation, whether by yourself or with a partner.
That said, masturbation can become a problem if it's excessive. Having an honest conversation with your partner about masturbation can help you both feel more comfortable in your skin.