I sat down with a heterosexual couple who were just beginning their work with me. Since the woman seemed visibly agitated, I turned to her first and asked her why they had made the appointment. “That’s simple. You’re a sexual addiction specialist,” she replied, jerking her thumb toward her partner, “and he is a sex addict!”
When I queried her further, she explained that she knew her diagnosis was correct because, she said, “I caught him masturbating!” He shook his head sadly and explained: “Yep. I had an especially hard day, so I found some porn and she walked in on me. ‘Oh, hi honey,’ I said. ‘I was just sitting here with my laptop jerking off.’ ”
The woman was “grossed out” because she’d never seen a man masturbate, let alone her boyfriend. And she was convinced that he shouldn’t have to “do himself” anymore because “now he has me!” He was ashamed, and she was upset because she assumed he wasn’t sexually satisfied with her. He must be sexually compulsive, she figured.
Nope, I explained later; sexual addiction causes problems in the sexual relationship between partners, which wasn’t the case with her sweetheart’s occasional solo sex play.
Since this initial session, the three of us have had some enlightening conversations that helped this young woman relax about what I prefer to call “self-pleasuring.” (I think “jerking off” is, well, jerky, and find the words “pleasuring oneself” more friendly and expansive than “doing oneself.”) Plenty of us, I told her, can find it erotic to watch our partners please themselves.
Orgasms from masturbation can be more intense than other kinds; we learn exactly what kind of touch can send us “over the moon.” One fellow told me that he’d always figured (inaccurately, as it turned out) he would stop masturbating when he got into the right relationship. Many women assume that they’ll be parting with their beloved vibrators once they’re happily hitched.
My colleague Paul Joannides, who wrote The Guide to Getting It On, conducted a survey in 2005 asking hundreds of his readers two questions: (1) Is masturbation an important part of your life? And (2) if you have a partner, does she or he know? The vast majority of survey takers who are in sexually satisfying relationships answered “yes” and “yes,” Joannides said.
While there are plenty of times that self-pleasuring is something you prefer to do by yourself, there are other times that sharing it with a partner can be both satisfying and exciting. If your partner can see exactly how you please yourself, it usually helps him or her understand more about how he/she can best please you.
It also can increase the level of intimacy in your relationship if you can ask that she or he hold you while you get yourself off. We often have the unrealistic expectation that our partners should satisfy all of our sexual urges at all times. When you’re in the mood and your partner isn’t, she or he can hold you while you please yourself. In reverse, you can caress your partner or whisper stimulating thoughts while he or she masturbates. The possibilities are endless.
Please remember also that for many women and a few men, self-pleasuring is the only way they can have an orgasm. If you’re one of these people, try asking your partner to hold you while you give yourself an orgasm. Many lovers will find this to be a turn-on, and it will help to make self-pleasuring safe to talk about if you haven’t talked about it already.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Jill Denton, LMFT, CSAT, CSE, CCS, Sexuality / Sex Therapy Topic Expert Contributor
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