“That’s not normal.” Or, “No, it’s not for me.” That’s what people used to say when speaking about masturbation, if they dared speak about it at all. Thank god those days are over! Masturbation is no longer the taboo it once was, and instead enjoys increasing acceptance in our society. Unless, that is, you are in a happy, sexually active partnership. Because surely in that case there’s no reason to masturbate, right? Well, according to some sexual consultants, this may in fact be wrong. Cornelia Kardel, from Hamburg-based family planning and sexual advisory association Pro Familia, believes that “masturbation is completely normal even when in a committed relationship” (Fit for Fun magazine).
Masturbation in a relationship: for pleasure and relaxation
Walking in on your partner during masturbation is not a sign of a relationship in crisis. And yet many of us immediately jump to the conclusion that our partner must be sexually frustrated or bored with us. After all, why else would you resort to pleasuring yourself? However, things are often not that bad; in fact, far from it. Masturbation and sex do not occupy the same space in a relationship, but rather two separate spaces that can each complement the other. Masturbation offers personal pleasure and relaxation, usually accompanied by a release of ‘happiness hormones’. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to focus on oneself and switch off for a little while. In contrast, sex is about pleasuring each other. That is to say, the focus shifts to the partner. Unsurprisingly, this can be quite exhausting following a long, stressful day at work.
People’s needs differ enormously. Some need a lot of sex, others very little. Sometimes, there’s just no time for it or the opportunity doesn’t present itself. For example, many women abstain from sexual intercourse during their menstrual cycle. The birth of a child can also have profound effects on the female sexual drive and women often require a few weeks of rest. Illness, stress and depression can also inhibit sexual drive and pleasure. Masturbation, then, is a great solution to what otherwise can be be a frustrating situation.
Masturbation in a relationship can actually improve sex
In a healthy relationship, masturbation is beneficial, because it allows men and women to get to know their bodies and reactions to touch better. “It helps some people to figure out how to best reach an orgasm,” explains Cornelia Kardel.
Indeed, some studies have shown that sexual satisfaction in relationships is closely correlated to previous sexual experiences. In other words, those who masturbate tend to increase their chances of satisfactory sexual intercourse and in most cases tend to sleep with their partners just as often. As long as masturbation doesn’t replace the intimacy with one’s partner, there should be no objection to it.
The most important thing is to speak openly and honestly about it and to clarify each other’s needs. So next time you walk in on your partner masturbating, you do not need to act alarmed. You might even offer to lend a hand.