Masturbation: Does your partner know you masturbate?

BlogHer Original Post

So, do you do it?  Pet the mouse, comfort the kitten, make with your muffin, play with the little man in the boat, dive for the pearl, pleasure yourself.

And if you’re in a relationship with someone else, possibly a fella, do you do it when he’s around, or just by your lone self?  

Is this a hey, this is hot come and watch, kind of thing, or is it a “Damn, I’m tired and need to put myself to sleep,” kind of thing?

Or is it a “I am so damn horny and boyfriend is a) snoring b) just came and will soon be snoring c) don’t seem able to give me what I like, anyway?

Or is it a sweeties are nice, but sometimes I want to make love to myself only I don’t want him/her to find out way? Huh?

For people for whom sexual preferences, values about monogamy, views on kink, and degrees of commitment can vary, there seems to be one thing that doesn’t change: If you’re in a committed relationship, being too interested in masturbation and admitting it is often a taboo.

And of course, for people in more “vanilla” aka traditional relationships, admitting you masturbate (and like it) may be bring up additional issues about looking at and being turned on by porn, or about whether fantasies involving others count as breaking vows. And then of course there are those (hot) , fantasies that you might have from time to time that run on tracks of sexual preference it’s not comfortable to admit.

In some ways, it seems like admitting you (like to) masturbate—especially if you have others available—is a final taboo. Common practice would be that we’re all cool with those “single” friends who rock the Rock chick, but we wonder why anyone would want to do that if she was part of a couple?

According to sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz in The Gender of Sexuality, 1993 data reports that 65 % of women have tried masturbating, with only 8% doing it weekly—but the idea that “nice girls don’t touch themselves” has clearly driven down these numbers.

As you know, the reasons women masturbate include the following:

  • Feels great
  • Helps you sleep
  • Pain relief (menstruation)
  • Sexual gift to oneself 
  • Improves sexual self knowledge/appetite
  • Sex at your own pace, your way
  • Fantasies outside your usual real life realm
  • Way to try out something new

For my friend Cecile, masturbation provided a fantasy outlet/experience the relationship didn’t. “I was bisexual until a few years ago, but then I met Jess and fell madly in love,” explains Cecile, a trim late 40’s educator living in a fairly conservative Midwestern city. “Jess and I have lived happily together for the past 9 years, it’s been great, only we started getting less sexual. And then, in what seemed like an all of a sudden moment, I started dreaming about men—specifically, I started dreaming about their big you know whats. And I was horny, and those ideas turned me on so much and. I just felt I couldn’t tell Jess—what would she think?”

Cecile hid this hot new addition to her fantasy life from Jess, trotting it out when she was alone, and sometimes—without much success—in her head when they were intimate together. Only then, one night, Jess walked into Cecile’s room, wanting to tell her something, and found Cecile under the covers, clearly going at it. “I was so turned on, but I was mortified,” says Cecile. “Not only was I touching myself instead of her, but I was thinking about GUYS. This was the trigger for us to start a long discussion.”

My friend Martina, who lives with her husband, got laid off, had a long-ill parent die, had a teen-aged child with problems in with a teacher in school, and her husband getting depressed and withdrawn, all in the same month. The stress was incredible and sex—masturbation, specifically—was relaxing.

 “Richard didn’t want to have sex most of the time, and I was miserable. So, there was nothing left but touching myself,” she explains. “3X a day later, I started asking myself if this was compulsive.”

Martina’s self-love mania passed after about a week, and Cecile got agreement she could date men outside of her relationship, but in both cases what stood out was the disconnect between the pleasure and the secrecy.  
“I was having a great time, but I just didn’t want Jess to know what I was doing at first,” Cecile says. “I didn’t want her to think it reflected on her.”

Martina had a similar thought. “I didn’t want Richard to know just how much I was carrying on by myself,” she says. “And I felt embarrassed, like I was a sex maniac or something—I mean, I KNOW he wouldn’t want to make love THAT often.”

A recent Dear Prudence Q&A in Slate addresses this issue from the guy side. Mr. “Stroke of Midnight”, who masturbated at least 2X a day unless he was sure he and his wife were going to have sex, was concerned because his wife saw his masturbation as a rejection of her, and as his being oversexed.

Dear Prudence’s response? “If morning and night is your minimum daily sexual requirement, then even the most ardent wife might want to whip out the Taser when she sees you approaching. Masturbation by married people is perfectly normal and not a problem, unless it becomes one. In your case, it's become one.”
Prudence goes on to advise honesty—and counseling. I’d agree, but I’d want to know what his wife’s sexual dynamic is as well; sounds like arguing and keeping score and feeling hurt has gotten in the way of the intimacy and fun on both sides.

So, when it comes to touching yourself, does your partner know much about your private self-love habits? That vibrator stashed in the night-table? If yes, how much?  If no, why not?

Is this information it is very hard for you to share, and if yes, how did you get past that problem?

And in your opinion, is masturbation one of the last privacy frontiers? Share your views in the comments, please.

Around the blogosphere:
Fabulously Forty: Del William, founder, Eve’s Garden, interviewed by Susan Crain Bakos:
  “When I masturbate, I say I am going to the goddess. Sometimes I worry about being too loud when I come. What must the neighbors think? I live in a Manhattan apartment! Recently, I was visiting upstate; and I heard a woman’s scream coming clear across the lake. I knew she was having an orgasm. The sound sailed proudly and joyously across the water.”

Spoilt: Faking Orgasms | How it feels for a girl
“Faking orgasms is a part of my feminine life. It happens sometimes, and while I grew up thinking it was only a female thing, probably due to the common portrayals of faking in television and film, I never stopped to consider men, and how men can fake. But I don't know how it feels when men fake orgasms, so I can only share how it feels when I do it.”

Queen Mediocretia of Suburbia: In Which I Observe Some Monkeys Being Spanked
“Men in the act of masturbating. Have you seen them? I mean, have you seen them masturbating? And if you have, do they continue, or do they stop? And if you are a woman, have you seen the act from start to finish? I'm thinking that's pretty rare.
I've seen a lot of sex acts, but masturbation is something most men don't let women see.”

And two bonus quotes:

  • If God had intended us not to masturbate S/He would have made our arms shorter.--George Carlin.
  • Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.--Woody Allen

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