Solo Masturbation is Normal Even for Married People
By Dr E on June 02, 2014
Many people feel bad about masturbating. Bad they are doing it, bad they caught their spouse doing it, bad that they aren’t having good enough sex that they or their spouse don’t stop doing it. But in reality MANY people masturbate, and most have done so in the last 90 days.
Percentages of People Masturbating in America:
Percent of Americans engaging in solo masturbation in the last 90 days by gender and relationship status (single or married)
Solo Masturbation is Commonplace, Even Among Married People.
While we may each know this personally because we have masturbated recently, we might not realize that so has just about everyone else! Of course, the word masturbation is an awkward one. The French use the word soulager, “to relieve one’s self,” the Spanish onanismo, a sensual sounding word to English speakers. There is also my personal favorite “swanking,” a Medieval term for fisherman relieving themselves underwater (seriously!). Whatever term we use, masturbation is part of many people’s sexual baseline. We know that:
- Close to half of women and three quarters of men have masturbated by themselves in the past 90 days.
- Being married doesn’t decrease masturbation rates all that much, especially for women.
- Masturbation is the most common sexual activity for men, with over 30% through age 40 doing it more than twice a week. In contrast, most women masturbate several times a month.
- Although a decline in masturbation activities occurs with age, even at 70, around 20% of women and 40% of men remain active.
Masturbation in Sex Lives of Singles
Masturbation remains an important part of single people’s sex lives, with four times more single people having masturbated in the past 90 days than single people who have had intercourse in that same time frame. One way to measure if we have a healthy adult sexual baseline is to reflect, do I feel ashamed anymore that I masturbate? Obviously we will feel shame if we are “caught”—someone sees us doing it. This is normal because the act is so private. But if, internally (in private) we feel comfortable with masturbation, we can feel greater comfort with who we are as women and men. Hopefully, knowing that most other people masturbate can help us sense the normalcy of it.
Sensual Experience of Masturbation
As you feel comfortable, considering buying yourself toys, some Pre-Seed*. Watch movies. Make a relaxing, candle-lit space for yourself. Pamper yourself. Don’t rush. Enjoy the whole sensual experience to its fullest.
On a cautionary note, if you are in a relationship or think you want to enjoy one very soon, be careful about watching porn every time you masturbate—different parts of our brains are used when viewing electronics than when just experiencing tactile sensations. Getting in the habit of always using porn to get off may make it more difficult for men especially to respond to live lovers when circumstances change later in life.
Discussing Masturbation in Relationships
If you are in a coupled relationship, you can measure your sexual maturity with one another by whether you can discuss masturbation as a couple. The ability to do this can be a “sexual baseline” in your relationship.
And for women, this is important: Don’t take it personally if you find him doing it alone. An occasional whank in the shower or when no one else is home is perfectly fine. And sometimes masturbation is necessary for everyone’s sanity, such as after the birth of a child or if a partner is ill. However, if things are not going well sexually for your partnership, you may need to say to your partner — “Hmmm…I am having to turn to masturbation more than usual” and together you can calmly discuss why this is happening. Because some masturbation in marriage can be due to poor quality sex for the woman (she isn’t reaching orgasm with him) and not enough sex for the man (he isn’t getting enough), conversations can be loaded. Knowing this, we often push them aside — we want to avoid sexual conflict. We sense that if we can pretend our sexual baseline is okay, we’ll be fine. Sometimes we will. All marriages go through phases of more and less sexual activity. To see where your sex life fits in all this, consider whether you are using masturbation as a replacement for sex with your partner because it is “easier’ and “less hassle.” If you are, you may need “the talk.” Put thought and intentionality into preparing a “sacred” setting prior to the discussion. You may need to do something for your partner that you know makes your partner feel valued and loved—a candlelight dinner or a ball game. As you prepare to connect in honesty with your partner, remember that if you are feeling something about the loss of a healthy sexual baseline, your partner will likely be feeling something, too. In fact, in a recent study both men and women accurately perceived their partners level of sexual satisfaction, at a much higher level than previously anticipated by sex study scientists. As your time together evolves, explain what you would like more of in your relationship. “I need sex more often.” “I need to spend time teaching you what feels good to me during oral sex or foreplay.” These are never easy conversations to have. We tend to get defensive. There is no magic bullet for helping a partner through the defensiveness except this one: Always start by talking about the positives of your partner, the things you love about him/her, and the joys you experience with them, before moving on to what is not working for you.
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