How-to Guides, Sexual Intimacy

Masturbation in a Relationship

Masturbation in a relationship


As a generation that’s broken past multiple taboos and stereotypes, we somehow haven’t been able to let go of our conceptions about masturbation. As a largely monogamous society, perhaps it’s the idea of what “civilised” is has resulted in these old habits dying hard.  More often than not, we react to our significant other masturbating as a sign of betrayal and our own inadequacy as their sexual partner.

However, Dr. John Mayer, PhD, clinical psychology states that “from a physiological and psychological perspective, moderate masturbation is completely normal and should be viewed as a relational enhancement”. Then why is it that we tend to take it personally when we find out that our partner masturbates despite their sexual relations with us? Why is it that we often feel guilt when the thought of masturbation comes to our minds when we’re in a relationship? Years of taboo and secrecy around the act of pleasuring oneself have led us to internalise the ideal that masturbation is something that should only be done behind closed doors.

So what is the healthiest way to look at masturbation in a relationship? Masturbation is primarily an act of pleasure. It is not a substitute for you in a relationship and it certainly does not mean that you have not been able to satisfy your partner’s sexual needs. The desire to experience pleasure on one’s own accord is natural and studies have shown that masturbation has actually helped relationships. Masturbation is more than just sexual satisfaction and sexologist Emily Morse elaborated in one of her podcasts about how masturbating improves self-confidence, allows us to sleep better and reduces stress. Who wouldn’t love a partner with all these qualities? The key to a healthy relationship lies in understanding that while emotional interdependency is extremely important; both extremes for the same can prove to be toxic for the relationship. Emotional dependency is directly linked to our sexual needs. Components of cognition, evaluation, motivation and feeling are a part of one’s sexual desire. We feel a surge of emotions when we engage in sexual activities including masturbation. Knowing this, it becomes important to understand that we cannot be completely dependent on our partner to satisfy all our sexual needs. The pressure of being solely responsible for anyone’s orgasms is bound to create tension; and not the good kind.



Additionally, masturbating allows one to stay in touch with what it is they enjoy in bed. Not only are we the most aware of what makes us orgasm or what our sexual fantasies and desires are, masturbating enables us to relive and rediscover these whenever we want. Studies have shown that people who masturbate on the regular have a higher level of sexual satisfaction in relationships. Without a doubt, when we are aware of our body and what it needs, communicating the same to our partner allows both of us to get the most pleasure out of sex. What better way than to say you love someone than making them orgasm and them doing the exact same for you? Furthermore, masturbation is actually one of the best forms of foreplay to exist! Touching yourself can be more than just a solo activity and can actually be quite arousing for your partner to watch. Getting started on your own allows you to get the right amount of worked up for when your partner joins in. Apart from how it directly helps the sex, masturbating also enforces a positive body image within us. The term “feeling yourself” in itself is so empowering; of course I enjoy feeling myself! When we take our pleasure in our own hands, we genuinely do start to feel ourselves as well. “Wow I just did THAT for myself.” You go girl! Moreover, our partners may not be available both mentally and physically when it comes to our sexual needs. Instead of letting the frustration build up and the subsequent lashing out, masturbating also acts as an outlet when our partners are sexually unavailable. Masturbation can also be something you and your partner engage in together, when you both cannot be physically together. Phone sex and sexting have come out as sure shot boons of the technological era, allowing us to connect our sexual needs with one another even without being with each other physically.


While we have established that masturbation can be quite healthy in a relationship, insecurities are bound to creep in. Open communication and trust are essential; one needs to be able to talk about how comfortable they are when it comes to anything and everything- including masturbating when in a relationship. Reassurance that it is an act of self-love and pleasure, and has nothing to do with your feelings for your partner becomes extremely important.  There’s no one way to look at things, which is why you and your partner are the only ones who can decide what works for the two of you in a way that is best for both parties involved.