Talking with your partner about solo sex could benefit your relationship.
Masturbating is a natural experience for many people, whether you’re single, married, or in a long-term relationship. It’s also private. So, it’s not uncommon to feel hesitant about sharing this habit with your spouse or partners.
Everyone’s different — but some reasons you might hesitate to tell your significant others that you masturbate include:
- fear of conflict
- fear of judgment
- sexual shame
- religious beliefs
- lack of sex-positive education
- embarrassment or guilt
- feeling uncomfortable talking about sex
- believing myths about masturbation being taboo or a relationship threat
- thinking masturbating is bad when you’re in a relationship
- worrying how your partner might feel or react
The conversation could also feel flat-out awkward or intimidating for some people.
“If you feel guilty or ashamed about masturbating, it’s understandable that bringing this topic up with your partner would feel challenging,” says certified somatic sex and relationship coach Anya Laeta.
But, in many instances, talking about masturbation with your spouse can improve your relationship.
So, should you tell your partner you masturbate? And if so, what will that conversation look like?
Letting your partners know that you masturbate is entirely up to you. But are there benefits? Maybe.
It’s possible that sharing could:
- encourage open and honest communication
- present a great opportunity to discuss sexual interests together
- promote self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance
- help them learn about what you like and want during sex
- help you feel supported and understood by your partner
- improve your solo and partnered sex life
- increase intimacy between you and your partner
- spice up your sex life by introducing mutual masturbation
“Sharing what turns you on with your partner can be a really hot, bonding experience,” says Ashera DeRosa, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Buffalo, New York. “Giving them the map to your erotic blueprint shows them that you trust them and gives them the opportunity to bring some of those elements into the bedroom with you, so long as you both want that.”
“If your partner believes they’re responsible for all your orgasms, that can add a lot of pressure to them,” she adds. “Knowing that you’re OK with getting the release you need in a healthy, consensual way leaves more room for fun sex.”
It’s OK to keep some things private. And it’s necessary to establish boundaries within your relationships. So, no, you don’t need to tell your spouse everything about your past or present sexual habits.
“Figuring out what you need from your partner in regard to your masturbation is important. The boundaries that you’ve set up in your relationship are also important to honor,” says DeRosa.
Consider establishing which details of your masturbation habits could be beneficial to share with your partner.
If you think it can add value to your relationship, increase intimacy, or feel like a relief to tell them, consider doing so. If not, try to reflect on the reasons why.
Ready to tell your partner that you masturbate? “The more casual you are about it, the better,” says Laeta.
She recommends trying the following conversation starters when you feel relaxed and have your partner’s undivided attention:
- “I know we’ve never talked about it, but I’m curious what you think about masturbation?”
- “I’m still not sure what your attitude is toward masturbation when in a relationship?”
- “I wonder if you self-pleasure?” (If so, ask “How?” If not, ask “Why not?”)
If you would rather discuss your own desires or habits instead of asking them about theirs, DeRosa offers the following prompts:
- “I’m turned on by the idea of [insert idea].”
- “I found that I really like to be touched [in this way].”
- “I’ve been exploring some new erotic [e.g. toys, sensations, videos, fantasies], and I really want to share it/them with you.”
- “I’ve been getting really turned on lately by the thought of [insert thought].”
“Some people might be more sensitive about this topic than others,” reminds Laeta. “Be prepared to show empathy and understanding if your partner gets triggered during this conversation.”
You might also want to reassure them that your masturbation habits aren’t a reflection of possible dissatisfaction with them or your relationship.
Instead, you can explain that masturbating is a way for you to feel good, pleasure yourself, and avoid relying on them to fulfill that desire or need.
Benefits of masturbating in a relationship
There are many potential pros of masturbating while married or in a long-term relationship. It can:
- remove pressure on your partner to meet all of your needs
- alleviate sexual frustration if you have a high sex drive and they don’t
- provide stress relief or sexual release
- help you communicate your turn ons and turn offs with your partner
Although masturbating while partnered can be healthy, there are some instances where your habits could be evidence of something else going on.
Here are a few signs that you may need support for your masturbation habits:
- you lie about your practice
- you hide your habits
- you think you might live with compulsive sexual behaviors
- you feel a sense of shame before, during, or after masturbation
- you’re uneasy about what turns you on
- you masturbate in culturally inappropriate places
- you can’t get turned on by your partner anymore or can only get turned on by masturbating
- your genitals are sore or irritated from frequently masturbating
- your sexual habits are negatively affecting your life or relationship
“If you’re finding it hard to control where and when you masturbate or are feeling alarmed about your fantasies or the kind of porn you are seeking out, it would be helpful to unpack this with a sex-positive therapist,” says DeRosa.
Speaking with a mental health professional or sex therapist can help you understand your masturbation habits, improve your relationship, or initiate a conversation about masturbating with your partner.
Whether you’re the one who masturbates or you’re wondering if your partner does, it’s important to remember self-pleasure can be a healthy habit when married, single, or in long-term relationships.
Talking about masturbation with your spouse can bring you closer together or alleviate the shame sometimes associated with engaging in solo sex when partnered.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable to have the conversation if you don’t regularly or openly talk about sex. But if you’ve been thinking something like, “Should I tell my wife I masturbate?” or “I wonder if my husband masturbates…” then it could be beneficial to talk about it with them.
There’s no way to know if your partner masturbates if you don’t ask.
After all, “an open, honest, sex-positive relationship is more fulfilling than one filled with secrets and shame,” says DeRosa.