Party for One, Please — Does Masturbation Ruin Sex With Your Partner?

You are flicking the bean and shucking the corn. Despite these food-related euphemisms, masturbation isn't precisely a dinner-table topic. Still, you may be wondering — does masturbation ruin sex with your partner? Should you masturbate in a relationship at all? If you or your partner feel awkward about masturbating while in a relationship or wonder about what it might do, you may want to learn more about it so you can have an open conversation about it.

Masturbation Is Common

self masturbation

Masturbating — self-stimulation of sexual organs — is a widespread phenomenon. A 2015 survey found that 56% of male respondents and 41% of female respondents had masturbated in the last month. More than 80% of both men and women had masturbated in their lifetime. For many, masturbation can be a form of self-love. For others, it's a common form of bodily care, like washing your hair or stretching. 

Is It Normal to Masturbate While in a Relationship?

It's indeed less taboo to masturbate when you're single. However, once you enter a relationship, you may feel like you should only feel sexual satisfaction when you're with your partner. Masturbation in marriage can feel even more taboo. Regardless of how you think about it, though, masturbation will likely still play a role in your and your partner's lives while you're together. Here's why. 

Different Tastes

Everyone has a different sexual appetite. That's why there will be some mismatch between how frequently partners want to have sex in many relationships. Masturbation can be a way to release pent-up sexual desire without pushing a partner's boundaries or turning to other partners. It can also take the pressure off couples to have sex together more frequently than their schedules allow. 

It Still Happens in Happy Relationships

Does masturbation effect sex life? It can work for the better. Sexually satisfied people are happy people! The fact is that masturbation still happens in relationships where both partners are satisfied with the frequency of partnered sex. This shows that self-love doesn't risk replacing lovemaking with a partner.

Gender Differences 

2017 study indicated that men and women use masturbation in different ways. Men tended to use masturbation to make up for not having sex as often as they would like to. They still masturbated when sexually satisfied with their relationship — just not as frequently. 

For women, however, sex and masturbation were correlated — the more they had sex, the more they masturbated. This has multiple benefits. Aside from keeping them relaxed and happy, masturbation can improve vaginal lubrication for people with vaginas during partnered sex.  

The Benefits of Masturbation While in a Relationship 

masturbation in a relationship

Masturbation tends to be a neutral or positive force in a relationship. Here are some of the things it can do for you.

Improve Your Partnered Sex

For people who have trouble enjoying sex, some solo time can get them used to their bodies' sensations and help them learn what turns them on. The next time they have sex with a partner, they can give better directions, making sex a more comfortable and positive experience. 

Gain the Health Benefits of Orgasms

Orgasms, whether they happen solo or with a partner, offer real health benefits, such as better sleep and reduced stress levels. In this sense, masturbation can be seen as part of a healthy routine. 

Respect Your Partner's Bodily Autonomy

One way to look at masturbating while in a relationship or masturbating in marriage is as an acknowledgment that your partner is not solely responsible for your orgasms — and vice versa. You can both take matters into your own hands whenever the mood strikes.

Enjoy All the Sensations Your Body Can Offer

Partnered sex and masturbation often serve different emotional and physical purposes. They also tend to feel different. Both can be great in their ways. Liking how you can make yourself think doesn't reduce the pleasure your partner gives you. It just means you're having more orgasms.

Learn From the Source

Watching your partner masturbate while masturbating yourself can be pretty sexy. It can also help you see how your partner stimulates themselves, giving you great ideas for the next time you engage in partnered sex. 

Boost Your Libido

Having orgasms, whether solo or with a partner, tends to make you want to have more orgasms. Masturbating can lead you to desire more partnered sex later. 

Does Masturbating Ruin Sex? 

While masturbation offers many benefits, it isn't without its complications. Here are a few things to watch out for.

does masturbation ruins the sex

TAKE A LOOK

-- Benefits Related to Masturbation for both Women and Men?

-- A guide on How to Masturbate for Men

-- Types of Strokers for Men

-- How Can we Close the Orgasm Gap?

Difficulty Replicating Sensations

The way that masturbation is performed may be hard to replicate during partnered sex. For example, most penises generally don't move like a vibrator does. And while a hand can grip a penis quite tightly, a vagina or anus may not be able to. Masturbating far more often than having partnered sex can be a real issue.

Sensitivity to Sexual Stimuli in Men

A 2019 study has shown a positive correlation between pornography consumption and masturbation in men. Unfortunately, watching porn frequently also leads to decreased sexual satisfaction overall. Masturbating to porn may desensitize you to sexual stimuli, making it harder to get aroused by your partner. It may also set unrealistic expectations for what sex should be like. 

Masturbation Addiction

If you or your partner find that frequent masturbation interferes with your daily life or relationship, it may be time to seek help from a sex therapist.  

Talking About It

Even if you and your partner have a healthy attitude towards masturbation and know about its benefits, it can be hard to break away from the stigma that says it's somehow "cheating" or will ruin your relationship. You may need to have a conversation to help you let those feelings go.

Process Your Feelings

If you or your partner feels betrayed by masturbation, talk about it. What's the root cause of those feelings? Speaking with a therapist may help to unravel some of those emotions. 

Respect Your Partner

Remember that your partner has bodily autonomy and can make their own choices at the end of the day. Masturbation is not a reflection on your sex life, and frequently it can lead to more mutually satisfying partnered sex. 

Set Some Alone Time

If you want to avoid running the risk of catching your partner masturbating — which, let's face it, can be pretty awkward for everyone when you're not expecting it — you may want to make sure that you both have alone time away from each other.

Try Masturbating More Yourself

If you haven't masturbated frequently but are uncomfortable with the thought of your partner masturbating, it may be helpful to engage in the practice yourself. Feeling some of the health benefits may help you appreciate it more.

Seek a Sex Therapist If Necessary

Suppose you or your partner is dealing with decreased sensitivity from excessive masturbation due to pornography or masturbation addiction. In that case, it may be time to seek out a sex therapist or couples counselor.

Conclusion

In general, masturbation is a healthy way to relax and get in touch with your body, whether or not you are in a relationship. Sex toys are an excellent way to step up your masturbation game and intensify your sensation, whether by yourself or with a partner.

That said, masturbation can become a problem if it's excessive. Having an honest conversation with your partner about masturbation can help you both feel more comfortable in your skin. 

Sources:

Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men. (July 2017). PLOS ONE

‌ Masturbation in the United States. (May 2007). Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 

‌ Men Masturbate to Make Up the Difference—But Women Don't. (May 2017). Psychology Today. 

‌ Masturbation and Partnered Sex: Substitutes or Complements?. (October 2017). Archives of Sexual Behavior.

‌ Health Benefits of Solo Female Sexuality. (October 2014). Everyday Health.

‌ Healthy Sex: The Ultimate Guide. (April 2018). Everyday Health. 

‌ Masturbation and Your Marriage. (June 2021). Verywell Mind. 

‌ Pornography, preference for porn-like sex, masturbation, and men's sexual and relationship satisfaction. (March 2019). Personal Relationships. 

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