Q: How do you bring up masturbation in a relationship? I want to make talking about it with my partner more normalized than it’s been in my previous relationships—they were very against the idea of talking about masturbation, and said they didn’t masturbate.
A: I like telling my partner what I do for self-pleasure when we have recently been sexually intimate or active. For example, if I’m laying in bed with someone after we had nice play or sex, sometimes I have asked what they like to do for their own pleasure when I’m not around. If that person is too shy or nervous to share, I’ll instead ask them if I can tell them what I like to do. All of my partners have always said yes, they very much want to watch or learn how I get myself off.
Some people have a very difficult (impossible) time of talking about anything sexual; this is often shaped by how their family talks about bodies, sexual health or consent in the household. Families who tend to be deeply religious often talk about sex less, based on what I hear from my friends and clients. And people who feel negatively about sex are much less likely to use birth control successfully, discuss their pleasure with a partner, or masturbate, according to a study published in The Journal of Sex Research.
(If you aren’t a student or researcher with typical access to these studies, many libraries offer free access to scholarly journals and articles if you sign up for a library card and account—ask your local library.)
As for those who claim they don’t masturbate, that is totally possible, but not likely. Most of us do masturbate, and that’s because it’s good for our bodies to produce dopamine and endorphins from pleasant touch, which happens even if a person doesn’t orgasm.
People who talk about their sex tend to have better intimacy, so how much more encouragement could you possibly want?
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