The truth about masturbation & why it can be a normal part of any relationship

Is it normal to masturbate even if you’re in a relationship? Will masturbating make me go blind? These are just some of the solo sex-related questions people regularly ask.

The truth about masturbation & why it CAN be a normal part of any relationship

No matter what stories you were told about masturbation growing up, I can assure you that they aren’t true. Masturbation will not lead to you becoming infertile or blind. It is not only for those with a penis. And it certainly won’t mean anything about you as a person if you masturbate while in a relationship. Masturbation or ‘solo sex’ is actually a very healthy and normal part of our sexuality as human beings, and it’s a completely normal sexual activity that people engage in whether they are in a relationship or not.

Why masturbation or solo sex can be good for you

Masturbation is a big part of our sex lives and is generally the first sexual experience that most of us have – whether in our teens or early adulthood. We can learn through masturbation how our body responds to certain touches and pleasure, and what we like and don’t like. ‘Solo sex’ teaches us a great deal about our sexual style – perhaps hard and fast, or initially quick and gentle – and offers us an avenue to enjoy sexual pleasures with or without a partner.

It’s not true that only single people masturbate; couples do it too, either alone or together, and it can be a very sexy and enjoyable experience to see your partner touching themselves. The key in a relationship, like most things in life, is communication.

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Unfortunately, the way our ideas are constructed around this has a lot to do with the messages we received when growing up. These messages were often rather negative, and certainly lacked permission to explore pleasure, especially for women. What this results in is that many people struggle with the thought of or engaging with pleasure alone, and hold a lot of shame and discomfort around the act.

But pleasure isn’t something that just happens… we actually need to explore, be curios and figure out what it is that we like sexually. Pleasure is a learnt response! If we’re going to be able to communicate to a partner what we like and have the best sex we can possibly have, then we need to actually know what we like.

the truth about masturbation and why it can be a normal part of a healthy relationship: sex education notebook

Studies show us that masturbation rates actually decrease when people partner up. This makes sense, because our sexual needs and desires are probably being met by our partner, so we feel less of a need to engage in solo sex. However, research has also shown us that people experience more distress and think their partner is dissatisfied sexually by knowing their partner uses explicit sexual material, like porn, than they are that their partner masturbates.

Masturbation vs partnered sex

Solo sex and partnered sex are two different types of sex, and neither is better than the other… they are just different. There are hundreds of reasons why we have sex, and sometimes masturbation is the quickest and easiest way to meet your sexual need, especially if your partner is not around or isn’t in the mood. It’s also far more of a physical experience. Partnered sex is intimacy in all forms – physical, emotional, and even spiritual. The connection we hopefully get when we have sex with someone is something that can’t be taken for granted, or compared to masturbation.

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If you know for sure what you like when you touch yourself, it’s not only much easier to tell your partner what you want in bed, but it’s also easier getting the pleasure that you want from sex! Masturbation is a very normal and natural part of adult life and talking about it with your partner will open the door for more sexual pleasure and experiences. And if that doesn’t convince you, regular masturbation helps build stamina and leads to more powerful and prolonged orgasms…

Catriona is an accredited clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, sexuality researcher & speaker. She is an expert in the field of sexual behaviour, intimacy, relationships and mental well-being, with a particular interest in helping people create or reestablish sexual intimacy and empowering women to embrace their sexuality. She has delivered her expertise across media, business and private platforms and is a globally recognised voice in the field of sex, pleasure and relationships. She runs a global practice online, consulting with clients from around the world, but has a practice in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, United Kingdom.