Here’s the deal: Everybody masturbates. Every. Body. Even while there are some who swear up and down that they don’t, never have, and never will, have probably, at least once, double clicked their mouse. How could they not? It’s easy, it feels good, and it’s healthy. So, naturally, it doesn’t mean anyone should stop masturbating because they're in a relationship.
"Masturbation is good for your sex life whether you're single or coupled," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast, tells Bustle. "It’s the prime opportunity to learn about your own body without the pressure to perform or meet another person's needs. And once you know what you like in bed, you can train a partner (or two or three!) to be a part of the process."
Even if you prefer to not masturbate while in a relationship, for whatever reason, it’s important to understand that, for starters, autonomy is something you can’t take away from your partner and, secondly, their masturbation is doing wonders for your relationship ― even if you don’t realize it.
So if you find out your partner is masturbating, or even catch them in the act, slow down. Here are seven reasons why it doesn't have to be upsetting.
1. It Has So Many Health Benefits
Masturbation is really healthy. Masturbation has been linked to improved heart health, lower anxiety, reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, and in men can help prevent cancer ― the more a man ejaculates, the lower his risk of prostate cancer. Also, from a mental standpoint, it just makes people happier.
"Anxiety and depression can also be related to a spiritual disconnection between our mind, body, and soul," Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, PsyD, a licensed psychologist and founder of Rapport Relationships, tells Bustle. "Practicing self-love and honoring your body is one way to bring the connection back into alignment."
2. Sometimes It’s Not Even About Sex
Sometimes, I masturbate when I’m bored or can’t sleep. It’s not even about sex at that point, it’s just a matter of, well, filling up time, I guess. If my partner isn’t around, and I feel like getting off just because I can, I should be able to do that without my partner freaking out. We all have different things we do to pass the time, and for some of us it’s masturbation. Masturbation is also an amazing natural sleep aid.
3. It’s A Great Stress Reliever
Nothing kicks stress in the ass quite like having an orgasm. Whether that orgasm comes from sex or masturbation, it really helps in relaxing anyone who’s had a long day. There’s no argument there.
But sometimes when you’re really stressed out, you don’t want to have sex, because you know your mind will be someplace else and that’s not fair to your partner. In those cases, masturbation is a better choice.
"Regular orgasms cause the release of oxytocin and endorphins —hormones that boost general mood, making you feel more happy and satisfied," Jodie Slee, a relationship and psychosexual therapist at Sensate Therapy, tells Bustle.
I’m sure we can all agree that we’d rather have our partner masturbate than have sex with us and not be present in the moment.
4. It’s Really Good For Their Self-Awareness And Confidence
When we masturbate, we get closer to our bodies. We learn how our bodies work, what we like and don’t like, and actually gain a deeper appreciation for not just our body, but our mind.
"Masturbation is beneficial to improve sexual awareness, and a way to know what your sexual desires, wants, and needs are," sex therapist Dr. Janet Brito, PhD, PSY, LCSW, CS, tells Bustle. "It can increase your own comfort about your sexuality, and help you to get in touch with the needs of your erotic self, thus promoting radical self-acceptance and boosting self-esteem."
Masturbation creates confidence and self-awareness, in not just the bedroom, but in all aspects of our lives. A person who has a healthy relationship with themselves, has a healthy relationship with the people around them, too.
5. It’s Good For Your Relationship
So if your partner has a healthy relationship with themselves and the people around them, what does them mean for you? That they have a healthy relationship with you, too! This is most especially the case if you and your partner talk about your masturbation practices in a way that’s completely open, honest, and free of judgment. That’s the stuff that strengthens relationships and forms even tighter bonds.
6. It’s Good For Your Sex Life With Them
Masturbation makes you, your partner, and everyone who masturbates better at sex. By masturbating, we learn, we explore, and we keep our bodies healthy, which naturally leads to better sex with our partner.
"In order to ask for something, you also have to know what to ask for, and this is where masturbation comes in," Alexandra Fine, CEO of Dame Products, tells Bustle. "Masturbation is an amazing way to explore your own sexuality, learn about what you like, and allow yourself to then talk about those preferences with others. It's also just great on its own!"
You can't really have any idea, at least not completely, of what you want if you don't know what it is. When we masturbate, we figure out exactly that, so we can ask our partner for it during sex.
7. It’s Not Hurting Anyone (Or Your Relationship)
If you still think that, besides these very valid points, that your partner’s masturbation is somehow upsetting to you, then you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why?” Masturbation never hurt anyone, well, as long as they didn’t masturbate with some dangerous object. And if it can only add to your relationship's intimacy and your sex life together, you really shouldn’t be pouting. If anything, you should step up your own masturbation game ― and right now is as good a time as any. So open your goodie drawer and think about getting to it.
This post was originally published on September 22, 2015. It was updated on September 6, 2019.