Most people would sooner admit that they once cheated on a exam or shoplifted than confess to their partner that they still masturbate. Too bad, since allowing your partner to watch you satisfy yourself is considered the ultimate in intimacy, according to many sex experts.
When Annette walked in on her husband of five years, Don, to find him masturbating in their bed one weekend, she ran out of the room feeling a mix of embarrassment, resentment, and jealousy. “I’m obviously not satisfying him,” she said, “otherwise he wouldn’t be doing that. Maybe he’s having an affair.”
A sexual secret
Masturbation has always gotten a bad rap. At various times it was considered the work of the devil, the cause of everything from epilepsy to insanity, and a disorder in need of “treatments” that included straightjackets and leeches to relieve the “congestion” that caused excessive sexual desire.
In the 20th century, masturbation is not exactly the “disease” it once. However, “Most people don’t like to reveal they masturbate because they believe it’s an admission that you’re immature, that your partner is inadequate or that you’re oversexed,” says Dr. Lonnie Barbach, an author and sex therapist on the faculty of the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.
According to Barbach, there’s an unwritten rule that “you only touch me and I only touch you.” The taboo, says Barbach, “is for me to touch me and you to touch you.” Ironically, when women have difficulty reaching orgasm in a relationship or men have erection problems, therapists often prescribe masturbation. Says Dr. Patti Britton, a clinical sexologist in San Francisco, “When sex isn’t working for two people, one of the ways for getting back on track is to get in touch with one’s own sensuality through masturbation.”
Intercourse isn’t everything
The myth that prevails within couples is that once you and I become “we,” that means they must abandon self-loving altogether. “Nothing could be further from the truth,”says Britton. The fact is that if you masturbated before you were a couple, you most likely will continue to do so after. It has nothing to do with how frequently you have partner sex or how satisfying it is.
Therapists agree that being part of a couple doesn’t mean all your pleasure must come from traditional partner sex. Intercourse doesn’t provide the ultimate orgasm, nor is intercourse necessarily better than masturbation. The two are just different. Different, but equally as important because, according to Britton, “Masturbation is the foundation of partner sex.” By sharing masturbation with your partner, not only do you explore your own sexuality but that of your partner as well. In doing so, you can boost the intimacy of your relationship to boot.
Show and tell
Masturbating is a way to take an active role in your own pleasure instead of waiting for your partner to satisfy you. “You are responsible for your own orgasm,” says Britton. If you know what works for you, you’re more likely to have an orgasm whenever you want. Since you know best what moves are pleasurable, letting your partner watch you stimulate yourself can communicate the kind of touch and rhythm that brings you to climax. Why guess what works when you can watch and find out firsthand?
An intimate act
Although sexual relations seem to revolve around intercourse, “Many people find masturbating in front of your partner to be more intimate than intercourse,” says Britton. It just isn’t a common practice (unlike mutual masturbation where you stroke your partner as he or she pleasures you). “Masturbating in front of a loved one makes you more vulnerable than during intercourse where you don’t see the other person’s response as much as feel it,” says Britton. A man or woman may not want their partner to see their facial or body expressions as they climax. That’s why trust is so important during shared masturbation.
Think of masturbation as an exciting complement, not a replacement, to intercourse. Many men and women are turned on by watching their partner take an active role in their own sexual satisfaction. “Couples who have masturbated together have said that it can be an incredible turn on, because they are doing something that’s forbidden. That makes for intense sexuality,” says Barbach.
Explain to your partner that masturbation is just another way you express your sexuality and that you’d like them to watch. If the sex has been good, maybe this can make it even better.
“To get your partner into shared masturbation, you could use it as part of erotic roleplay and turn it into a fantasy experience,” suggests Britton. Instead of seeing masturbation as “dirty” while intercourse is “romantic”, set the atmosphere for a romantic partner masturbation session. Play classical music, use soft light, candles, or watch an erotic video. Read erotic stories aloud to each other. “Remember that you don’t have to have a whole masturbatory experience to orgasm,” says Barbach.
Use warm oil or other lubricants to simultaneously masturbate while watching each other get aroused. Or stroke yourself with your eyes closed, listen to your partner’s accelerated breathing and try to climax together.
Pick a position where your partner can comfortably hold you while you pleasure yourself. Then stimulate yourself while your partner kisses you and caresses you elsewhere. Guide your partner’s hand over yours as you touch yourself. If your partner is masturbating, pay attention to the technique he or she uses.
Masturbation plays an important role both for self and couple pleasure. After all, you are the best judge of what feels good. “If you needed more salt on your food, you wouldn’t tell your partner to start sprinkling the shaker; you would just take the salt shaker and do it yourself, ” says Barbach. The same goes for your sexual pleasure. Should you walk in on your partner masturbating, Barbach’s advice: “Join them.”