Hello, world. My name’s Stephen LaConte, I’m a writer here at BuzzFeed, and sometimes I give our readers advice.
So I’ve invited you to message me on Instagram and Twitter (@StephenLC in both places) with your biggest problems — and I’m solving ’em right here on BuzzFeed, one DM at a time. Let’s get right to it.
Today, we’ve got this woman, who wants to know whether it’s okay to ask her boyfriend to stop masturbating. Here’s what she sent me via Instagram:
Alright, here’s the deal: There are a limited number of things that you are allowed to control when it comes to your partner’s sex life. For example, anything the two of you do together in bed must obviously happen with your consent. Likewise, if you’re monogamous, you are agreeing that neither person is allowed to sleep with someone else. But one thing we do not have a right to control, in any situation, is our partner’s personal sexual expression when they are alone.
In other words, yes, your boyfriend has a right to masturbate in private, and no, you should not try to stop it. He can disclose those jerk-off sessions to you if he feels comfortable — but he should also be allowed to keep them to himself if he wants.
Now, if you’re not having as much sex with your boyfriend as you’d like, that’s a totally valid concern to bring up with him, and I’d encourage you to communicate it openly and honestly. But I don’t think banning him from masturbating would actually improve your sex life — and even if it did make things better for you, it still wouldn’t be an acceptable thing to ask of your partner.
It’s important to remember that entering into a relationship with someone does not give you unrestricted access to every single facet of their sex life. You are the partner in their sex life, not the owner of it. You’re the go-to collaborator when a collaborator is wanted, but there can always be parts of their sexuality that don’t involve you at all, like masturbating, watching porn, reading erotica, or indulging in kinks they’d prefer to explore on their own. These activities are healthy and harmless, and when done alone, they do not violate the bounds of a monogamous relationship.
It’s also worth noting that masturbation is not some lesser substitute for sex with a partner. (I mean, masturbation can be that, but it is not inherently that.) Masturbation is a perfectly good, valid, and useful sex act all on its own! You write that instead of letting your boyfriend jerk off, you’d “rather he come to you for these needs.” But it’s important to remember that masturbation is often a totally different need than partnered sex. And many people in relationships want both in order to feel happy and fulfilled.
The one exception to all of this, I should mention, is if your partner’s masturbation or porn use is excessive to the point of concern. Like, if he’s sequestered in his room all day endlessly scrolling through PornHub, and it’s negatively impacting your sex life together, that may require an intervention. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here. You’ve walked in on him jerking off a handful of times in the course of two years. That doesn’t indicate to me that he has any sort of problem that needs to be addressed — although it does indicate that he should get better at locking doors.
That leads me to your final question: Is masturbation something that men do regularly? The answer, of course, is yes! It’s also something that women do regularly, and non-binary people do regularly. Single people do it, dating people do it, people who have been married for 50 years do it. You imply in your DM that none of your exes ever masturbated when they were with you, but I have to be honest here: I think it’s possible some of them did. And that’s okay!
So, here’s what I’m going to propose: Instead of viewing masturbation as some sort of threat to your relationship (it’s not!), I think you should focus on the many ways it can actually strengthen your bond and improve the sex life you share together. Masturbation is healthy, it builds sexual confidence, it helps people discover what they do and don’t want from their partners. It also means that whenever your boyfriend is having sex with you, it’s because he actually wants to have sex *with you* — not because he simply has “needs,” and you are his only option for fulfilling them.
I don’t mean to diminish your personal discomfort about any of this, by the way. I recognize that when something makes us feel anxious or uneasy, “getting over it” is so much easier said than done. But, as you yourself suggested at the end of your DM, I think this is one thing you should try, with time and a new perspective, to overcome. It’s the fairest thing for your partner, and in the big picture, I think it will be a healthier and more sustainable path for you.
TL;DR: In a nutshell, please let your boyfriend nut.
That’s all the advice I’m giving today, folks, but if you’ve got any words of wisdom for our DMer, share them in the comments! I’ll be reading…
Want more advice and updates on previous DMers? Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@StephenLC in both places). And if you want to submit a question to be featured in the column, DM me — just be sure to read the rules below first.
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