6 Reasons Why Your Partner May Choose Masturbation Over Sex

And what you can do to help each other and the relationship

The Sex & Secrets Column
Feb 15 · 6 min read
A person sits in a pink bath filled with pink flowers. Their legs are crossed, and they hold a pink vibrator. #masturbation #bath #masturbate #vibrator
Photo by Womanizer WOW Tech on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been trying to work on myself, and here’s why: Almost every time my girlfriend masturbates, I feel bad. I feel jealous, insecure, anxious, frustrated, you name it.

And I hate I feel those ways.

I’m sex-positive, I love the idea of her masturbating, and I support her engaging with her body in ways that feel best. I never want her to do anything she’s uncomfortable with, and I know she enjoys having sex with me. But no matter what affirmations she gives me or I give myself, I can’t seem to shake the negative feelings.

If you also struggle with these feelings, wondering or worrying why your partner sometimes chooses masturbation, here are six potential reasons why and ways you can help each other and the relationship. Just remember, consent and respect come first!

1. They’re seeking a masturbation-specific orgasm.

For me and many others, orgasms from masturbation can feel different from orgasms from sex. They aren’t necessarily better, just different. And even orgasms under the masturbation umbrella can feel different depending on what medium you’re using and on what body part. For example, are you using a vibrator or your hand? Are you playing with your clit or going inside your vagina?

Your partner masturbating for this reason doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy sex with you or the orgasms you give them. They very well may masturbate just because they want to switch things up in the bedroom, just like you may do as a couple.

If their masturbation causes you to feel insecure or jealous, talk to them about it in a non-accusatory way. While not shaming them for masturbating, you can share how you want to have sex more or how you need them to remind you they enjoy having sex with you. You two can also consider masturbating together or using the same sex toy they used alone. However, if they don’t want to engage in these options, it’s crucial to respect their decision and bodily autonomy.

2. They worry you’ll reject them.

While people’s rejections should be respected and easily given, asking for sex and being rejected can feel embarrassing and awkward. If your partner feels like you’ve rejected them often lately or senses you may not be in the mood, they may turn to masturbation to get their needs met instead. They may choose to masturbate when they actually want to have sex, simply because it feels easier and more comfortable.

If and when you’d like to have sex, let them know. Show them it’s okay to ask and that you’re interested (when you truly are). This can encourage your partner and also continue the conversation without making your partner feel self-conscious.

3. They’re struggling with insecurities around their bodies or sexual activities.

Sex can be a very vulnerable situation and experience, even for people who have it casually and/or often. Many anxiety-inducing factors are at play, like body image, worrying about penis size or vaginal odors, wondering if your partner likes how you’ve groomed yourself or how loud you are, et cetera. Even attractive, confident people can feel this way; it’s an understandable struggle.

For people who deal with insecurities (like me), masturbating can feel easier and more comfortable. While these people may enjoy how sex feels, masturbating can be a less stressful way to enjoy their body without all the worries running through their head. Additionally, masturbating gives people time to learn their bodies, experiment with what makes them comfortable, and practice being in sexual situations with ease.

If you worry this is something your partner struggles with, you can try to affirm them more often, both in and out of the bedroom. You probably don’t want to do it in an obvious or overdone way, but generally, encouraging and complimenting our partners is a good practice.

In the bedroom, people have made both helpful and unhelpful comments to me, so educating yourself on how those words can make people feel (even when you have good intentions) is a good place to start. Additionally, I encourage you to practice open, empathetic, and direct communication with your partner.

4. They want to get it over with quickly.

When you and your partner have sex, it may take longer because you’re learning each other’s bodies, teasing each other, engaging in foreplay, and more. While taking your time can be enjoyable, having a quick, one-and-done orgasm can be what people want sometimes too.

If your partner is short on time or not in the mood for full-on sex, they may want to masturbate. Maybe because we know our own bodies best and aren’t able to engage in other parts of sex with ourselves, orgasms from masturbation sometimes take less time, especially for women.

If your partner wants to masturbate so they can orgasm quickly, you just have to respect their wish and their time limit. If this continues to happen and you aren’t able to have sex with them as often as you’d like, you two can talk about it in a productive, kind way. For example, instead of saying they aren’t allowed to masturbate, you can express your want to spend more intimate time with them. Hopefully, you two can compromise and make time for sex you both enjoy.

5. Masturbation feels safer or more comfortable to them.

For people who have had bad sexual experiences, masturbating can feel safer. Even when you’re dating someone who treats you well and always asks for consent, triggers can arise and make sex feel scary or less enjoyable. When you’re masturbating, you feel more control over your body, which can be comforting. Masturbating also helps sexual assault survivors reclaim their sexuality, re-learn how to enjoy sexual touch, and figure out their trigger spots alone before a partner touches them.

This is the situation in which you need to be the most thoughtful and respectful of your partner’s boundaries and barriers. While that’s always crucial, you’re more likely to hurt your partner by expressing discontent while they’re trying to heal.

I suggest being mindful, asking your partner if you can support them in any way, encouraging them to do what feels right, and remaining patient, reminding yourself of what they’ve gone through and honoring their need to feel safe. Further, remember that them masturbating for this reason doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.

Lastly, when they’re ready to have sex with you, you can take actions that help them feel emotionally safe. These include statements you can say, physical touches that are typically comfortable, and more that can help. Just remember to communicate with them thoroughly first!

6. You’re busy doing something else, and they don’t want to wait.

Sometimes we get turned on and feel a need to relieve that sensation as quickly as possible. If your partner has that experience while you’re busy or not in the mood, they may resort to masturbation — which is totally fine. I encourage you to appreciate the fact they’re acknowledging and respecting that now isn’t the best time for you, and that instead of hurting you, they’re “fixing the situation” themselves.

When you’re ready to have sex later, let them know. If there are situations when you can versus can’t take a break for sex, let them know. Additionally, keep in mind that they may be able to wait for you in the future. Them choosing or needing to masturbate now doesn’t mean you two will never have sex again.

Takeaways

People may masturbate for several understandable reasons. Most reasons also have nothing to do with you, or they at least don’t mean you did something wrong or aren’t attractive.

Most of all, I encourage you to respect your partner’s autonomy, desires, and boundaries. However, in some situations, having a calm, open, kind conversation can help you and your partner figure out how to meet both of your needs in a happy, satisfactory way.

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

The Sex & Secrets Column

Written by

Just a 20-something woman writing about her experiences with sexuality, sex, mental health, abuse, and anything else she keeps secret.

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

The Sex & Secrets Column

Written by

Just a 20-something woman writing about her experiences with sexuality, sex, mental health, abuse, and anything else she keeps secret.

Sexography

Conversations about sex from all around the world

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