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Should You Be Open With Your Partner About Your Masturbation Habits?

There are 2 types of people in the world: those who masturbate and those who pretend that they don’t.

This finding, published in the prestigious journal of humorous gags, is not entirely true. But it’s not far-off either: It’s completely natural for people of all ages and genders to masturbate.

In fact, controversial research suggests that even foetuses in the womb masturbate occasionally! Nonetheless, masturbation is still taboo – we don’t talk about it as much as we could. For this reason, many people in relationships are not entirely honest about their masturbation habits. Is this a problem?

There is No Right or Wrong Way to Approach this Topic

We all differ in our past experiences, attitudes and value systems. Masturbation means different things to different people. For example, some people find that opening up about masturbation helps them to feel more confident and sexually explorative. Some couples prefer not to mention it, despite a mutual understanding that it does happen. Others hide their masturbation, living in shame and secrecy.

There really is no one-size-fits-all solution to the quandary of whether you should be talking about masturbation. Rather, as a couple, you should discuss whether your current communication style is working for both of you. If not, what might be the effect of speaking more openly about one another’s masturbation habits?

Why We Should Be More Open

By maintaining the silence and stigma around this natural act, we’re creating unnecessary shame and guilt. Furthermore, masturbation should be encouraged due to its physical and mental benefits. For example, it can boost brain chemicals that make you feel motivation, love, and happiness. It can also strengthen your immune system and protect you from prostate cancer.

Connecting with your own body in this way also gives you a chance to explore your sexual responses – what feels good and what doesn’t. This can help you to become more self-aware and develop a more fulfilling sex life. Talking about masturbation can also help men avoid developing sexual health issues.


Men who hide their masturbation often rush the process, trying to finish before their partners become suspicious. This trains your body and brain to climax quickly, which can lead to premature ejaculation when you’re with a partner. On the other hand, what if your partner knows and accepts that you masturbate? This will allow you to practice healthier masturbation habits and avoid developing sexual dysfunction.

Finally, open conversations on the topic of masturbation can help promote gender equality. We’re led to believe that masturbation is more common amongst men than women. In this way, some women are made to feel that female masturbation is “wrong” or “abnormal.

Rather, we need to speak openly about masturbation and frame it as natural and healthy for everyone. By speaking more openly about masturbation, women will be better equipped to let go of guilt and to feel good about their bodies. This sort of dialogue will help people who identify as women to empower themselves.

Why We Should Approach With Care

As a therapist, I’m all for open communication. Have you ever met a psychologist who wasn’t!? Nonetheless, when it comes to communicating about masturbation I advise couples to proceed with caution. What if your partner comes from a cultural or religious background in which masturbation is frowned upon? What if your partner is emotionally fragile and feels rejected by the fact that you’re experiencing sexual pleasure alone?

If you want to be more open about masturbation, it’s important to test the waters before diving in. Gently start a general discussion about masturbation and ask what your partner thinks about the matter. This will help you to understand their views on masturbation and whether they’ll be open to discussing it in the context of your own relationship.

Also, remember to tell your partner why you’re interested in having this discussion. This may be a case of overcoming shame, improving your sexual health, or finding ways to be more explorative in the bedroom with your partner. Keep in mind that this conversation needn’t be a one-off. Leaving the topic open will allow each of you to feel more comfortable bringing up new thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

At the end of the day, we all have different views and opinions about masturbation. Some feel ashamed and prefer not to discuss it, others use it as an opportunity to broaden their sexual horizons. There really are no rights or wrongs here.

For some couples, however, the secrecy can have a negative impact. Conversations about masturbation should always be broached with tact and sensitivity. Honest conversations help to break down the barriers of guilt and shame, which allow you to connect with yourself and your partner in a more authentic and fulfilling way.

Daniel Sher

Daniel Sher

Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist, practicing in Cape Town South Africa. He serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs. A component of his training and practice involves working in the context of sexual and sex-related issues. Practice aside, Daniel is... Read More

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