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Your Sex Questions Answered: Is it okay to masturbate next to your partner?

WORDS BY LAURA MIANO

FJ’s sex columnist is here to help.

Laura Miano is a sex and relationship writer and sex therapist in training based in Melbourne. Her mission is to help those with sexual concerns as well as support individuals who might like to enhance their sex lives beyond cultural norms. To learn more about her, follow @lauramianosexology or contact her here.

“Is it okay to masturbate next to your partner?” – Masturbation Lover

Hey Masturbation Lover,

You and I could make great friends. Masturbating is an empowering and insightful sexual practice. It provides an abundance of health benefits such as stress relief, improved sleep, heightened mood, relaxation and tension release, and it also boosts your self-esteem, sexual literacy and can even make you a better lover during partnered sex. I could keep going here, but let’s get stuck into your question!

Masturbating on your own is always okay. Masturbating in front of your lover is also okay, but not without ironing out a few specifications. By this, I mean you need to check in with them first. If you have a sexual relationship with someone, exploring any new sexual act should always be approached with a ‘consent-first’ mindset. So before you get your pants off, bring it up, have a conversation and see if they’re on board. You said you’re a masturbation lover, so if all you need is the green light from your partner then this is simply the best way to go about.

But I know that even the masturbation enthusiasts amongst us can still have clouds of self-doubt and shame. So, I’m going to tackle this question under the assumption that your partner is cool with it, but you’re questioning your own behaviour and are unsure whether masturbating next to them is morally acceptable – both within a relationship and from an individualistic point of view.

We can explore this concept by breaking-up the context in which it might occur – either with your partner’s awareness or without it. If it’s the latter, you might find yourself in a situation where your partner’s fallen asleep, you’re lying next to them, start to feel horny, and decide to rub one out. This is absolutely okay!

Like I said before, masturbating can help you sleep, so I don’t blame you for taking nature’s sleeping pill and ending your day in potentially the best way possible. Of course, be mindful that your partner is asleep and probably won’t be too impressed if they get pulled out of their slumber thinking they’re in the middle of a (masturbation-fuelled) earthquake. So as long as you keep it somewhat under control in there, you’ve got the green light from me.

Another situation where you might find yourself masturbating without your partner’s awareness takes a slightly kinkier form. While still just as valid as the first scenario, some people might have a fetish for masturbating while their partner is awake and nearby but they aren’t aware of what’s going on. This might be ‘the thrill of getting caught’ kind of thing, which, as I mentioned earlier, if you have your partners consent to do this then honestly go and enjoy yourself – explore your kink in all its glory.

If we switch over to masturbating with your partner’s awareness, this also might take a few different forms. I’d recommend getting a second round of consent from them before doing any of these though – a lot of factors can influence whether they’re feeling it at that particular time. If they’re keen and ready, one scenario might involve you masturbating in front of them while they sit and watch, which is a hell yes from me (and not to mention, super sexy!). In the kink and fetish world, this is called exhibitionism and is quite a common practise.

Building on from this, you might actually enjoy masturbating with your partner. And I don’t mean pleasuring them yourself. I mean pleasuring yourself while you watch them pleasure themselves. The term for this is mutual masturbation and it can be super beneficial for your sexual relationship. From expanding your sexual repertoire, observing what you both like sexually, and being kind of convenient, mutual masturbation is a great sexual activity to incorporate into your sex life. So once again, that is a green light from me.

Another couple of scenarios might involve you masturbating because your partner isn’t keen on sex or because you don’t feel like sex. If they aren’t keen, you might like to ask if they could offer you any kind of intimacy at all – kisses, cuddles, strokes – anything that will enhance your masturbating experience. On the other hand, if you simply just want some solo-play time and your partner doesn’t mind you doing it near them, then go for it. I’m envisioning your partner just hanging out next to you, doing their own thing, while you sit next to them and get yourself off, completely normalising and destigmatising the act of masturbation, which is simply gorg!

So, as you’ve probably gathered, any form of masturbation is fine by me. As long as what you’re doing is legal and consensual, explore yourself to your heart’s content. Do be prepared though – your partner might not be on board with all the scenarios I mentioned above. Within our sex-negative culture, people can find certain sexual acts quite hard to digest. I don’t want you to reflect this by feeling any shame, but you need to respect your partner’s boundaries when they set them.

If what your partner objects to is particularly important to you though, try to find a middle ground. Share and understand each other’s perspective, compromise, or book in for a sex therapy session. A great sexual relationship is one in which you can explore your desires, respect your boundaries, and continually grow.

See the other instalments in our Your Sex Questions Answered series here.

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