Sex and Pancakes

Dear Melissa,

Despite being in a healthy relationship, I still masturbate almost every day. Is this normal?

—Sticky Fingers

Dear Sticky Fingers,

For some reason something as simple as self-love continues to be such a taboo in our society and the fact that you wrote in to ask this question tells me that either you don’t think it’s normal, or someone told you it isn’t.

Not to be repetitive, but what is NORMAL and HEALTHY? These two words carry a lot of weight when it comes to sexuality. If you read this column regularly this might sound familiar, but it never hurts to repeat important points:

Figuring out what’s “normal” or “healthy” is difficult since they are subjective and really dependent on your definitions. For all you know, maybe I masturbate every day, or never. So who am I to tell you what’s normal?
I’ve never understood the assumption that being in a relationship means you shouldn’t masturbate. Since when is masturbation a replacement for sex?

Masturbation is a great way to explore fantasies that you might not be ready to share with your partner and it can help you learn a lot about your own sexuality.

Through touching yourself and exploring different fantasies with no boundaries, you can figure out what gets you off and eventually show your partner. Masturbating with your partner is also fun because it can help you get more comfortable with masturbation and eliminate any shame that might be associated it with.

What I can assure you of is that there’s nothing wrong with masturbating, regardless of the frequency. The only time I would be concerned is if masturbating is interfering with your life as a symptom of a sexual addiction.

Sexual addictions are similar to other addictions in that they can take over your life, cause depression and isolate you from the things that matter most to you (family, friends or favorite activities). Addiction isn’t when you really like masturbating, it’s when you NEED to masturbate and it becomes part of your routine.

But there’s a big difference between addiction and having a high sex drive. I highly doubt you’re a sex addict, but if you’re interested or want reassurance you can check out sexualrecover.com, where they detail compulsive masturbation.

Aside from orgasm, masturbation has been proven to have many mental and physical benefits. To name only a few, it can relieve stress, alleviate pain, lower your blood pressure and help with insomnia.

I don’t know whether or not your partner knows that you masturbate and that’s the reason you’re asking this, or if the insecurity is your own. Regardless, everyone is different with different needs and behaviours.

If your partner or anyone else is telling you that it’s weird to masturbate a lot, all that really matters is whether or not YOU think it’s weird or too much. If you don’t feel like it’s interfering with other parts of your life, then I say there’s no problem here.

—Melissa Fuller

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 15, published November 23, 2010.

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