Does My Partner Get a Say in My Masturbatory Habits?

Sex-positivity is a relatively new movement, so there are still some conflicts floating around inside it. One of them is the fundamental discord between two ideas widely accepted as truths by the sex-poz crowd: “Your body is your own and no one can tell you what to do with it,” and “You and your sexual partner(s) need to discuss and establish boundaries that you’re both comfortable with.”

Here’s the conflict: if I have the right to masturbate, does my partner have the right to stop me?

I’m not talking about my partner specifically, mind you. My boyfriend is awesome and doesn’t care that I masturbate, even though I do it frequently and sometimes with toys that are bigger than him. But, being someone who’s often called upon to give advice to other people, I encounter this issue indirectly from time to time.

My belief is that your solo sex life is entirely your business and that your partner shouldn’t have control over it, nor should anyone else.

There are a few exceptions, though – as there always are in an issue as complicated as this.

First off, your masturbation can’t get in the way of your partnered sex life. If it does, it’s obviously fair game for your partner to criticize it. For example, if you jerk off so hard that you have death grip syndrome and it’s led to erectile dysfunction, I think your partner can request that you tone down your technique, or maybe even take a break from wanking.

Likewise, if you consistently choose masturbation over sex, to the point that your partner feels neglected, that’s probably a no-no. As is any non-necessary element of your life that leads to your partner being neglected.

I also think your partner has the right to get upset about you masturbating if the two of you have previously agreed to define masturbation as cheating in your relationship. I believe strongly that each couple gets to establish the parameters of “cheating” for themselves, and that you should stick to whatever you’ve agreed to. (Of course, you shouldn’t agree to anything you don’t actually agree with, and you shouldn’t stay in a relationship where your partner’s definition of cheating is drastically different from yours.)

And obviously, there are some activities associated with masturbation that your partner may or may not have a problem with – like watching porn, reading erotica, or engaging in voyeurism or exhibitionism online. Again, it’s up to you and your partner to establish what is and isn’t okay, and you need to agree on those limits for them to work.

But aside from those exceptions, I see no reason why anyone’s partner should get to dictate how and when they jerk off. Your body, your choice. It’s as simple as that.

You should never invalidate your partner’s feelings, but if anyone ever tells you they’re uncomfortable with you having a private solo sex life, you might need to find a gentle way to tell them to mind their own damn business.

What do you think? Do you, or should you, have control over your partner’s masturbation? What would you do if your partner wanted you to stop masturbating, or to masturbate in a different way?