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Okay, So He Enjoys Masturbating

A man who masturbates frequently may not be slighting his partner sexually.

My boyfriend and I—he's 45, I'm 37— live in different cities and meet up during weekends.I have discovered that he masturbates a lot. When we're together, we have sex before we sleep. However, in the middle of the night or early morning, when his body relaxes and he has an erection, he masturbates under the sheets. Being a light sleeper, I find it distracting. But I also find it disturbing and feel like he is cheating on me. I am pretty sure that during the weekhe masturbates every night. I am beginning to feel that he enjoys masturbating more than having sex with me. How do I talk to him about this?

More important is when you talk to him about this—preferably after careful self-scrutiny. Most men (and many women) masturbate sometimes, and they have been doing so all of their sexual lives. It's usually a boy's first sexual act, one he is very loyal to. Yes, it's likely that your boyfriend masturbates regularly during the week, when you are not physically present. He may even have a preferred fantasy or two that helps him. The reason he wants to masturbate is... well, he's a man. You seem to have an unrealistic view of the role masturbation plays in the life of men.

The thing about masturbation is that it's incredibly efficient, while relationships are not. For some men, that's all the encouragement they need to enjoy masturbation even when a partner is readily available, and especially when it has become the more regular form of sex.

Ask not why your boyfriend masturbates when you are unavailable but why he is masturbating when you are right at his side. How receptive are you to his sexual appetites and overtures? Your boyfriend seems to operate on the idea that conjoint sex is something you engage in no more than once a day and then only before sleep. Did he get this highly constraining notion on his own or is it something you have communicated to him? Things you might want to consider: When you engage in bedtime sex, is the lovemaking passionate, something you both look forward to, or do you just tolerate it to facilitate sleep? Do your sexual encounters lead to pillow talk about problems? Certainly, expressing annoyance at middle-of-the-night or early-morning arousal delivers a powerful leave-me-out-of-this message. Not every woman would react as you do, no matter how sleepy. Many would extend a loving hand or welcome full-body engagement— if not always, at least sometimes.

No matter how accessible masturbation is, you still can play a role in making sure it isn't the most exciting form of sex he engages in.

Seeing masturbation as cheating is quite unreasonable and not compatible with male biology. Nevertheless, viewing his masturbation as rejection of you (when in fact you are rejecting his need) turns him into the bad guy and keeps you from examining the ways you might be contributing to the situation. Here is where self-scrutiny becomes important.

You may have a fine boyfriend, but the relationship lacks real intimacy. You and your boyfriend need an unabashed but comfortable, and hopefully even playful, conversation about sex. You need to discuss such things as when you like it and when he likes it, and how often it might be welcome. It's also possible that your relationship can benefit from more intensity during the week to keep you connected. Perhaps you can agree to talk on the phone just before bedtime and exchange intimacies. Taking steps to be emotionally close will make it easier to talk about anything, anytime.