Masturbation

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Masturbating friends

Dear Masturbating friends,

It’s terrific that you have a friend with whom you may be yourself and explore your personal needs. Your question’s a great example of individuals being comfortable with their own sexuality. So, yes, simultaneous self-stimulation, also known as mutual masturbation, is "normal," natural, healthy, and safe whatever your sexual orientation, gender, or age.

It’s very common for someone in her or his late teens and early twenties to explore and define her or his sexual identity. This may include experimenting, either by yourself or with someone else, to discover what feels good and what doesn’t. As long as your sofa squirting doesn't surf from an occasional sideline sport to a full-time hobby that preempts work, school, exercise, dating, or any other activities from which you might benefit, playing with your remotes will likely bring you continued high ratings.

It may often seem like some moral, social, or ethical rules prohibit or shun masturbation (including the idea of touching yourself in the presence of others), but it isn’t considered abnormal, harmful or illegal as long as it’s consensual and done in a private space (i.e., someone’s home, and not a shopping mall, school, or any other public place). If those rules are followed, you may rest assured that it’s still okay to play with your friends, even if you’re not a kid anymore!

Alice

February 4, 2000

20339

Alice,

I'd like to respond to MASTURBATING FRIENDS. I too routinely masturbated in the company of friends from a young age. I thought it was normal. I stopped...

Alice,

I'd like to respond to MASTURBATING FRIENDS. I too routinely masturbated in the company of friends from a young age. I thought it was normal. I stopped when I went to college and began to wonder if it was normal and doubted myself. I masturbate a lot and so it was no wonder that in my first year my roommate caught me. Rather than being shocked, he apologized and asked that I go on as if he wasn't there. After seeing me enjoy myself, he got hard and asked if I wouldn't mind if he too masturbated. We now masturbate openly and sometimes mutually yet we are still straight.

Optimizing solo-sex

Dear Minute Waltz Boy,

You are not a Minute Boy — you are a Five Minute Man. What's wrong with that? Rather than quantifying your solo-sex as a set number of seconds, try to think about how great it makes you feel. This way, instead of worrying about a five minute countdown, you can enjoy every second of tantilizing sensation. What pleasure you'll get!

Second, it seems that those five minutes of heaven are pre-filled with anticipation and excitement. How could you expect to last any longer than that, given these parameters? Perhaps you'd like to stay in the ring for a couple of rounds. You can designate the first time to just getting your rocks off, in the best and quickest five minutes possible. Then, you can go for it again! Time number two is the time to change hands, try it with lube, change your fantasy, change your stroke, and/or change your touch points, not touching the good spots as often or as hard. Or, you can tell yourself to try to come as fast as you can and see what happens. The main point is that the more times you do it "in one sitting," the longer it usually takes to orgasm the second and third times. This goes for partner sex, too.

Last, but not least, you can try the shower, where there is more privacy. Try using soap as a lube to go to town as much as you want... minus any evidence.

Alice

Morality of masturbation

Dear Reader,

Biologically and psychologically speaking, masturbation is as right and normal as sneezing, coughing, laughing, eating, and yawning. It carries no health risks but does carry benefits. It can help alleviate insomnia, get you in touch with what turns you on sexually, and be a stress–reliever (of course, if you're worrying about the morality factor, it may not be much help with that last one).

The morality of masturbation, as it relates to your religious, cultural, or spiritual beliefs, is something you will have to decide for yourself. Many people seek the help of family, friends, books, life experience, and/or clergy or other religious leaders. You mention feeling too embarrassed to talk to your priest about it. Is there perhaps another individual you would feel more comfortable tos talk with who also shares your religious beliefs or background? The answers don't have to come today, but arriving at conclusions about sex-related matters that you can live with may be one way to say good-bye to guilt.

On guilt, psychiatrist R.D. Laing said "True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is." What do you suppose makes you feel guilty about masturbating? For many people, societal or family messages about masturbation being "wrong" or "dirty" can stick in our consciousness even when we "logically" no longer believe such declarations. Others may have had a parent "discover" them masturbating at a young age and still carry shame from a disapproving parental reaction. If your religion says masturbation is wrong, what are the reasons given? And how do those reasons sit with you?

If it turns out that nothing about masturbation seems to "rub you the wrong way," it may be worth working through the guilt so that you can continue to enjoy this pastime that is enjoyed by so many others. But if it begins to feel morally questionable to you, stopping may be the best route for you. On such decisions, Sting once said: "Let your soul be your pilot. It'll guide you well."

Alice

Beatless in Seattle: Masturbation stops when relationship begins

Dear Beatless In Seattle,

It's great that you are in a relationship in which you're sexually satisfied! Your thoughts (thanks for sharing) touch on a couple of issues. Masturbation is not mandatory — you may choose not to "beat off" while with your current girlfriend or with future partners, but doing so is not "silly" or dirty. Masturbating and being in a loving relationship are not mutually exclusive, and many people in relationships use masturbation, alone or with a partner, as a healthy release of sexual energy — just as they did when they were single.

Solo sex is not a shameful betrayal of one's partner and is not reserved for one gender. Rather, masturbation is one of the many kinds of sexual activities that people enjoy. Like intercourse, masturbation is healthy, enjoyable, and normal. Of course, if masturbation replaces sex between partners without mutual consent, or if its popularity with one partner leaves the other sexually dissatisfied, partners may need to talk about what would constitute a sexually satisfying relationship.

Guilt before, during, and/or after masturbation is not uncommon among "beaters" of all ages, and may stem from moral, religious, and/or social doctrines that disapprove of it. Breathing a huge sigh of relief when you have a new partner because it replaces a need for self-pleasuring may be problematic. After all, the frequency of sex with a partner may vary widely in cases of illness, stress, or even travel that separates partners. When a partner is not in the mood, or when your mate is "away," it doesn't mean that your dominant hand shouldn't play. As such, you may want to consider asking yourself some questions that may help you better understand why you came (pun intended) to the conclusion that you did about self-gratification:

  • What were you taught about masturbation? Who taught you about it?
  • When did you first discover masturbation?
  • How did you feel before, during, and after masturbating, i.e., guilt, excitement?
  • If applicable, how does your community (social, religious, etc.) regard masturbation?

Finally, you may want to consider discussing this issue with your girlfriend. Does she share the same beliefs about masturbation? What does she think about masturbation in a relationship? How would you (and your girlfriend) feel about including mutual masturbation during sex? Having this discussion is up to you, but you may find that discussing desires and new ways of giving pleasure may positively affect your sex life with your girlfriend.

Perhaps it would be helpful to learn more about masturbation and other ways of achieving sexual pleasure. You may want to check out the responses in the Go Ask Alice! sexuality archives (there is a section devoted to masturbation).

Remember, partner sex may rock your world, but this doesn't mean that beating off needs to take a beating…

Alice

Erection detection

Dear J,

Simply put, no. Neither your past masturbation and porn viewing, nor your refusal to sexually stimulate yourself again (despite your possible desire to do so) is directly causing your erections. Your body is paying attention to emotional and physical stimulation — and you're right, sometimes you don't even have to be consciously thinking about sex in any way for an erection to arise. This also means that getting an erection shouldn't mean to you (or your partner) that sex is your goal. Erections — frequent or few-and-far-between — mean that you're mentally and physically responsive, chock full of naturally produced, stimulating hormones, alive, and, yes, very normal! For sure, releasing your sexual energy by going back to masturbation may reduce the frequency of your erections when you are with your partner — but of course, that decision is up to you.

When, or if, you tell your partner that your hard-ons hardly mean sex, you might suggest that she take them as a compliment — evidence that you're truly happy to be with her. If you're not up for chatting about your excitements just yet, you might make them less obvious by wearing brief-style underwear that allows for preventive penis positioning. In other words, when an erection comes, your pants will bulge like an igloo, instead of a tee-pee.

Underwear monitoring, as well as suggestions to think about your school work, something sad, or another turn-off that encourages flaccidity, seem like a lot of energy to expend on something that's as natural as yawning when you're tired. Your belief that masturbation is wrong — when in or out of a relationship — may produce tension within yourself, and between you and your partner. Perhaps some of that anxiety is encouraging your immediate concerns about erection detection. To help decide potential directions for the future, you may also want to take a look at the related questions. Regardless of how you choose to proceed, remember that you're quite normal. Happy dating!

Alice

Save own cum?

Dear Stroker,

It's always better when it's wetter! As far as the research goes, there are no scientific studies on the preservation of pre-cum for masturbation lubrication. However, bacteria does live on the human skin and in the air at all times. Because of pre-cum's exposure to skin and air, it would be an ideal medium for bacteria to proliferate if stored in a container over time. This bacteria could then be transferred to your penis (or more specifically, openings in the head such as the urethra) during masturbation, potentially causing a urinary tract or urethral infection. Instead, why don't you splurge and try a consumer water-based lube? Greasing the wheels with a touch of this stuff will leave your engines roaring. And you may be happy to know that "a little dab'll do ya good" — that is, you won't need much to do the trick!

Alice

Dry hump on chair

Dear In love with chair,

Looks like you've discovered a pleasurable way to shine the wood! This method is perfectly normal. In fact, the dry-hump method of masturbation is used by many men. There is no risk to your groin area (unless, of course, you're rubbing against spiked furniture). Every once in a while, though, you may want to masturbate manually with your hand and a lubricant, so that if or when you have intercourse, you will know the feeling and be able to be stimulated in the more "usual" way. It is possible to get so used to one method, that a particular stimulation becomes necessary for your enjoyment. You may want to check out the related Q&As for more information. Keep on groovin'!

Alice

Wants girlfriend to masturbate

Dear Argh,

Research shows that women learn to masturbate later than men, often during or after college rather than during puberty. This process includes two parts: learning to orgasm and learning to feel good about it. In the 1970s, women would meet in women's groups with safety, humor, and support to talk about many things, including orgasm -- having them, not having them; how to have them, how to have them more frequently; what works, what doesn't work; how to have them with partners; and, their feelings about orgasm. Ironically, this is not happening today. So for similar information, she can check out some of the materials, videos, and books available at woman-sensitive, sex-positive bookstores, such as Eve's Garden based in New York City and Good Vibrations in San Francisco.

Your girlfriend is not alone. There is plenty that she can do to learn (you can learn, too!), if this is truly a path your girlfriend wants to take! She may need privacy and time alone to explore her own body and to experiment, learning for herself what sensations are pleasurable. Sometimes, a nonallergenic lotion, a lube, or a vibrator can make a difference. Practice, information , and pleasure go a long way in minimizing feelings of "dirtiness" and guilt.

Alice noticed that you signed your letter "argh" and wondered about that. What is causing your frustration? Why is it so important to you that your girlfriend learn to feel comfortable masturbating? What would change in your relationship if she were to masturbate? What would change for you? What would change for her? (These are questions to ask yourself, and the answers may prove interesting.)

If your girlfriend doesn't have an orgasm when she's with you, or has never had an orgasm in her life, read the following questions found in Alice's Sexuality archives: No orgasms for girlfriend, No orgasms with boyfriend, Am I having an orgasm?, No orgasm with intercourse (female), and Easing orgasms for women.

Alice

March 22, 2012

508969
Alice. When you asked why it was important that his girlfriend learn to masturbate, that actually struck a small chord with me. I would like my girlfriend to do that, too. She and I have had this...
Alice. When you asked why it was important that his girlfriend learn to masturbate, that actually struck a small chord with me. I would like my girlfriend to do that, too. She and I have had this discussion before. She has no idea where any of her "spots" are, and it crosses my mind that it could possibly make it easier for both of them to reach a "mutual climax", aside from a physical one, if they both knew what they were doing and "where" to go. I think Argh wants this because it could possibly bring him and his girlfriend closer, it could be a turn on, and it really could help him to get to "know" his girlfriend, too. Sincerely, ~Low Flyer

Surprise! It's Masturbation!

Dear Reader,

Is this type of behavior common for kids? Yes. Children and infants have been known to touch or rub their genitals for pleasure. However, this type of masturbation is not sexual in nature. Touching their genitals is just one way kids learn about their bodies. Also, young children rarely have sexual fantasies, they just know what feels good.  Movements that give pleasurable sensations are common for youngsters (as well as for oldsters).

Can it cause orgasm? Yes. If the sensations are intense enough, muscle tension and/or clitoral stimulation (or penile stimulation in males) can and does cause arousal, pleasure, and orgasm.

Alice

April 16, 2004

20545
Alice, I remember thinking, when I was about four or five, that sitting on a fence with my legs spread and wiggling a little bit felt really nice. At the time, I had no idea this was connected to...
Alice, I remember thinking, when I was about four or five, that sitting on a fence with my legs spread and wiggling a little bit felt really nice. At the time, I had no idea this was connected to anything sexual. Anyway, it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there who did this sort of thing unknowingly as a child.
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