When I was younger, mutual masturbation was a fun thing I did for a few minutes with a sexual partner before moving on to other activities. Then I discovered how a buzzing bullet vibrator could bring me to a roaring orgasm.
The next time I was in a relationship, I wanted to share what I’d learned with my new partner. After intercourse, I’d pull out my sex toys while he cheered and commented from the sidelines. It felt special to share an intimate activity with someone I loved.
But after we broke up a year later, solo sex stopped feeling empowering. Flashbacks of his commentary would pop up just when I reached the height of orgasm, bringing on a wave of grief. I didn’t date again for a long time.
The Impact of Poor Boundaries
Recently in a friends-with-benefits scenario, I once again pulled out my sex toys with an enthusiastic partner. He mentioned he loved watching women squirt, and I shared that, with the help of a toy that stimulated my G-spot, I used to squirt geysers. The next time he texted, “Bring your toys.”
Afterward, I asked him how much I’d squirted. Friends-With-Benefits said, a little roughly, “Only a little. I’ve had better.”
A cold chill washed over me, followed by a deep flush. I didn’t see him again. I promised myself I wouldn’t masturbate to orgasm with a partner again outside a committed, healthy relationship.
My next lover was skilled in bed but refused to go down on women or even finger me beyond a few strokes. I enjoy intercourse, but like many women, I need a clitoral orgasm to feel sated. I told myself this lover was sweet and sensitive and wouldn’t hurt me like the last one. So, I broke my promise to myself.
After each romp, as I worked to bring myself to a clitoral climax while he watched or stroked me at my request, his eyes would wander, clearly bored. I frowned. One time, right when I was moaning and yelling, he got up and wandered over to the bathroom. Once again, I promised myself I would save this intimacy for a committed relationship.
Finding Safer Ways to Masturbate with a Partner
If you find yourself in a similar pattern, try this exercise.
Decide how intimate self-love activities are to you
Make a list of solo sex activities such as touching yourself, masturbating to climax, squirting, or anal play. Then write down the types of sexual relationships you want to have in your life right now like one-night stands, friends with benefits, sex parties/BDSM parties, short-term dating, long-term dating, or committed (polygamous and/or monogamous) relationships.
With what sorts of partners are you comfortable sharing this intimacy?
Now pair the sexual activities with the relationship types. For instance, in a one-night stand, which of these solo sex activities are you comfortable sharing? Is anal play on the table, or masturbating to climax? Which activities are you comfortable sharing with a more regular but casual sex partner? Which, if any, would you prefer to save for a committed relationship?
On a new page, now write down your list of boundaries for solo sex in the different relationship contexts. Store this piece of paper with your sex toys, safer sex items, or BDSM equipment—somewhere you’ll see it the next time you’re preparing to get busy with a partner. Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll honor these boundaries and adjust them as needed.
Remember to go slowly
Gradually introduce a new activity into your sex play with a partner and see how it feels. If it feels good, try a little more next time. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, stop.
For example, if you want to show your partner how you play with your favorite anal beads, you could start with some anal massage on yourself. See how they respond and how you feel afterward. The next time you’re together, try inserting a finger. If a few days go by and you still feel positive about the interaction, ask yourself if you’re ready to introduce your anal toy or if you want to add a few more warm-up steps first.
Remember, even if you’ve already been masturbating with your partner—or doing any sexual activity—for days, months, or even years, that doesn’t mean you have to continue. You can stop at any time. Listen to what your body says and make a commitment to share and honor your boundaries.
Pleasuring yourself in the company of others can be a fun way to bond. But it’s important to set boundaries on how and when you share this intimacy. Reflect on which solo sex activities might feel vulnerable to share with a lover. Then decide on boundaries for each kind of sexual relationship you wish to pursue in your life right now. Introduce new sexual activities in steps and take a break between each to see how you feel before moving forward.
Have you ever had problems with masturbation in your relationship? Let us know below.