In today’s meeting I read from the book by Milton S. Magness, D.Min. “STOP Sex Addiction: Real Hope, True Freedom For Sex Addicts and Partners” on the topic of Compulsive Masturbation. We then discussed our own thoughts on masturbation.
Maurice had never been sexual with anyone other than his wife. Raised in a very conservative family, Maurice did not date much as a teenager. With his family’s very strict religious beliefs, he did not feel he was allowed to ask questions about sex or have any real sex education. his parents did have “the talk” with him when he was fifteen. His father told him that when he was married, he would get very close to his wife and that their resulting relationship would produce babies.
More confused that informed, he found some sex education from friends. To further fill the information void, Maurice started looking up sexual topics on the Internet. He found that he could get information on any sexual behavior and could even find photos and videos of people engaging in various sexual acts. That early search for knowledge turned into a time-consuming addiction by the time he was married. When his wife finally caught him looking at pornography online, he had developed a habit of engaging in cybersex behaviors for at least two hours a day. Most of his behavior was limited to browsing pornographic websites, but he recently has been following conversations in sexual chat rooms.
While he has not yet engaged in chat with anyone, Maurice is thinking about starting what he considers to be harmless chat. While online he has masturbated, sometimes multiple times a day. A few times he masturbated to the point of injury. Lately, Maurice’s wife has complained that he is just no interested in sex with her, and she wonders why not. He realizes that he needs to stop this behavior because of the negative impact it is having on his marriage. But so far he has not been successful in being able to stop his compulsive masturbation or his use of online pornography.
The topic of masturbation is difficult for some people to talk about. Studies show that virtually all men and a significant portion of women have masturbated at one time or another. There is an assumption that masturbation is something individuals outgrow as they leave their teenage years. In fact, a number of people, both men and women, continue masturbating throughout their adult lives. Masturbation not only can have negative impact on the sexual relationship in committed relationships, but it may also impact communication and conflict-resolution skills.
How Can Masturbation Damage a Relationship Outside of the Sexual Realm?
The answer is that women and men approach sex differently. Women typically require an emotional connection with their partner if they are going to have sex. If problems or conflict exist in the relationship, they must be addressed before many women are willing to be sexual. It is a different story with men. Men do not have to have an emotional connection to have sex. They can completely separate sex from love or emotion. If a man wants to be sexual but there is some emotional baggage in the relationship, his wife will probably want to “unpack” that baggage before being sexual. As for him, if he is not willing to wait or make the emotional investment in the relationship, he can masturbate – literally be sexual with himself – and not have to expend any emotional energy.
The fact is that sexually addicted men may choose to continue their self-centered, narcissistic acting out through masturbation rather than attend to the emotional and communication concerns of the relationship. For many men, masturbation becomes a compulsive act that they use to medicate pain, stress, loneliness, fear, anger, or other emotions. For that reason, I believe that masturbation within a committed relationship is often selfish and may contribute significantly to the couple having a lower-than-desired frequency of sexual intimacy.
Perhaps the biggest problem with masturbation is that it is a gateway behavior that often ignites other acting-out behaviors. Before frequenting sexual massage parlors, before the clandestine affair, before seeking out prostitutes, many sex addicts have spent numerous sessions masturbating and then rationalizing their behavior by saying that they were engaging only in masturbation and fantasy. In other words, they see the self-gratifying action as pertaining only to themselves and not to their spouse as a statement of rejection or withholding of pleasure. The neurochemical reinforcement provided when on masturbates to fantasy is powerful. The resulting changes in brain chemistry give a person a high not unlike the high that comes form using certain illegal drugs.