Maureen O’Connor wonders about the role masturbation plays in relationships:
Most studies find that a big majority of married Americans report masturbating (and since it’s self-reporting, that probably undersells it). “Even if I had all the men in the world that I wanted in my bed, even if I had Ryan Gosling, I would still masturbate with sex toys,” French sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette recently told me. “I don’t want to go back to a world without plastic!”
On the other hand, well, masturbation is sort of inherently antisocial. Within the bounds of a relationship defined, in part, by both partners’ willingness to devote sexual energy to one another, it can be downright rude. Can we ever really get over the embarrassment of purely personal indulgence? Or take the indulgence of your partner as anything other than a rejection of you? Even if we want to be open, practically and emotionally, exposing deeply private habits to anyone — even the one you love — is reflexively uncomfortable. And hearing your girlfriend rev up her vibrator after saying she’s going to sleep early can be hard to shake. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean that the negotiations won’t be awkward or that the concessions will be easy to get used to.