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Is Solo Sex Hurting Your Relationship?

Wives often get upset if husbands are engaging in solo sex, such as masturbation or phone sex. But who is hurting whom?
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Who's in Charge of Sexual Fantasies? continued...

She says individuals are entitled to their own thoughts, even that society might deem repugnant. And to police a mate's sexual thoughts and feelings is downright unrealistic. "They're in for a shock," says Weston, who also answers questions on WebMD's Sex Matters® message board.

Harley disagrees. "My basic rule for marriages is that all your sex, including fantasies, should be with each other. First, your wife will want it that way. Second, if your wife is your exclusive sexual outlet, you'll have a much better romantic relationship."

Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, says psychologically there's a contrast effect involved in looking at other women and fantasizing about them. "Your wife can't measure up. Sex with her will be boring. But if you can avoid the temptation, every time you make love with her will be wonderful."

Limiting sex to one's partner may be contrary to human drives, he says, but as a sophisticated culture, we've agreed it's good for society to rein in certain drives. "We live in a monogamous society I'm not exactly sure we're wired for, but we've decided monogamy is a good idea," he says. "Pornography is really difficult to resist. It shows up in email every day. Erase it or get filters."

Join the Fun

Noting there are now lines of erotic videos and web sites designed for women, Weston says more and more women are enjoying explicit images. "Some women think that any porn, which I call 'explicit images,' degrades the people who made them and that the actors did it under coercion," Weston says. "That's not true. Granted there are porn mills where people are taken advantage of, but plenty of people are doing it as a legitimate business."

Instead of trying to restrict a mate's online or phone sex, she suggests joining in. "A lot of couples are going online together." One couple she counseled involved a woman who was upset because her partner didn't want sex as often as he once did. In therapy, he disclosed that he was masturbating to images online, specifically to erotic images of women having their hair cut. "The woman said, 'Let's look at it together.' Once they got it out in the open and shared it, things were fine." Weston adds, "Sex is adult play. Go play."

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