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?
Who's in Charge of Sexual Fantasies? continued...
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
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."
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Behavior
The San Jose Centre researchers described the 8% minority for
whom online sex was problematical as "compulsive" and those among them
who averaged 38 hours in online sexual activities as "sex addicts."
Furthermore, problems correlated positively with the amount of time spent in
online sexual activities.
Not all sex therapists agree with the addiction model. "I'm not a fan of the idea that
people can be addicted to sex in the same way someone can be addicted to drugs," says Weston. She
does feel that solo sex can become obsessive, a line that's crossed in a
relationship when explicit and tacit agreements are subordinated to the
"We don't approach solo sex as either a healthy and
unhealthy form of behavior," says Schnarch, author of Passionate
Marriage and Resurrecting Sex. "It's a couples issue, not a
medical issue. Anybody is free to decide (and usually does) what is healthy and
what isn't, and usually couples are clear about it. It's relational politics:
'if I like it and it doesn't make me nervous, it's OK," or "if what
you're doing makes me nervous, it's not.'"