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?
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.'"
Resolving Solo Sex Issues
Sometimes partners are so polarized on the issue of solo sex
that counseling is needed. Resolving a couple's issues around solo sex is a
process of helping them figure out what's going on in the relationship and what
it means to them, says Schnarch. "Some therapists will take the attitude
that erotica is wrong and will get involved in adjudicating proper sexual
behavior in relationships. We don't. For some couples, the issue is
growing up and realizing that when your partner masturbates the fantasies
aren't about you. For other couples it's recognizing there's a war going on
over sex in the relationship, and one person's use of erotica is either an
attack or a way of balancing out having sex withheld. There are many reasons
people look at erotica."