Masturbation and Fidelity

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While I hope things our changing for today’s youth, for many people of my generation (40+), masturbation has been a huge source of guilt, except, it seems, for those who have confronted the subject and done some inner work on it… because the perspective has changed little from the outside, it remains a pretty unspoken and invisible concept except when used for titillation on porn sites.

But there are good alternative sex sites now, more and more. The best reference I can give on the subject of masturbation is Betty Dodson, who has truly made a difference in many, many women’s (and men’s) lives by not only recognizing and validating masturbation as an honourable form of sex and self-love, she even taught people how to go about it in “hands-on” workshops!

What I’m questionning today, really, is the whole notion of fidelity, of sexual faithfulness in relation to masturbation. If we promise exclusive sexual contact with a partner, are we still being faithful to them if we masturbate, and particularly, if we masturbate while thinking or dreaming of other potential partners? Or is it the only acceptable alternative to actually getting naked with someone else?

And if we do feel sexual attraction to others while in a committed relationship, does this somehow make us wrong, unfaithful, unworthy? We can stop ourselves from masturbating, from thinking about sex with others, and especially, from actually “doing it”. But does that take away the fact that we are sexual beings who naturally have feelings, pulsions, fears and desires towards a myriad of people around us?

I guess we each have to set our own limits and discuss them with our partners. Never an easy thing to do, especially if they’re coming from a different set of values and beliefs. While faithfulness and commitment can be wonderful qualities in a person, and especially in a relationship, at what price must they be maintained if it goes against the grain of a person’s natural sensual make-up? In a perfect world, we allow ourselves to truly be who we are, and loving ourselves can include masturbation and openness to others.

In our imperfect world, too often we let our own insecurities dictate our visions and our actions, and out of fear we end up attacking others no matter how much love is being offered; for if we cannot give ourselves the love that we need, the sex that we need, the inner security that we need, we will never be satisfied with what another equally imperfect human being attempts to offer us.

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