Is He Masturbating Instead Of Having Sex With You?

Read on to find out.

Sometimes when you're hungry, you just want a good steak. Maybe you even need a steak. You go to the market, you get a good cut of meat, you make your own marinade and tenderize the meat. You put it on the grill and make some potatoes in the oven. It's a process, but it's worth it for the end result. Other times, you say ,"Fuck it," and eat a couple fistfuls of dry cereal while you lie on the couch in sweatpants. They both satisfy your hunger and the result is the same: You ate. But they're very different journeys.

Masturbating is often the eating dry cereal on your couch of orgasming. You come, but just like no one is going to tell you dry cereal is better than steak, masturbation isn't really better than sex. I can assure you that no man thinks that.

But girlfriends and boyfriends and wives and husbands of men everywhere are still freaking out that their partners are masturbating all the time instead of having sex with them. Dozens of concerned posts populate message boards, writing, "What causes a man to masturbate instead of SEX??" and, "Why does my boyfriend masturbate when he could have sex with me instead?" Why do we feel so competitive with our partner's right hands?

"It's interesting how many people don't feel comfortable talking about masturbation," says Megan Fleming, M.D. "When someone feels secure in the relationship, they're less concerned if their partner masturbates from time to time. If you're feeling anxiety about it, it could be because there's something going on with the quality or duration of your sex life." There's no magic sex or masturbation number; no quota you should be filling as a couple. If their masturbation habits are giving you anxiety, the first thing you should do is have an open, honest talk about it.

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But let's get this out of the way: There's no right or wrong amount of masturbation a guy should be doing in a given week. Zero times is totally fine, but so is seven or 14. And masturbation has a lot of health benefits (although, if it makes you feel any better, not quite as many benefits as sex). It can help guys relieve stress and go to sleep, like jerk-off Nyquil. If it's not majorly negatively affecting his quality of life, he's probably masturbating a fine amount.

In fact, according to a study from UCLA, regular masturbation can actually increase a guy's sexual appetite. "It's much more of a concern when someone isn't masturbating and is sexually shut down," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of She Comes First. "That said, there is such a thing as over-masturbation and masturbation can be problematic when it depletes a guy's libido."

So why do guys even feel the need to masturbate so often? Men and women have very different sex drives. According to Kerner, it's a lot easier for guys to get in the mood. "A guy is working at home on his computer goes to check out some sports scores, sees a pop-up ad for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and next thing you know he's perusing porn," he offers up as an example. Men are like the dog from Up, if the dog from Up wanted to jerk off all the time instead of just getting distracted. It's really easy for guys to get turned on and then take care of business, especially if you're not around or the timing is inappropriate.

That three minutes he's taking before he jumps in the shower when he's getting ready for work is probably not an instance in which you'd even want to have sex with him. There are plenty of ways to fulfill a quick orgasm need without getting as involved as having sex—mutual masturbation, for example—but usually the issue is just imbalanced sex drives. "A lot of women aren't necessarily interested in more sex," says Dr. Fleming, but, she says, if the partner with the lower sex drive tries masturbating more often, their libido may actually be able to catch up with their hornier partner.

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"It's quite normal for a guy to masturbate regularly and be interested in having sex regularly. Couples with a healthy, happy sex life still have a place for self-pleasure that doesn't detract from the relationship," says Kerner.

So unless you're really into your guy running up to you in the middle of the night—or during the day or when you're trying to get ready for work—ejaculating with no regard for your needs in about three minutes, and then running away, no, he's not masturbating instead of having sex with you. He's masturbating to save you from having a terrible, inconvenient tryst when he just needs to hammer one out as fast as possible. He's taking an orgasm bullet for you. And then he can still have sex with you later. Hell, he might even last longer.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors. 

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