I get that it’s normal for guys to masturbate, but is it normal for him to be watching porn while he does it? Should I be worried? -Worried Wife

Dear Worried Wife,

I’m glad you realize that it’s normal for guys to masturbate, because it is. In fact, as a guy, I’d say that the one thing that unites us is the fact that we pretty much all masturbate. While the number of times during a day may differ based on our preferences, our relationship status or just our individual sex drives, we need that release. For us, masturbating is a stress reliever, a boredom reliever, a way to last longer in bed and ultimately, a habit that we don’t want to break. Do you know how many men breathed a sigh of relief after science told us it cuts down our risk of prostate cancer?!

But here’s the thing about masturbating: it may be normal, but it’s like eating an apple when what you really want is a three-course meal. My point is that what he really wants is you, but depending on how often you guys get it on together, how stressed he is (or how stressed you are), etc, etc, sometimes it’s just easier and more convenient for him to get himself off. Generally speaking, getting himself off is a way to put less pressure on you if you just aren’t thinking about banging as often as he is. Masturbating on a regular basis generally puts him in a better mood for you, not to mention he gets better and better at lasting longer and isn’t likely to come as quickly. That’s why Ian Kerner, author of the award-winning She Comes First and Passionista, recommends masturbation as a technique to prevent premature ejaculation.

As far as watching porn while masturbating: also completely normal. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. See, women are good at the whole using-their-imaginations thing. That’s why romance novels and erotica exist. When’s the last time you caught your husband reading erotica? Exactly. The draw to porn for men is that they can take the imagination thing out of masturbating entirely. All they have to do is get on their laptops, hit a few buttons and boom! They’re privy to any type of naked activity they desire. For men, porn = fun + convenience. However, porn, for most men, does NOT replace the real thing. In fact, his favorite type of porn may clue you into some of his deepest fantasies.

That being said, there are a few reasons I might tell you to worry. If the porn he is watching is violent or contains inappropriate themes (e.g., child pornography, choking or abuse) then you may want to reconsider your relationship with this dude. Some other reasons you might worry are a) if he’s turning you down for solo sessions or b) he’s not able to enjoy the sex you’re having (i.e., has trouble cumming or seems checked out). Either of these could indicate a porn addiction. In fact, if anything I mentioned in this last paragraph is true, then I would definitely urge you to get professional help.

But if his porn routine doesn’t include violent images or seem to affect your sex life together,  and you’re still worried, I’d recommend having a heart to heart with him. If you haven’t already, talk about your individual masturbation habits and ask him what kinds of things turn him on, if he’s happy with the sex you’re having and if there’s anything new he’d like to try in the bedroom (Roleplay? Toys? Some kinky stuff?). Try to be open, curious and nonjudgmental. Think about what you’re willing to do. Would you be willing to watch porn with him? How about do some mutual masturbation before having sex? By approaching your concerns with him this way, you help keep the conversation open and avoid having him completely avoid talking to you about something he enjoys.