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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:17 am
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I'm wondering if anyone has dealt with this issue or has any advice to give. Both sides welcome and encouraged to respond!

My partner (SA) can be very triggered by me masturbating at times. Other times, it is a non-issue. He does not want to take issue with it, but it can become very upsetting for him at times. I do not want to stop as it doesn't feel fair, and is something I enjoy as a way to engage in self-love and experience pleasure. I am highly sexual and enjoy sex and pleasure often. I would almost always prefer sex with my partner, but that has been very strained throughout the 22 months we have been in recovery. He has also had many rounds of sexual anorexia and is disinterested in sex with me. He is currently experiencing that now.

We have tried me just not telling him when I do, but he can feel disconnected with that agreement. When I tell him, most of the time it is ok or he at least doesn't show or say that it is triggering for him. Other times, he becomes very upset, can be harsh with me about it, and I am left feeling some sexual shame. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 1:47 pm 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 564
My first thought is, is it really any of his business?

In a good relationship with intimacy and respect, we would talk to our partners about issues like this. Some couples incorporate masturbation into their sexual intimacy, some don't. I believe for you, for us, right now, masturbation is private. Not secret; but private. I assume that you don't masturbate compulsively. Since compulsive masturbation, especially when anorexia is involved, is a real concern for our addicted partners, what is secret and private for them is much more difficult. They need to be brutally honest with themselves about whether or not their masturbation is compulsive, ritualistic, a prelude to increased acting out with fantasy, and, well, you know.

I'm curious why he brings this up right now. Is this something you share with him. If so, do you know why? I think there is a large element of control that addicts bring to their interactions with us. I know my husband wants to control my sexuality out of his own unhealthy needs. This is an area where clear boundaries are important.

So, yes, I have experienced controlling, shaming questions from my husband. Work hard on not accepting the shame. But, and I say this from personal experience, I had to be careful not to use this issue as a way to hurt or shame my husband.

I believe that keeping my personal sexual activity private, as long as it is faithful, is something that is mine and mine alone. It is none of my husband's business. In a different relationship, could this be an open issue: Well, of course. But I don't have that kind of relationship. Learning boundaries about NOT letting him shame you is very important. It's hard, but a critical step in our healing.

dnell


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:17 am
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Hi dnell,

Thank you for your reply. Great questions and points!

As far as whether or not masturbation is compulsive for me: I have a history of compulsive masturbation, starting at a young age, growing up in a very abusive home. I learned over time the difference between compulsive masturbation and healthy masturbation. There are times it can be considered compulsive in some ways I suppose, like self soothing in times of stress, or fantasy components. It also doesn’t impede on my life in any way, nor does it impact my ability to be intimate with my partner.

So, before he started masturbating in secret in our relationship, we were both very open about masturbating and even watching porn, whether individually or together. It is since discovery this has become an issue on and off. It was understandably triggering for him when I would do it, since he couldn’t. He didn’t feel it was “fair”, to which I would say it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I like the distinction between private and secret. Sometimes I think it is better to not tell him, because it can be triggering. But, when he says that he feels disconnected from me and wants me to share with the same level of openness that he does, I have a hard time keeping it to myself. So, I have left it up to him as far as whether he wants to know or not, and he now does. I guess there is an element of control, since he raises the most issue with it when we are not engaging in any sexual activities that are not solely focused on just him and I. There have been times since discovery that we have engaged in watching porn and fantasizing together, and even being sexual with others together. When these things are off the table, me masturbating is more of a trigger for him. It’s like if he can’t have what he wants, I should have to go without, too. He gets jealous and has gone to the point of wanting to explore what healthy masturbation would look like for him. I have told him that his sexuality is for him to decide, although I don’t think he has a good sense of what is compulsive and what isn’t for himself. I’m left feeling blamed for him not being able to masturbate, which of course is not my fault. I have no issue with masturbation, porn, fantasizing, or open relationships for that matter – in fact I enjoy all of these. I’m also not interested in being the one to decide what he can and can’t do, although I don’t believe that what I am doing or not doing, should weigh in to his decisions and vice versa.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:50 pm 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 496
This all can get quite confusing, especially when we have a partner who hasn't developed mature life management skills and emotional maturity.

Dnell's advice is spot on. In addition, perhaps a reframe on your part may help here. If your husband were an alcoholic in recovery, (or even long out of recovery) would his addiction impact whether you will enjoy a glass of wine on occasion? Of course, with sex addiction we have a more nuanced perspective because generally we hope the sex addict doesn't become totally a teetotaler--we want to see him/her integrate a healthy sexuality in his life. However, the example can still apply for now.

I have a friend whose husband is an alcoholic about 8 years post total recovery. He's turned his life around. Through it all, she continued to enjoy wine at family gatherings, a couple times a week, etc. Her take on it, and I think this is healthy, is that her husband's recovery was/is HIS recovery. And he needed to learn to be in the presence of alcohol in a healthy way, and his alcoholism wasn't her problem (even though it affected her life).

Right now your husband likely lacks the capacity to see this all in a healthy and balanced way. And this is where you will probably need to decide, for yourself, if this is an issue you create boundaries around without it being a 'negotiation' with him. Healing as a couple is tricky: where is the line between working together through issues, and recognizing there's a significant disparity between the issues each person needs to work on. Your husband seeing this as "if he can't have what he wants, I shouldn't, too" is indicative of a still-immature way of seeing things.

What matters for YOU? Where does this all fit into your values and boundaries?


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