My Partner Cheated On Me With Their Right Hand


This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.

Will someone please explain this to me?

Because I do not get it at all.

Main_de_Jules_Dalou_par_J.LeclerqI’m talking about masturbation jealousy. I’m talking about people who get jealous, not when their partners get attracted to other people, not when their partners look at porn starring other people, but when their partners masturbate. And I mean seriously jealous. Not “a little twinge of weirdness” jealous; not “I know this is irrational but I just can’t help feeling this way” jealous. I mean, “This is legitimately hurtful and threatening to me, it’s a violation of sexual trust, and I expect you to stop it” jealous.

And I do not get it at all.

Admittedly, I’m not necessarily the best person to ask about jealousy. I tend to rank fairly far down on the jealousy scale; to me, the fact that my partner gets interested in other people seems pretty normal, and not a particularly big deal. But it’s not like I don’t get it at all. I’m human. I get twinges. And I’ve felt serious, hard-core jealousy before, in bad relationships with people I didn’t trust and shouldn’t have. It’s not like the emotion is alien to me.

But getting jealous of your partner masturbating? That, I am totally baffled by. I’m trying to figure it out. And I might need someone to explain it to me.

Let’s take a closer look at jealousy for a moment. We tend to think of jealousy as a single emotion. But I don’t think that’s so. I think it’s more accurate to think of jealousy as a stew of different emotions. It’s part fear — fear that your partner will leave you for someone else. It’s part insecurity — insecurity about your own value and desirability in comparison to someone else. It’s part hurt feelings — hurt feelings of being unwanted, rejected, left out. And it’s part just flat-out controlling possessiveness — the feeling that your partner’s sexuality belongs to you now, and that they shouldn’t have any sexual feelings or experiences that don’t involve you.

Now.

Which of these feelings have anything at all to do with a partner masturbating?

It’s almost certainly not fear. It’s not impossible, I suppose; but I highly doubt that very many people are genuinely afraid that their partner will leave them to pursue more masturbation.

VaselineAnd for much the same reason, I don’t think it’s insecurity. Are there people in the world who are anxious about their partner whacking off and making unflattering comparisons? Are there people in the world who are genuinely concerned that, compared to a vibrator or a right hand and a jar of Vaseline, they just don’t stack up? Maybe. But I’m skeptical.

What about hurt feelings? Possibly. In the same way that some people feel rejected or left out if their partner eats dinner without them, goes to a movie without them, has a drink with colleagues after work without them, there may well be some people who feel rejected or left out if their partner has an orgasm without them.

But my money’s on possessiveness and control.

MineI speculate (and I will freely admit that this is speculation, it’s not like I’ve done a peer- reviewed study or anything) that 90% of jealousy over masturbation has to do with the idea that, once you get into a relationship with someone, their sexuality should be 100% focused on you. It’s not just that they shouldn’t have sex with other people, shouldn’t look at other people, shouldn’t maintain friendships with people they’ve had sex with in the past. They shouldn’t even have sex with themselves. They shouldn’t enjoy their bodies, and their bodies’ capacity for sexual pleasure, if you’re not there. Their sexuality belongs to you now. According to this way of thinking, that’s just part of the implicit contract of a relationship.

And this, I think, is why it baffles me.

I get the other parts of jealousy. I get being afraid that you’re going to be left for someone else. I get feeling insecure about your attractiveness, and feeling anxious about being compared to other people. I even get feeling hurt and rejected if you’re not included in something that you care about and want to be a part of. These aren’t always the most useful emotions in a relationship, but they’re certainly human, and they’re certainly understandable. And they can be dealt with, in a variety of creative ways.

But I absolutely do not get the part about how being in a relationship means diverting every milliliter of your sexuality towards your partner — and how any divergence from this is tantamount to betrayal. I think that’s just loony-tunes. What’s more, it’s loony-tunes in a way that’s singularly inflexible, impenetrable to negotiation or processing or reason.

And I think that’s what expecting your partner not to masturbate — and getting jealous when they do — amounts to.

I think. I could be wrong. I really don’t get this. Can somebody explain it to me?

Please note: I’m not talking about the “My partner masturbates all the time and we never have sex together anymore” situation. That’s different.

Comments

  1. says

    As long as she’s not using *your* right hand, my wife can play “Hello Kitty: The Home Game” all she likes.

  2. Noah says

    My woman worries that if I stay up late on the computer and end up masturbating, I masturbated because I don’t want to have sex with her. This is, of course, not true, but it comes up once in a blue moon anyway. The only feeling close to, “I don’t want to have sex with you” is, “I’m too tired for a whole-body workout tonight.” which I feel occasionally. But I tell her that earlier in the night. *shrugs* Some people are just insecure, I think.
    Noah

  3. says

    I have heard the request from a boyfriend to a girlfriend, “please don’t get a vibrator that’s much bigger than me, because then I’ll feel insecure.”
    Which, in a way, I understand (as much as I can for being female.) Although I would think that the point of a vibrator is that there is no comparison to human anatomy because nothing moves that fast!
    Other than that, I don’t understand it either.

  4. says

    From my experience with a jealous partner or two, the issue for them was that they were aware that my fantasies were not about them – which is what they really wanted. They wanted my full attention sexually in any act I was involved in. I don’t have to guess about this, because each of them told me so explicitly.

  5. bob says

    When I was married, to a very sweet girl, she cried if she discovered that I had masturbated. To her it was a direct condemnation of her, a statement that she wasn’t good enough, wasn’t satisfying me. She believed that a healthy sex life meant no desire to masturbate.

  6. Indigo says

    @Bob – so wait, what if she wasn’t home, and you were bored and really horny, so you had a quick one off the wrist? Would this provoke the similar storm of tears?

  7. ToppHogg says

    @indigo – Bob is correct. I have experienced the same set of complaints from my partner, who sadly isn’t quite as satisfying as she likes to think she is.
    It seems to stem from the partner’s existing lack of self-esteem and a readiness to personally take on the blame for not measuring up – because if anyone found out, she would be seen as not taking care of her man. The embarrassment of THAT is not to be borne, but don’t you DARE bring up the fact that her sexual frequency and performance leave a lot to be desired.
    I suspect that the focus of such partners is exclusively inward. What little is done for the partner is supposed to be sufficient, because their own needs are so minimal. It may be due to shame, or some other deep-seated guilt, but sexual expression rates low on the priority list. And the partner’s needs are not to exceed that level.
    Now before the women all flame me, the reversed-gender situation also happens. I have a female friend whose husband never satisfied her, and finally divorced him rather than remain unsatisfied. She has since found a partner who takes care of her business most satisfactorily! All the complaints I made above about my situation she made about hers. To sum up, either gender can be the offender, and either can be the offended.

  8. Eclectic says

    I’m experiencing a bit of that… one of my SOs had a prior SO who would decline an invitation to sex and go off and masturbate instead. This was a manipulative act. So my SO has a bit of a complex about it.
    The agreement between us is that if sie’s around, and I’m horny, I’ll ask hir and basically offer right of first refusal to participate. Specifically “even if it’s late and I’m asleep and I have to get up in the morning”.
    It’s a bit odd, but my SO recognizes that it’s irrational and has asked me to cater to it anyway. And it’s hard to complain about free oral sex (or whatever I want) anytime I want it followed by thanks for asking…

  9. WScott says

    I think Bob & ToppHogg nailed it. Some people see their partner’s masterbation as a failure on their part. To quote the BBC show Coupling (not to be confused with the god-awful US remake): “I pride myself on my cooking. So if you feel the urge to nip out for a sandwich between meals, I’d be obliged if you didn’t advertise it.”
    And don’t forget there are still an awful lot of people who regard masturbation itself as something dirty, shameful and bad.

  10. says

    Cool post and comments! Well my wife doesn’t masturbates or if she does it is so rarely that you can pretty much say she doesn’t.
    For my part luckily in the wasteland that is our sex life, this is the one oasis where I can drink. So for me porn and masturbastion IS the sex life.
    She doesn’t hold it against me. I don’t think she feels jealousy over this. She doesn’t ask, I don’t say. It’s an unspoken pact of laissez-faire.
    I guess that she has set her parameters to ‘as long as he doesn’t bother me or go to another woman I’ll leave him to it’.
    Interestingly I asked her once (whilst watching some program about Virtual Reality or Second Life or something), if she would consider sex with a software construct as ‘cheating’. She said no. I asked what if the VR was so realistic that it actually felt like real sex (years in the future)? She said she didn’t think that would be cheating either.
    I can’t wait for VR and the future!

  11. KShep says

    Ah, I’m going to chime in with the (to me, anyway) obvious aspect of this that no one else seems to see:
    Jealousy isn’t always about lack of self esteem, fear, etc. It’s often about control. In my experiences, jealous people are simply control freaks who can’t stand it when their partner makes any kind of decision that doesn’t include them. It’s like they’re saying, “I want you to only think of me and my needs at all times. If you’re participating in any kind of activity that doesn’t include me, it’s cheating, because I say so, and I’m determined to stop you from doing it.”
    Have you ever noticed how the jealous partner never ends the relationship over their “concerns?” No, they stay in the relationship and continue their campaign to change the “unfaithful” partner, who often isn’t doing anything wrong. I think most people wouldn’t stay for long in a relationship with a serial cheater (yes, I know, there are many examples of this, but that’s a different subject), yet the jealous ones, forever accusing their partners of infidelity, always stay. I think that alone says a lot.

  12. ToppHogg says

    @KShep: your additions to the discussion ring true based on my experience.
    My partner is very into control, to the point where her list of acceptable behaviors is so very much longer than mine. I get accused of cheating on her if I’m so much as five minutes later coming home from work than she thinks it should take me! She also isn’t about to leave the relationship no matter how bad it might get (not that it’s all that bad for her) because “marriage is for life”. I am supposed to remain mindful of her needs to the exclusion of my own, and she even found an evangelical “counselor” to back her up when we once tried to “improve” the relationship – improved based on HER definitions, that is.
    It may be that I’ve been a sucker all these years, and I am the one suffering for it. But there may yet come some good from my pain. Maybe our tales of woe related here will cause someone else to think before leaping over the marriage cliff. The life you save just might be your own!

  13. kim. says

    I feel sort of like if he’s masturbating, I’m not doing good enough.
    Like, I’ll give him a blow job or a hand job if I’m on my period, or he’s turned on and I’m not (although, this rarely happens cause his sex drive is lower then mine), but I want to be the one to make him happy, I guess.
    I wouldn’t freak out if he masturbated without me, I’d just feel a bit like I would have rather done it.

  14. ToppHogg says

    It sounds to me, kim, that you are already more than he needs (“his sex drive is lower then mine”).
    I empathize with your plight, and your performance goals, but we dance with the ones what brung us.

  15. KShep says

    ToppHogg—-your story is so depressing to read. I have been in the same situation myself. It happens so gradually that you don’t even notice how complete the transition to spineless jellyfish is until you get out of it and look back.
    For me, it started with her complaints about me looking at other women. She accused me of ogling other women so often I wasn’t always sure who it was that I was supposedly ogling. I went along with it, thinking that it wasn’t so unreasonable to avoid looking at other women, and the control progressed to include almost every other aspect of my life. I can’t remember a day where she didn’t go after me over some kind of imagined slight on my part, usually having to do with cheating. She and I fought almost daily over this stuff.
    And guess what? She was cheating on me, regularly, at least three times that I know of, and there are many other suspicious times where I’m all but certain she did as well. Project much?
    Anyway, when I got out of it, my life improved almost immediately. You go through times where you truly believe that even thinking “Geez, Pam Anderson has enormous implants” makes you a bad guy, and when you’re free of the person who convinced you of it, you find out that those thoughts aren’t really what was wrong, it was the control freaks’ own insecurity.
    I remember what finally got me to the point of throwing her out—I had a random thought: Would I counsel anyone else to stay in a relationship like this?
    Of course I wouldn’t. And I threw her out a few days later—after catching her in bed with another guy. Again.
    I can tell you with near certainty that your spouse will not change. People like that don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, it’s everyone else who is to blame, so they refuse to get any help.
    My thoughts are with you.

  16. says

    Okay, I see this thread is old, but I’m respsonding anyway…considering it therapy for myself. I have an issue with my girlfriend masturbating. It really is only the “I know its irrational, but it hurts my feelings” type of jealousy. But certain times I will seriously cry over it. We’ve been together 7 years. Our sex life is good, not as often as I would like, but always good when its there. I would do it daily though and for her its maybe twice a month. So, she works and I stay home. Every once in a while when Im gone for like 30 minutes, I will notice that the ‘magic wand’ is in a different spot, or she has unplugged something on her side of the bed, so I know what she was doing while I was gone. I think it bothers me that “really, i was gone 20 minutes and that is what you choose to do? why not wait 20 minutes and at least let me watch?” I know that its pretty much just ‘something to do’…she is never really alone, so has to take advantage of it while I’m away. But it does hurt my feelings. Ive never said no to sex in my life, so why not want to do it with me? But I do it myself so I also know that sometimes I just want to have a quick orgasm, and be done. Its not about anybody or anything….so why do I have days where I will cry when I know she does it? I’m lame. If I could cure one thing about myself it would be this stupid s**t.

  17. says

    “But I absolutely do not get the part about how being in a relationship means diverting every milliliter of your sexuality towards your partner — and how any divergence from this is tantamount to betrayal.”
    Can you say, “low self esteem?”
    GC, I admire you for writing so lucidly on such an amusing and confusing topic. Gotta move on to another site now but please don’t tell my partner…

Leave a Reply