Beliefnet

Dear Shmuley,
I have a friend who is not in a relationship. She has never had sex, but she constantly masturbates. What advice can I give her to stop, and how can I even bring the subject up?
--Concerned Friend

Hi, Friend,
Masturbation minimizes our sexual dependency on other people. Hence, its harmful nature.

There was a time when men and women used to marry to have sex. Love and a desire for shared sexual excitement drove them into each other's arms, and there was nothing shallow or superficial about it. Their purpose was to know each other in the deepest possible way. Sex outside of marriage was not an option, and the only way to have sex was for a man to make a woman his wife and for a woman to make a man her husband.

Of course today, sex has been cheapened into a recreational pastime, and has lost its potency as a result.

But there is another dangerous way, besides empty premarital sex, to lessen our dependency on finding the right person to enjoy passionate sex with through a lifetime of marriage--masturbation.

 

Think about this logically. If sex is a necessity, and you deny yourself the release of built-up sexual steam, then you are that much more likely to get out there and find a permanent sex partner in marriage because you simply can't live without it. Men and women who don't masturbate feel a greater gravitation to the opposite sex than those who find constant sexual release through self-pleasure because they are being pushed from the inside toward a soul-mate who is also their lover.

So this discussion begs the question: If people can get sexual release in private, why bother looking for a partner? But many who ask that question do not consider the alternative. If your friend is in fact looking for a husband, her habit finding sexual fulfillment with herself rather than a spouse will most certainly prolong and frustrate her search.

Of course, don't forget that sex is only one very important thing we find in marriage. Companionship, emotional intimacy, and romance also top the list. And just as those things require two people, sex, by its very nature, demands the same.


I once met a man whose marriage was deteriorating. He told me that he travels a lot. He masturbates when he's on the road, as his wife can't travel with him because of their kids. He essentially told me that he has no choice but to masturbate since he's not made of wood and has needs that can't be ignored. "What's better," he asked me. "That I go to a prostitute? Obviously, it's better that I just watch porn in my hotel room and masturbate and not cheat on my wife.”

 

I countered that he had created a straw man. “If you denied yourself masturbation, then you'd be bursting at the seams to get home to your wife, and you would travel less, because you would find it impossible to be away from your wife so much. Your marriage would be so much better.” When he told me his job gave him no choice but to travel, I responded, “We usually have more choice than we're prepared to admit. You can push hard with your bosses to have some other guy take the odd trip for you. You can leave early in the morning and come home late at night rather than miss another night with your wife. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.”

Your friend is in the same position. She should be seeking a husband with whom to share sexual ecstasy, not a solitary orgasm. She needs to learn the beauty of a true sexual relationship, where your partner takes you to the mountaintop, but doesn't leave you stranded alone in the high places.

I recognize that all of this is easier said than done, and that we live in a lonely time where companionship is hard to come by. Still, if we deny ourselves the solitary and hollow release of sexual self-pleasure, we will make that much more of an effort to be in a relationship that is satisfying physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Shmuley

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