Sorry for launching in with such a personal question: I'm feeling feisty this Friday. I've just read a sex survey released by Superdrug which asked over 900 adults about their masturbation habits, and gave some really interesting results...
Let's start with the basics: as with all the sex 'studies' I link to here, it's mostly a PR thing, and so should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. Even the most scientific studies usually have limitations, it's just that the difference with a scientific study is they'll do their best to eliminate the possibility that the study itself is biased. With PR surveys, they're mostly just looking for some interesting headline stats to get a discussion going. And it's worked, because I learned some intriguing things about people's masturbation habits that I want to discuss here with you.
Masturbation fantasy fodder: porn, erotica, or your brain?
When I treat myself to a bit of 'alone time', my primary go-to masturbation inspiration is the fantasies inside my own head. In the survey, 12% of women said they did the same thing I do: fantasise about a stranger (or perhaps multiple strangers – there didn't seem to be an option for that one!). But plenty of us are watching porn too: porn videos were the wank-fodder of choice for 38% of women and a whopping 67% of men.
This in itself isn't particularly surprising: mainstream straight porn sites tend to cater towards men, as evidenced by the fact that most of them include ads for 'hot girls in your area' and very few for 'sexy dudes near you.' But crucially this survey also asked straight people what they thought their partner masturbated to. Men significantly overestimated how many women they thought watched porn, and women underestimated how frequently men did.
This says one important thing to me: when it comes to masturbation, we don't always let our partners in on the secret to our private pleasures.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing – after all, you don't want to have to give a written report to your other half before each wank session, laying out your intentions and getting them to sign off on it. It'd ruin the spontaneity of it, for one, and create a whole heap of incredibly unsexy paperwork. At the same time, though, understanding how your partner fantasises and the kind of things they find hot is often a great way of starting a broader conversation about the stuff you'd like to do in bed. Let's look at a good example...
Erotica as inspiration
In the survey, about 10% of men thought that their partners masturbated to erotic literature. That figure is actually slightly higher – 14% of women surveyed said it was their primary source of inspiration. Imagine if all these people could talk to their partners about the kind of erotica they liked! Sharing the scenes they find hot, maybe having a sexy reading session where they read aloud the best scene from the latest steamy story...
I'm biased, because I'm a sex writer, and I have received numerous emails from people saying that they read a particular story or blog post aloud to their partner and ended up having wild and exciting sex. But the same is true of almost any masturbation fodder: if it works for you, it might work for your partner too, and even if it's not their cup of tea the very knowledge that it turns you on might turn them on as well.
It's a good excuse to use your sex toys together too: the survey found that 40% of women and 10% of men regularly use sex toys when they're masturbating. So masturbating together – or showing each other your technique – can be a great way to learn how to wield that rabbit vibrator in just the way they like, or stroke with a Fleshlight using their preferred pace and rhythm. You may find they have a penchant for prostate massage, or an eagerness for electro stim.
If you think your partner might be up for sharing their fantasies, my best advice would be to start slowly: ask them what their turn-ons are, and whether they're happy to share some of the things they masturbate over, and offer to share some of yours in return. Go in slowly: don't just blurt out the name of your favourite porn film while you're driving to the supermarket, of course. But opening up a little about your fantasies can be a great way of starting a conversation around sex, and learning something new about your partner that you can use as sexy inspiration for your next session together.
Just make sure to avoid one particular area: in the survey, 3% of women and 2% of men said that when they're wanking they fantasise about an ex.