We have just had a baby, and now my boyfriend masturbates all the time.

My boyfriend masturbates all the time. His Instagram consists of ladies like Kate Sarkissian and literally any other lady. He tells me he doesn’t masturbate as much as he used to but I know he masturbates almost EVERY time he goes to the bathroom.

We just had a baby 2 months ago and so my already hurt self-esteem has been damaged even more. My stomach is flabby and has stretch marks, I have stretch marks on my upper inner thighs. So I feel even more unattractive and it doesn’t help that he knows how I feel but continues to masturbate.

I told him and we’ve talked about it but I genuinely think he just doesn’t care. I could tell him I feel unattractive or ugly and he’ll tell me I’m not then go to the bathroom to look at more attractive ladies.

What do I do?

Yours,

Hannah


Hi Hannah,

First, huge congratulations on the birth of your new baby!! That’s wonderful.

I think there are two issues here. One is what is up with your boyfriend and his behavior, but separately, how that is affecting you, which is something you have more direct control over. You do not have to feel hurt and crushed because of his behavior.

I think you should be keenly aware of the fact that you just had a baby and that feeling particularly in need of reassurance and help on many fronts is totally normal. You and your boyfriend are both navigating a beautiful time, but one that is also complicated and highly stressful, with lots of emotions and new concerns (and fears and insecurities) and physical factors like exhaustion, to boot. Sex and intimacy, as two individual issues can both feel very fraught.

So, two approaches. I’m not sure if your boyfriend is interested in looking a little more at his behavior or not. He may find some reading interesting, or maybe he’d be interested in listening to or watching one of our podcasts. For you, I think you can strengthen yourself separately from what he does or doesn’t do. It is nice when our partners can reassure us the way we want them to, but we also don’t have to crumble if they don’t, or can’t.

Look for a minute at the idea that you’re ugly or unattractive. That’s such a limited view of human beauty and when you’ve just given birth! Your body is wondrous and amazing! Look what it just did, producing a whole new human person!!! And it will take some time for it to recover from the process of childbirth. But it will.

Question, too, your assumption that your boyfriend’s masturbation issues are tied in any way to you or any inadequacy on your part. People fall into addictive habits, in spite of the many wonderful people and relationships in their lives. Sometimes these things go back a ways, and from skewed belief systems early in life, they turn into poor coping skills people drag around with them. He may not view it as compulsive. I’m not sure if this is something that’s always existed as a sore point in the relationship, or if it arose in conjunction with the pregnancy. Both partners often have a lot of beliefs about what is and isn’t appropriate during pregnancy and just after childbirth, and they may not match up at all.

It’s highly doubtful that your partner is doing this specifically to hurt you. He may not be sure what to do right now. He may feel under attack or conflicted or embarrassed or … he may even be thinking that he is doing you a favor by not placing demands on you right now or being respectful by going into the bathroom. Consider the differences between intimacy and sex and even masturbation. Do you otherwise feel secure in your relationship with your boyfriend? Is he generally attentive, helpful, etc.?

Either or both of you might find working with a counselor or a structured program such as the Life Process Program, where we view these things through the lens of helping people with unhelpful addictive behaviors, helpful in exploring the issues and dynamics here a little further.

Stanton

 

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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