12/11/2013 05:25 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2014

Can Self-Loving End Your Love Life?

Believe it or not, I've been asked many times if self-loving is cheating and about its potential negative impact on relationships and each time I think, "Seriously?" The question usually comes from women concerned about their boyfriends or husbands.

So, the short answer. No, masturbation is not cheating. It is merely the sexual stimulation of one's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. He, by the way, won't go blind, break out in acne, or grow hair on his palms. While many view masturbation as a perfectly healthy, normal act, others disagree. Usually due to strict religious views where feelings of guilt and shame are far more powerful than any momentary pleasure. In that case, guilt-ridden orgasms certainly aren't healthy.

There are many reasons a person masturbates. Some of the benefits, besides it being "sex with someone you love," as Woody Allen suggested, are to: relieve stress, induce sleep, strengthen muscle tone in the genital area, and it helps you become more aware of your sexual likes and dislikes, and quite simply, it's a safe, efficient sexual outlet where one can fantasize. Further, mutual masturbation, the act by which two people stimulate themselves by watching their partner masturbate in the presence of each other, allows a couple to understand the other person's hot spots and exactly how he or she likes to be touched.

The apparent rift that a partner's hand can cause in a relationship is certainly worth exploring. So, to all the females who wonder about their boyfriend's or husband's self-loving, here's my take:

To believe that masturbation is cheating, frankly, is ludicrous. For the record, he's not cheating, but rather participating in a self-contained pleasure-inducing activity; one that he knew long before meeting you. Personalizing his masturbation and seeing it as rejection paints him as a bad guy and doesn't lead to a healthy exploration of the role you play in improving the relationship. Sure, your sex life may have declined as a result of his masturbation; however, consider this possibility: in his mind the quality of sex may be lacking and that is leading to his increased masturbation. Have an open and frank discussion with your man and take a look at your respective drives, the quality and excitement, and frequency of sex. Tweaking these areas may improve compatibility and make him less reliant on self-stimulation. If though his masturbation is used in place of good healthy sex with you, that speaks to other issues and he need to learn to curb his activities and have more fun with you. Finally, view masturbation as your friend rather than foe and open your mind to the benefits outlined above, which could enhance your sex life. You might even find mutual masturbation to be both satisfying and an additional way to connect with him.

For more tips on healthy relationships, sex, and fearless living check out my new book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.