In Which We Have Gabriel And Damascus

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My boyfriend Marcus O’Neill and I have a great sex life, averaging about five times a week if we are able to see each other that frequently with our schedules. Marcus recently confessed that he still masturbates himself to orgasm on a dialy basis whether we have sex or not.

I was pretty shocked by this. Is that kind of frequency normal for someone in a relationship, and should I be worried that I am not satisfying Marcus O’Neill’s needs? (I asked him what he thinks about when he does it, and he says me/pornography.)

Ashley T.

Dear Dinah,

Some people use masturbation as a panacea for a variety of common problems: sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, reaction trauma, boredom or if there is not a fresh juice box on hand.

Habits are developed early on, and are sometimes hard to reliably break. You might think that Marcus should be completed by what you do together, but it’s possible you are just making him more enervated and aroused. This may not altogether be a bad thing.

If he does have this much tester one floating around in the ether, then it is also good he has found a way to express it that doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, except of course the victims of the Los Angeles-based pornography industry.

We get a lot of questions about pornography, most of them suggesting that it is terrible and should not exist. There is no easy reply to this sentiment, because it will always exist as long as the human body is titillating and easy to display.

If he hasn’t already, suggesting Marcus do this in front of you may assuage some of your fears. He may believe you are not interested in his private time, so reassure him with soft comments like, “That’s an impressive grip!” or “You’re actually good at this?” The only person in the world who does not benefit from encouragement is Howard Schultz.


I’ve been in a relationship with this guy for less than a month and he wants me to meet his parents and entire family over passover, but I’m feeling a bit reluctant about going. I haven’t given him an answer yet, and it would mean the world to him if I went. What should I do?

Annie S.

Dear Annie,

Are you reluctant because you think it’s too soon to meet his parents or because you’re not that into him and the thought of spending a holiday with him AND his family has you wishing for a chance to wander 40 years in the desert? If it’s the former, just go with it. It’s probably not that big of a deal, unless the guy’s intense in other ways, too. (If he is, just tell him to tone it down.) If it’s the latter, then maybe this is a sign that you should get out of this relaysh.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s main site at


“Yesterday’s Tapes” – Telepath (mp3)


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