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OK to Pleasure Oneself to Thoughts of Future Spouse?


Is it wrong to masturbate, without climax, to thoughts about your hypothetical future spouse?


Masturbation is always wrong, as true conjugal love is necessarily other-centered, not inwardly focused in a selfish way, which is characteristic of lust (CCC 2351-52). So masturbation is wrong, whether one thinks of his real wife, his fiancée, or his “hypothetical wife.” In each case, a person would be making a woman into an object of selfish satisfaction, not valuing her as a whole person. And that would be the case even if a man doesn’t complete the act. The immorality of masturbation is not contingent on whether one sexually completes the act.

In contrast, there’s nothing wrong with a husband’s anticipating being conjugally intimate with his wife later in the day, provided there is no masturbation or lustful thoughts otherwise (see Matt. 5:27-28). In addition, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being attracted to a woman. One can recognize a woman’s beauty without lusting after her. However, if the woman is not your wife or fiancée, don’t dwell on that attraction. It’s a moral dead end. For more on this subject, see this related answer.

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