You masturbate. Your partner masturbates. Both are sexy separately, but together? That can be hot, too. While mutual masturbation can look different in every relationship, it simply means your partner is included in your solo play sesh in some way (think: touching yourself as your partner touches themselves, or taking turns watching each other).
“Mutual masturbation can be done independently alongside partners, and doesn’t always have to involve reciprocity,” says queer sex therapist Veronica N. Chin Hing-Michaluk.“[It’s] the journey of exploring body senses, feelings, and social connectedness with partners to experience pleasure together,” she adds.
Whether you’re at a hookup’s digs IRL or calling your long-distance S.O. on video, it’s fun to switch things up in the ~metaphorical~ bedroom. Rather than going for penetration every. single. time., a little solo play is a sexy way to learn about your body and even discover a new stroke or erogenous zone. Maybe you mutually masturbate when you’re turned on but are too tired for a full sesh, or you want to dip your toes into bringing a fantasy or kink to life. Besides, who doesn’t love a self-made orgasm?!
And while there’s no right or wrong way to touch yourself, masturbating in front of a partner is a vulnerable thing. You might feel a bit hesitant being on display, as if you have to put on a show. (Reminder: You’re the expert of your own body). But there’s also a power in owning your sexuality and showing a partner just how the damn thing is done, firing up their imagination in the process. That feels so good—in more ways than one.
Want to give partnered solo play a spin? We put together a primer for mutual masturbation so you can skip the cringe factor and go straight to the hot-as-hell phase.
Why is mutual masturbation worth trying anyways?
Solo play is one of the best ways to connect with your own body and find what feels good (BTW, it’s a total stress reliever. You’re welcome). And when you invite your partner in? “It can be a shared form of self-exploration and self-care,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says. “Mutual masturbation provides space for you to be seen in a very intimate way.”
When you let a partner watch an act so personal, it lets you emotionally connect in a whole new way. It’s the hottest form of sex ed, too. Adding solo play to your rotation can help clue your partner into the spots that ramp up pleasure the next time you actually touch, and vice versa. Plus, mutual masturbation is social distance-friendly: a major win.
Bring it up in a casual convo with your partner.
Before you dive in, it’s time to run the idea past your partner. “As with any erotic experience that sparks curiosity, I encourage starting with a conversation,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says. This way, you can both be open and honest about what you want and need from the experience—or if it’s even something you both want to try.
What would mutual masturbation look for you? Would it bring you two closer together? For example, a long-distance couple might look to partnered solo play as a way to build emotional intimacy, whereas a couple with different libido levels could be looking for ways to ensure each partner experiences pleasure.
Still don’t know how to bring it up? Chin Hing-Michaluk suggests things like erotic card decks, ethical porn, or virtual kink and sex workshops as great convo starters. Once you’ve chatted about it, it’s time to take mutual masturbation in your own hands.
Take time to set the scene.
Once you’ve agreed on the major elements of mutual masturbation, think about your environment, says sexologist Ava Cadell, Ph.D. To have that full-bodied experience, create a space that plays to all of your senses: incorporating things like soft mood lighting, vanilla and sandalwood scented candles, a sexy playlist (just riffing here). “Make sure you are in a comfortable and safe place where you can both relax, whether it’s a bed, sofa, bathtub, or on the floor in front of a fireplace,” Cadell says.
Before you start stripping, take a moment to breathe and look into each other’s eyes to connect to the moment and each other, says Cadell. While there, why not tell your partner what exactly you like about what you see?
Get experimental with your positions.
Explore what you’re in the mood for at that particular moment, like extra cuddles, anal stimulation, or deep eye contact, says Chin Hing-Michaluk. Do you want to sit closely, across the bed, or opposite sides of the room for the ultimate tease? Are you feeling a knees-bent or legs-splayed-out-straight position? Is one partner going to give instructions to the other, or are you both just in observation mode?
Exploring more parts of your body than you normally would will make the visuals more erotic for your partner—and can feel equally amazing for you, too. You might also switch up your positions, so your partner can get a glimpse from a different angle. Lay side-by-side facing one another, and then shift to sitting on your partner’s chest, for example. The key? Finding a position that feels bomb for you, but that also gives you a good view of your partner.
Be ready to laugh it off.
When you’re getting up all into it, note what you’re loving or what you want next. And if there’s a cringey moment, who cares?
“Laughter and breathing can be your friend as you learn each other’s and your own bodies,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says. If you feel an insecurity bubbling up, don’t be afraid to name that in the moment, so you can work through it together (another great way to strengthen your connection!).
Definitely bring sex toys into the mix.
“As you become familiar with your own pleasure pathways, introducing sex toys can seriously deepen the intimate pleasure of mutual masturbation,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says. Look to sex-pos stores like Babeland and Pleasure Chest to pick the right toys and lubricants to add to your mutual masturbation toy box, she says.
Although there’s always a risk of STIs in any kind of partnered sexual activity, mutual masturbation keeps it low. But, don’t forget to clean your toys straight out of the box and after you use ‘em, and avoid sharing toys with a partner unless you switch out a condom that’s covering it.
Trying video chat sex for the first time? Just take some precautions beforehand.
As the pandemic, LDRs, and video chats change how we have sex, spicing it up with virtual mutual masturbation is a great way to connect when IRL is off-limits.
There are a ton of positions you can try, whether you face your booty towards the camera or opt for a close up of your lower body and legs. If you’re a video sex newbie, kneeling in front of the camera (prop it up higher than your body for that extra flattering angle) with your full body in view is a great way to start, sex educator and author Gigi Engle previously told WH. Don’t forget the power of imagination, either—keeping the camera on your face can be hot, too.
And just like you prep your tech before Zoom presentations at work, make sure the audio is on, devices are charged up, and notifications are turned off ahead of the steamy sesh. Getting hit with the buffer just as the orgasm is happening would be a major buzzkill.
Of course, before you take your sex life to the internet, have a talk with your (trusted!) partner in direct terms about consent, not just about the masturbation itself, but also about recording or storing the images and videos.
Above all, find what feels good for you.
Mutual masturbation is about you, at the end of the day. “I want to warmly encourage folks to hold compassion for themselves and the partners in their lives,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says. Your online or in-person sesh doesn’t have to look a certain way, and doesn’t have to culminate in an orgasm: It’s about what you explore along the way. “Be gentle and patient with yourself, find what feels pleasurable for you, and enjoy exploration with partners,” says Chin Hing-Michaluk.
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