fbpx The Basics of Mutual Masturbation

Sex - Masturbation | September 1, 2022, 6:00 CDT

The Basics of Mutual Masturbation

Making your solo play a partnered affair can increase intimacy and teach you tips for pleasure.
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Written by

Rachel Crowe
Two arms reach across each other and pull mechanical levers.
Illustration by Jaelen Brock

Penetrative sex isn't the be-all and end-all. There's much more fun to be had. For example, perhaps your next masturbation session doesn't have to be a solo one. The more, the merrier, after all.

The appeal of mutual masturbation is many-pronged, allowing partners to release shame and guilt around masturbation, learn more about their partner and their preferences, and be vulnerable in front of their partner with no risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy, said Rachel Wright, M.A., L.M.F.T., who is based in New York City. "What's fun, though, is watching how your partner touches themselves so that you can try and do that when you're touching them."

Solo adventures can be exciting online

Mutual masturbation can represent practice for future penetration or research into your partner's preferences (perhaps ones they haven't even thought of telling you), or it can be the whole event. The act of masturbating together can also be a celebration of changing bodies for couples who are older and perhaps encountering new difficulties. Instead of finding frustration or shame in failing to orgasm in the "conventional" way, focus on the fun of getting there. In a sense, mutual masturbation is a terrific vehicle for the scenic route.

Dominatrix Emme Witt, of Los Angeles, said mutual masturbation can be emotionally potent, especially when couples are physically separated.

"Mutual masturbation can be a hot way to connect more deeply with one's partner," she said. "It's fun to look each other deeply in the eyes while both people are jacking or jilling off. Mutual masturbation can also be a great way for long-distance partners to have sex over FaceTime or Skype."

Every couple needs time together and alone, but it's worth reconsidering what activities we assume as inherently solo. Instead of stigmatizing self-love, mutual masturbation allows couples to share intimate time while acknowledging future independent sessions. Mutual masturbation may turn out to be something arousing you'll use later for solo sessions. Telling your partner about those lonesome adventures could get motors running when you're together again.

Time for your instructions

A freeform approach to mutual masturbation absolutely works, but Witt has some nitty-grittier advice.

"There is something called jack-off instructions [JOI]," she explained. "These instructions are usually given by a dominant to a submissive. I think instructions can be given in a sexy, playful way. Again, always lead respectfully without expectations. One way to do this is to say, 'I'd love to see you touch yourself X, Y or Z. Would you be OK with that?' The direction is framed as voluntary instead of as an order."

Even if you and your sexual partner aren't into BDSM, giving or receiving instructions may be a turn-on you hadn't yet considered.

Katie Schubert, Ph.D., a licensed mental health counselor and certified sex therapist in St. Petersburg, Florida, laid out the kind of conversation that would lead into a mutual masturbation session.

"Ask for exactly what you're wanting. For example, 'Tonight, I'd like to get naked and lay in bed with you. I'd like to use my vibrator on myself while you watch and masturbate yourself,'" she said. "Be transparent in asking these questions: 'How do you feel about my request for tonight?' 'Does this sexual activity turn you on?' and 'Is there something else we can be doing to help you get aroused by this?'"

Wright proposed a few positions for mutual masturbation:

  • Straddle. Think of this position as if you were riding on a saddle, straddling something between your legs. You can use a bullet vibrator or your hands for stimulation.
  • The T, or perhaps two-thirds of an H. One partner lies down on their side on the bed, while the other stands by their head. The person lying down should have a very close look at the standing person's bits, and the person standing up can see their partner's entire body. This is a fun and sexy position that can help vary your masturbation position if you're typically on your back or tummy.
  • Foot-to-head or head-to-foot. Imagine the conventional 69 position, remove the oral parts and straighten out your body. Now you should be in the foot-to-head/head-to-foot position. This position allows for a lot of staring—closely—at each other's bits while you touch yourselves. It's ideal to do on a bed but can be done on a floor. Just put down something cozy and comfy. No one wants to masturbate on cold tile or hardwood.

Just like other sexual acts, mutual masturbation is only fun if everyone is having fun. Regardless of whether you met your sexual partner last week or you've been together for years, consent is always a must. Make sure you ask your partner without pressure and never try to manipulate your partner into doing more than they want to do. A "no" for any reason is valid.

If the timing seems right, you can respectfully inquire about why your partner isn't as into the idea as you are. A partner may be self-conscious about the appearance of their genitals or body in general and simply not ready to be the concentrated focus of your attention. In this case, think about sticking to eye contact—that can be just as hot. Adjusting typical harsh lighting to softer and moodier could also be the accommodation they need.

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Written by

Rachel Crowe