What is mutual masturbation and what are its benefits?  Mutual masturbation is an expression of intimacy that can build upon basic sexual connections. By definition, mutual masturbation is when couples masturbate themselves while in the presence of their partner. It is a way for partners to see how others pleasure themselves while simultaneously showing how they like to pleasure themselves. Couples can benefit from mutual masturbation through a sense of trust and bonding.

Why experiment with mutual masturbation? There are many reasons why a couple may want to experiment with mutual masturbation as a method of sexual connection. Below you’ll find a list of potential scenarios in which mutual masturbation may benefit a couple:

  • Penetrative sex may be painful as a result of vaginismus, trauma, or other pelvic pain. 
  • Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction may struggle with performance anxiety associated with penetrative or oral sex. 
  • Some folks may feel ashamed about their body and have difficulty feeling comfortable during interactive sexual activities with their partners. 
  • Some individuals know how to pleasure themselves and/or achieve an orgasm but may struggle with finding a sense of pleasure during partnered sex. 
  • The pressure to orgasm during partnered sex may be overwhelming to some and can cause tension or anxiety that may interfere with the orgasmic process.
  • Some couples may struggle with finding time for partnered sex due to work, childcare, or other duties. 

Issues like these can lead to a sense of shame and disappointment about an individual's own body and could even lead to conflict in a relationship outside of the bedroom. Mutual masturbation can be a way to cut through some of these struggles and create a safe foundation for couples to explore more interactive approaches to sex. 

Experimenting with mutual masturbation can be a vulnerable act. When we masturbate, it is a personal experience. It’s a time when we connect with our bodies without fear of judgement from others. Thus, introducing someone to your masturbation can seem daunting. Below you’ll find some “I-statements” to facilitate a discussion about your potential fears of experimenting with mutual masturbation with your partner. Try to be as open as possible and listen to your partner’s fears. This is a time for you and your partner to create a space in which you can fully explore and experience self-love together. 

  • I want to try mutual masturbation because I think it will ____.
  • I would like to try mutual masturbation if we can incorporate ____.
  • I feel ____ about trying mutual masturbation because ____.
  • I think that mutual masturbation will help our relationship by ____.
  • I’m excited about learning ____ as part of mutual masturbation.
  • I’m concerned about trying mutual masturbation because ____.
  • I would feel better about trying mutual masturbation if we ____.
  • If I’m feeling uncomfortable or would like to stop, I would like to do ____ at the end of the session. 

How to mutually masturbate.

The set up. To get the most out of this exercise, try to set up a good time for you and your partner in which you will have little distractions. Turn your phones off. Make sure you have completed enough work to keep your mind off of it for the next hour or so. Turn off the TV or any other screens. This will help you focus on the task at hand without having other thoughts on your mind. If you’d like, you can set the mood by lighting candles, playing music, or dimming the lights. Additionally, you and your partner will want to discuss a way to politely end the masturbation session if you’re feeling overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or just want to end the session early. Discuss with your partner what this will look like and how you would like to signal to each other that they would like to end the session. Perhaps use a safe word such as “pineapple” or “red” to signal to your partner in a loving way that you do not want to go on. By discussing this beforehand you and your partner can be prepared. Another way to anticipate potential issues is to set a timer for this activity. During your first session, you may want to set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Once the timer is up, you can end the activity and go directly into discussing what it was like. This could take pressure off of orgasming and can help those who may take longer to orgasm. As you explore mutual masturbation more you may want to increase to 10-15 minutes. 

Prepare. Prepare any items you typically use while masturbating solo. Get your lube and/or penis sleeve. Grab your vibrator, dildo, or anal plug. If you need any items for clean up, like a towel or tissue, bring them along as well. These items aren’t required but if you typically masturbate with these items, feel free to bring them into the play! Discuss with your partner if you’d like to bring porn into the setting. If so, what type of porn would you like to bring in? For those feeling anxious, porn can be a way to disperse intensity in the room and create a distraction from any anxious/nervous feelings. 

Take a moment. Take a moment to recognize this is an experience in which you are pleasuring yourself in the presence of another. Your partner may look at you or what you’re doing to yourself. Try to think of this as not a judgement but a way to see, experience, learn, and honor the pleasure you’re feeling while in the company of them. In the same way, this is a way for you to get curious about your partner’s pleasure. 

Find a comfortable position. The best thing about mutual masturbation is that you and your partner don’t have to be touching or in the same position. You can explore mutual masturbation while you lay down and your partner stands up. While you’re on your back and your partner is laying on their front. Whatever position you and your partner take, try to maneuver yourselves so that you’re facing one another if you’re feeling comfortable. Perhaps during your first session you could lay down next to each other to release some of that visual tension. 

A quick note: for those who feel uncomfortable showing your body to your partner at first, get under the covers or keep clothing items on that make you feel more comfortable. This process is an exploration and can be taken in steps to help you feel more comfortable with your partner.

Begin to pleasure yourself. It may feel awkward to masturbate in front of your partner for the first time or with this particular intention. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, but would like to continue, close your eyes and focus on your own pleasure. Notice the physical sensations as you touch your body. 

  • Can you feel your breath begin to quicken? 
  • Are you tensing parts of your body? 
  • Do you feel flush or sweat begin to bead up on your body?
  • What are you thinking about that gets you aroused?
  • If you’re watching porn, what aspects of the video arouse you the most?

Notice your partner. If you feel comfortable, begin to be curious about your partner’s pleasure experience. Try to notice the way their body moves as they use different techniques to explore and pleasure their own bodies. 

  • Do they tense up when they touch a particular body part? 
  • What type of techniques do they use?
  • What types of noises are they making when they touch themselves?
  • If you’re watching porn, do you notice them becoming more aroused during certain points in the video?

Notice how your partner’s pleasure is affecting you. Mutual masturbation is a connective experience. By noticing how your partner’s pleasure is affecting you, you’re transforming the solo experience into a coupled experience. Try mirroring your partner’s movements. Speed up when they speed up and slow down when they slow down. 

  • When your partner does ____ how does it make you feel?
  • As I mirror my partner I feel ____.
  • I feel aroused when my partner ____.
  • I find it sexy when my partner ____. 

If things aren’t working for you. It’s okay. Mutual masturbation is a very intimate experience and can take time to get comfortable. Thank your body and mind for expressing itself and being vulnerable enough to try this new experience. End the session with your partner the way you discussed before the session. Then talk with your partner about the experience. It’s important that in these vulnerable moments we keep an open line of communication between partners so as to avoid any potential emotional injuries. 

Try not to focus on achieving an orgasm at first. The first time experimenting with mutual masturbation, try to enjoy the pleasurable experience and not focus on orgasming. You and your partner have the opportunity to enjoy and experience each other’s pleasure- so enjoy it! As mentioned in the set up section, you may want to limit the amount of time spent on this activity at first. For some, starting off this activity for 5-10 minutes can decrease the pressure to orgasm.

Reflection. Once you and your partner have completed the exercise, this will be a good time for you to discuss how the experience was like for you. You can do this while cuddling, grabbing a drink of water, or cleaning up whatever mess you may have made! Below you'll find some example discussion lines to start your conversation about the experience of mutual masturbation.

  • I was surprised to learn ____.
  • It was really sexy when ____.
  • I did not like when ____ happened.
  • I’m excited to try it again if we could ____ next time.
  • I thought it was fun when ____.
  • It was erotic for me to see you ____.

Final consideration. To feel slightly uncomfortable during the first couple of times is normal. It is completely understandable if you’re feeling violated or distressed about mutual masturbation and want to stop. Mutual masturbation can be a vulnerable, fun, and intimate moment with a partner. We are presenting a part of our body and mind that has not always been seen by others which can be scary... and fun! It can be rewarding to invite a person into our personal pleasure and it can be uncomfortable at the same time.