Updated: Jul 29
You could call turning them on without touching them 'magic'. Or you could call it mutual masturbation!
With all the taboo around solo sex or masturbation, could you imagine turning the act into a team activity? That’s exactly what mutual masturbation is all about -- two, or more, people engaging in self-pleasure at the same time and usually in the same place. It can also include a mutual exchange of pleasure in which the people involved are stimulating one another. For some people, masturbation is something done sneakily, while in a rush, and alone. For others, the idea of touching themselves at all can feel somewhat intimidating. Yet for others, masturbation is a sex act like any other and the idea of doing so with an audience is all the more enticing. So why haven't you, yet?
In a culture that prioritizes the penis and penetrative sex, opportunities for exploring our body’s other sensations and pleasures through any type of masturbation is mocked or minimized as being a last resort or not worth attention. But many other body parts can be stimulated and enjoy our attention, exploration, and touch.
Regardless of your relationship status or sexual partners, the benefits of masturbating, outside of physical pleasure and potential for orgasm, are plentiful:
Improves body and self-esteem.
Helps with relaxation and de-stressing.
Enhances sleep quality.
Boosts your mood.
Heightens awareness of what pleases you.
Releases sexual tension.
There’s no concern of STI’s or pregnancy.
Increases heart rate and improves blood circulation.
There are many ways to enhance your solo sex practice, but if you really want to maximize the benefits of masturbation, think about adding partners to the experience! Let's explore a few more reasons to add mutual masturbation to your sex life.
When intercourse is not an option
If penetration is not possible, either due to painful intercourse, being in a long-distance relationship, lack of interest/preference, having to stay 6-feet apart, or just not being in the mood for it, mutual masturbation could be another way to sexually connect and explore with your partner. Sex is not defined or experienced in only way and again, penis and penetration are not the golden tickets to pleasure and orgasm. Bodies will not always perform the way we would like, so I always encourage people to expand and explore their definition of sex and practices as a sexual being.
A pleasurable experience is almost always guaranteed
Typically we know our body the best, and when pleasure is in our own hands, an orgasm is too. You also have the opportunity to let the other person know what feels good to you, you’ll be able to see what feels good to them, and if everyone agrees, you can use that knowledge to touch one another. Many people feel really turned on as their partner takes charge in their orgasm, so be prepared if you find that your hands become even more eager to explore your own body, or theirs. While you’re watching your partner, you might notice the way they rub their nipples, bite their lips, smack their own ass, so can use that information the next time you are engaging in partnered sex for a more pleasurable experience for them. Remember to wash your hands before any hand-sex action, use condoms on toys, and wash the toys before sharing. So you see, mutual masturbation increases the likelihood that everyone will cum.
It’s a safer form of sex
When engaging in solo sex or mutual solo sex, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy and risk of STI transmission is fairly low, so long as toys or bodily fluids are not being exchange. This fact can increase your peace of mind and allow you to experience deeper pleasure. Talking about sexual history and STI status with potential partners is still an important conversation to have. There is still a chance of transmitting skin-to-skin viruses or other infections if fluids are transferred so be sure to use condoms or dental dams if that is something that concerns you.
Bring sex toys into play
Using sex toys during partnered sex can feel awkward or intimidating for some people. Unfortunately, there's a belief that using a sex toy, or even masturbating in general, is an activity that lonely singles engage in. The term B.O.B. (battery operated boyfriend) gives some insight to how problematic it may seem to have sex toys. Using toys are far from being problematic and the use of them or any pleasure enhancer is about creating a different sexual experience that can help with intimacy and sexual exploration. So it can be a great way to introduce self-pleasure into couple's play and show your partner(s) what makes you feel good. Even better, they get to see you make yourself feel good. Who doesn't want to see their partner full of erotic and orgasmic energy?! Think about how playful and fun the experience could be. They are called toys, after all.
Starting the Conversation
Bringing up your interest in mutual masturbation can be as intimidating as actually doing it. I've worked with individuals and couples who felt insecure at the thought, as if their partner were calling them sexually inadequate, or promptly dismissed the suggestion. Whether I like it or not, masturbation is still a taboo topic for many, and some people feel the need to hide or critique the fact that they still engage in self-pleasure while in a relationship. So, if you aren't sure of your partners' personal beliefs and relationship with solo sex, try leading with curiosity. Open up conversation to talk about masturbation and learn one another's experiences and thoughts first. Here are more tips about communicating about sex with your partner that will be helpful!
Rafaella Smith-Fiallo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owns Healing Exchange LLC. She specializes in supporting healing after sexual violence, building self-esteem and confidence, and teaching healthy sexuality to individuals, those in relationships, and within supportive group settings. She also cofounded Afrosexology, a sex-positive, pleasure based sexuality education platform.