Masturbation is typically a taboo subject and an activity that's restricted to total privacy, says Ashley D. Sweet, M.A., LPC, LMHC, CCRC. Because of that, it can be thrilling to "share with someone else something you may have learned is culturally forbidden."
No matter why you decide to explore this activity, here's what you need to know about it before you welcome others to your party.
What is mutual masturbation?
Mutual masturbation has two variations, says Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST: The first is when two or more people masturbate in each other's presence. Conversely, two or more people can simultaneously stimulate each other's genitals.
So, like solo masturbation but with more people and variations? Exactly.
Whether you use toys, hands, or both to enjoy either kind of partnered masturbation, Herzog tells mbg this sexual experience is "great for anyone who's open to genital stimulation." Plus, she says it can be a fun activity to add to your sexual repertoire.
Because you can enjoy mutual masturbation without touching or being touched, Courtney Geter, LMFT-S, CST, says long-distance partners can engage in masturbation together via phone or video call. And when partners are in the same location, they can mutually masturbate as a way to explore a new type of sexual play together (or to get sexy while social distancing).
The benefits of masturbating with a partner:
Exploring sex outside of penetration.
Outercourse like mutual masturbation is a great option when intercourse or penis-in-vagina sex isn't an option—after all, there are tons of ways to pleasure yourself and your partner without it. "For partners who may not be ready, interested, or able to engage in penetration, mutual masturbation is a pleasurable and connected sexual experience that can be fulfilling for all involved," says Herzog.
It's simple: Orgasms cause your brain to release a surge of endorphins, which make you feel good. There are so many benefits of masturbation, so when you mutually masturbate, Geter says it can "allow for sexual expression or pleasure and can improve moods just like other sexual behaviors or interactions."
Zero risk of STI transmission.
According to Herzog, mutual or group masturbation is "an incredibly safe sexual practice that provides a ton of opportunity for pleasure and exploration." Because partners usually don't make physical contact with each other during mutual masturbation, there is no risk of transmitting or receiving any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even with partner-assisted masturbation, the risk of transmission is significantly reduced.
Plus, Geter points out that for people who experience pain with penetration, masturbation can be helpful. Why? Because it provides an alternative (but still pleasurable!) way to enjoy sexual play, bonding with a partner, and other sexual behaviors without experiencing discomfort.
Mutual masturbation can be an "all-encompassing sensory experience," says Herzog—one that increases your pleasure as you watch your partner enthusiastically or passionately touch themselves. You also "get to hear them groan and moan, which is pretty hot all on its own, especially if auditory experiences turn you on."
Learning how to pleasure the other person.
When partners watch each other masturbate, it's a great way to see what the other likes physically. "You get to show your partner what feels amazing for your body" and vice versa, explains Herzog. And beyond being an instructional experience that lets you and your partner show better ways to give each other more pleasure, Sweet says mutual masturbation "can be very intimate and bonding to show your partner(s) how you climax when you're alone."
Penetrative or other kinds of sex don't always lead to an orgasm for one or all partners, but Sweet says mutual masturbation has better odds: "For [those] who can't orgasm with a partner performing sex acts with them, mutual masturbation gives the opportunity for increasing pleasure and even guaranteeing orgasm!"
Many people have their best orgasms when they do it themselves, she adds, and sharing "a powerful self-produced orgasm can be a really fun and hot experience."
A pleasurable compromise when partners' libidos aren't in sync.
Sex drives can be hard to match up, so there will likely come a time when your partner wants to get hot and heavy but you want to keep it cool and light in your PJs. In those instances, Geter says mutual masturbation is a sexy but comfortable activity to engage in when one partner is aroused and needs sexual release while the other isn't in the mood. Consider it a pleasurable compromise.
Couples can enjoy mutual masturbation as foreplay or the main act, and you can always add sex toys to the mix for heightened pleasure. And unlike most forms of sex, there are fewer restrictions.
Positions, methods, and tips.
Herzog says mutual masturbation can look different for everyone depending on their abilities, comfort level, and openness to masturbatory touch. That means many positions are possible through this activity, so try out a few to see what works best for you and your partner.
Here are a few tips and places to start:
1. Communicate openly.
Your partner and you may want to approach this experience differently, but that doesn't limit the pleasure you can bring each other. All you have to do is talk about it openly.
Herzog says sexual communication is the foundation for a pleasure-centered and fulfilling sex life, "So, simply asking your partner if they're interested in mutually masturbating is a great way to start."
Sometimes, that may be easier said than done. According to Sweet, talking about sexual desire is the hardest part for a lot of couples. To remedy this, she says to choose a way to bring it up that fits the context of your relationship, whether it's over dessert, via text, or by sending your partner an article like this one.
If you need a starting point, use Herzog's prompts:
- I'm curious about mutually masturbating together. Would you like to try it with me?
- I want to switch things up a bit and thought masturbating together might be a fun way for us to do that. Are you interested?
- I feel like masturbating together could be a really hot way for us to connect. Are you open to talking more about this to see if it fits us?
You can also try taking a sexual interest survey such as We Should Try It.
"There's no one right way to bring up conversations about exploring sex or masturbation," says Sweet, so her advice is to make it playful and light. "And above all else, don't 'yuck' your partner's 'yum!'"
2. Set the scene.
"Like any other sex act, lighting, sound, smell, taste, and touch are all components of the experience," explains Sweet. To set the scene for mutual masturbation, she recommends playing music, burning a candle or setting dim lighting during or before, or both.
3. Make eye contact.
Another idea is to maintain eye contact to increase intimacy and heat things up even more. Sweet says, "Folks may want to look at one another during the masturbation session or gaze at the same mirror so they can see themselves and their partner(s)."
4. Include accessories and sex toys.
Like you do when you're by yourself, using your hands is a great go-to for mutual masturbation. But Sweet says you can also spice it up and incorporate pillows, sex toys, blankets, lube, and more into your practice. Use "anything that helps you stimulate your body for arousal and potential orgasms," she advises.
However, Geter reminds that you can explore this sex activity in whatever way feels comfortable and accessible for you and your partner—if that means no toys and touching, more power to your pleasure.
If you are curious about which toys and accessories to include, here are a few to consider besides vibrators:
- Butt plug or prostate massager
- Suction-based clitoral stimulator
- Massage oils
- Cock rings
- Nipple clamps
- Remote-controlled vibrators (perfect sex toys for long-distance couples!)
- Vibrating panties
- Plastic handcuffs
- Silicone-based lube
5. Lie or sit next to each other.
"A common way to practice mutual masturbation is for partners to be lying or sitting very close to each other while stimulating their genitals," which Herzog says you can do in a spooning position, simply lying down together closely or sitting up and facing each other for added intimacy.
You can also try Geter's recommendation: One partner sits while the other lies down as you both stroke and caress your own or their genitalia.
6. Try the ol' sixty-nine.
Remember, there are many positions you can try to please yourself and your partner. The classic "69" can work great during mutual masturbation: Here, Geter says one partner lies on their back and the other lies on top facing the opposite direction. "This allows each partner to access each other's genital areas and stimulate at the same time." You can also take turns and pleasure each other one at a time.
7. Try straddling.
Instead of sitting over your partner's pelvis like a typical straddle, Herzog says you can sit a little higher up on their stomach or chest, which gives you the opportunity to stimulate yourself and them the ability to reach their genitals. In this position, she says you can easily stimulate each other. "It also gives the partner lying down a really great view of you pleasuring yourself."
For long-distance & virtual sex.
Virtual sex isn't only for long-distance couples, so all partners are welcome to try mutual masturbation via phone, video, or text. But whatever the reason you try this experience in the digital space, Sweet says to "be mindful about privacy considerations and who may have access to any digital content you co-create." Before you try this, she recommends a strong and private internet connection to prevent freeze frames or call disruptions.
You can maximize everyone's pleasure during virtual mutual masturbation with a trusted partner (or partners) with these tips:
- Use eye contact to connect. If you can manage to gaze at each other as you orgasm, even better!
- Move your body sensually and in ways that flow with your pleasure.
- Sweet says heavy breathing and vocalizing pleasure "can be really hot for people, especially in a virtual or phone context."
- Don't just focus on the genitals. "Sex is a full-body experience," reminds Herzog, so "practicing slow, sensual touch all around your body will wake up your nerves and heighten your sexual experience."
- If you want to build up to mutual masturbation, consensually send saucy texts that allude to your upcoming sexual playtime. (Here's our full sexting guide for inspo.)
- Place your genitals directly over the camera to give your partner a full view of you pleasuring yourself.
- "Communicate!" says Herzog. You can try to talk dirty or provide instruction to each other about what you want the other to do with their body.
- If you plan this prior to being away from your partner, Sweet says to take something of theirs, like clothing, perfume, or a sentimental item that can enable the feeling of them being there with you.
Just because you can't physically be with your partner doesn't mean this sexual experience will lack pleasure, Herzog reminds us. "This is an opportunity to cultivate excitement and pleasure between you and your virtual partner," she says. Take advantage and get creative.
While the risks of mutual masturbation are relatively low, it's not 100% safe. Less serious risks to masturbating, in general, include accidental tears or cuts in the vagina or anus, so Herzog advises you to ensure your nails are cleaned and trimmed beforehand. "The friction of rubbing could cause discomfort or sores if body areas aren't lubricated," Geter adds, so don't be afraid to incorporate some lube if needed.
On a larger scale, if you and your partner(s) share bodily fluids, it's possible to transmit infections and diseases. To avoid this, Sweet says to practice safer sex, get tested for STIs regularly, and practice barrier methods with new partners. Additionally, Herzog says to "make sure not to share sex toys if you integrate them into your sexual play" to protect yourself and others from STIs, unless you and your partner(s) are fluid bonding.
Another major risk to keep in mind is limited privacy. "Just like with any other sex act, if you take your mutual masturbation into the digital realm," says Sweet, "you risk it being leaked to the world, both deliberately and by accident!"
The bottom line.
Here's the consensus: Masturbation, whether solo or mutual, is great for anyone. Mutual masturbation is an incredibly intimate activity that lets you connect with your partner in a new way. "I truly believe mutual masturbation can benefit anyone who is open and consenting to the experience," shares Herzog.
However, "it's up to the individuals to create a safe space for exploring this space," says Sweet, and consent is a huge part of that. "It's important that consent is enthusiastically established and that all parties know they can revoke their consent at any time."