Mutual Masturbation Is the Ultimate Form of Self-Care—Here's How

Plus, sex experts weigh in on the practice.

couple in bed

Getty Images / Beatriz Vera / EyeEm

Valentine's Day is creeping up. It's an entire day dedicated to showing someone we care about them in tangible, measurable ways (i.e. gifts). However, if you're like me, physical touch is equally appealing. But how do we bring something exciting and new into our sex lives when the weight of our daily lives is pushing us into routines that don’t feed our itch for intimate exploration? 

Enter: Mutual masturbation. It's not necessarily the solution we’ve all been waiting for (or expecting), but something worth giving a try if you haven’t already. Especially considering that 80% of people in the U.S. consider masturbation a form of self-care. What started as a sex writer's personal experiment turned into a sexual activity my partner and I enjoyed so much we decided to include it in our usual repertoire.

Ahead, I share my honest thoughts on how mutual masturbation has expanded my sexual interests. Plus, licensed sex, marriage, and family therapist (LMFT) Kamil Lewis and intimacy and relationship expert and author of Uncompromising Intimacy Alexandra Stockwell share their expert thoughts on the topic. Spoiler: Their professional opinions confirm all of the feels I have when I practice mutual masturbation. 

What Is Mutual Masturbation?

Mutual masturbation is masturbating with more than just yourself. It’s one of the ways we're able to reimagine solo-play. That said, it doesn’t always have to happen in-person. Mutual masturbation can also occur via video or phone. Whether we’re touching ourselves or our partners, the "mutual" in mutual masturbation is about having another person participate.

"Mutual masturbation allows you to feel closer to your partner, and you also get an opportunity to show them what feels good to you," Lewis says."Mutual masturbation allows you to demonstrate how you like to be touched, and what brings you pleasure, without having to express it verbally." Yes, to all of this and more.

Mutual masturbation allows you to feel closer to your partner, and you also get an opportunity to show them what feels good to you.

How It Expands My Sexual Interests

"In the space that’s created between feeling aroused and touching one another, you might find yourself more curious and potentially exploratory, which can be exciting," Lewis says. 

Watching my partner was not something I expected to accelerate my sex drive or intrigue me. But it does. I still have other personal turn-ons, but this was a new and pleasant addition. Throughout the day, I’m more aware of the seemingly ordinary things my partner does that excite me.

How It Challenges My Senses

"We may rely on touch, or a specific kind of touch, to make us feel good," Lewis explains. "While touching our partner may be reliable, it’s also predictable." I enjoy my sex life very much. But sometimes, you become familiar with everything that's about to happen because everything you do involves touch—and touching all the same places. It was nice to engage my other senses; listening, feeling, and appreciating them.

It Increases My Awareness of My Partner’s Vulnerability

We're either in our heads or focused on our partner’s pleasure during sex. Sometimes we'll make space for ourselves and enjoy the moment. But what I experienced was a sweet middle. One that allowed me to experience pleasure for myself and take in how vulnerable my partner was. "When masturbating in the same room as another person and watching them, we access some objectivity that is uniquely blended with the subjectivity of our own experience," Stockwell says. We weren’t finding comfort in our intertwined bodies. We were watching each other experience pleasure in a way that had nothing to do with us—not directly, anyway.

I could sense how much of himself he was putting out there to explore this with me. And I appreciate that vulnerability, every moment of it.

On a scale of one to ten, my partner is a solid six when it comes to experimenting with new sexual activities. The first time we gave mutual masturbation a whirl was the most eye-opening for me. I could sense how much of himself he was putting out there to explore this with me. And I appreciate that vulnerability, every moment of it. "Because we think of masturbation as a solo activity, there may be some shame associated with our masturbation practice," Lewis adds. "It’s totally natural to feel vulnerable when inviting someone else to witness that practice."

Other Things To Know About Mutual Masturbation

Mutual masturbation can be the main course, a side dish, or a snack in your sex life. You can touch each other, touch yourself and watch them, take turns, etc.—the variations are many. It can also involve more than two people. Oh, and you can enjoy it with toys, foods, and other erotic mediums in tandem. To say that mutual masturbation is incredibly versatile doesn’t do it justice. Like Stockwell says, "Mutual masturbation takes things to a whole other level." 

It’s as safe as sex can be, aside from solo-masturbation or not having sex at all. As you would with any other sexual activity, make sure you and whomever you’re practicing it with are taking the necessary precautions. Mutual masturbation is a vulnerable sexual activity so be ready for the nerves. And while vulnerability can increase intimacy in your relationship, it may be uncomfortable at first. But what makes it worthwhile is that you and your partner will be able to learn about each other in a new setting. If you’re thinking about trying it, then I have no cons from a health or a pleasure perspective that should stand in your way.

The Final Takeaway

Mutual masturbation is fun, mind-opening, and it feels amazing. My partner and I have become closer. We're more comfortable experimenting and engaging in other sexual experiences. As a sex writer, I’m not the end-all, be-all of sex by any means. But when I come across something new that I haven’t seen or tried before, being the person I am, nine times out of ten I want to try it.

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