“I’m So Sick of Missionary—Is Mutual Masturbation the Wake Up Call We Need?”

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"Missionary and the occasional role playing has worked for us before, but it seems too predictable. Is mutual masturbation for us? I'd like to know what else people do for variety, but I don't want to invite other people to join or BDSM."— Jennifer M., 54, Dallas

Ah, togetherness, the double-edged sword: On one hand, there’s opportunity for increased intimacy with your loved one but also the potential for well, same old, same old. But good news—an alternative to boredom is right within reach—masturbation. What’s surprising is that this activity usually makes us think of being alone, and according to experts, what’s happening just as much is that couples are masturbating together. Let's look a little more closely at mutual masturbation. Think of it as “you do you,” NSFW edition.

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Meet the Experts

Venus O'Hara is the host of the Orgasmic Lifestyle Podcast and multiple-platform content creator specializing in sexual health and wellness topics. She is the co-author of Love Me Like You Hate Me, a guide to BDSM and leads an online course on sex magick from her home in Barcelona.

Julie Teffeteller is a relationship coach and Tiktok creator. She is the author of the At-Home Date Night Handbook and 365 Progressive Conversation Starters for Couples.

First Off, What Is Mutual Masturbation Exactly?

Mutual masturbation is self-stimulation done in the company of, or with participation of, a partner. Couples reveal what they do when they masturbate, but also they are discovering new pleasure while watching each other self-stimulate, with or without toys. According to a 2023 study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, mutual masturbation was common among both genders, and recent mutual masturbation was positively associated with sexual satisfaction—especially for women.

And What’s the Big Whoop?

According to O’Hara, there’s a predictable narrative to long-time couples sex: “Kiss, caress, undress, oral optional, penetration, male orgasm” she says. “then after male orgasm, it’s game over. It can become really boring if you are just focused on the penetration.” Basically, O’Hara explains mutual masturbation as re-imagining your sex life as not being strictly intercourse-oriented, and opening it up to other sensations such as teasing and relaxation.

How Can I Try It? Positions, Methods and Tips

Mutual masturbation is a great low-lift option that everyone, from not-so-kinky types to the been there-done that people, can get something out of. Experts at leading sex toy seller Lovehoney recommend experimenting with unique positions during mutual masturbation sessions, including the beginner-friendly "soft touch" in which you lie next to your partner and hold hands while each of you watches the other partner touch themself and the "peep show" in which a person sits on the edge of a bed and spreads their legs—with or without new lingerie on—and their partner watches from a short distance away...no touching allowed.

1. Beginners, Start with Massage

FG Trade/Getty Images

According to O’Hara, newbies to sex tech can get a neck massager and agree to have each partner massage the other one for 20 minutes, agreeing beforehand there will be no sex activity or even taking clothes off. This will help normalize a buzzing toy as being part of the couple’s intimacy.

2. Grab the Toys

MyroslavaPavlyk/Getty Images

Alternatively, a partner might want to gift the other partner a toy as well as buying one for themselves, to play with together. For instance, one partner can use a C-shaped vibrator as a stroking device on themselves, while the other can use a penis ring as a vibrator. Or a woman can use a clitoral stimulation device on herself, while the other partner watches. “Men love watching their partner get off,” O'Hara says.

3. Explore Wearables

We-Vibe

There’s also an entire toy category called wearables, which attach to a woman’s panties via a magnet, sit against the clitoris and pulse and vibrate according to signals from an app—a boon for long-distance relationships (as well as for couples who just want to have a secret sexual thrill while together privately or in public). The We-Vibe Moxie+, pictured, has up to 10 modes and adjustable rumbly vibration. “This is a great way of teasing someone,” O’Hara says, and thus spicing up your usual habits. It’s important to try new things in a relationship, she says, and “be sure to have variety so there’s multiple ways of orgasmic stimulation.”

How to Try Mutual Masturbation Virtually for Long-Distance Relationships

According to relationship coach Julie Teffeteller, being physically separated due to work doesn't mean you can't stay connected intimately. She recommends spontaneous flirty sexting, scheduled video chats and role playing email exchanges as prompts for mutual masturbation; she also suggests toys that can be controlled remotely via app. And, for the sex partner who has everything, "you can make a replica of your 'stuff'," she quips, gesturing to her lap, "and send it to each other."

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