Sometimes, getting a nice, long massage from your partner can feel better than sex. Luckily, you can have both. Giving your partner a massage (yes, it's important to give as well as receive) is not only an act of love and kindness, but it's the ultimate foreplay. By using touch, lighting candles, and anointing your partner with oil, a massage is as erotic as it gets.
Whether or not you plan on incorporating a happy ending or oiled-up sex into your rub down, the intimacy benefits of learning how to give a proper massage are boundless. To start, if you're interested in the kinky elements of massage, the client/masseuse relationship is a really fun scenario for role-playing.
Of course, tapping into your inner masseuse isn't always easy. So we spoke to a few professional massage therapists to round up the best tips on giving someone a relaxing, intimate, erotic massage that will leave them wanting (or even
begging) for more. While we're arguably more in control of and confident about our sexuality than ever, there's still so much we don't know about female arousal. So this month, we're exploring everything you want and need to know about how women get turned on now. Check out more here.
Set the mood.
The atmosphere is everything. "Choose a quiet room, light a scented candle, play some relaxing music, and get comfortable," says Rachel Beider, licensed massage therapist, certified aromatherapist, and the owner of
Massage Williamsburg and Massage Greenpoint. Go with a classic spa vibe and play ambient music, try our sleep playlist to get your partner into deep relaxation mode, or replay a Valentine's Day playlist for extra romance. ILLUSTRATED BY ISABELLA DIMARZIO More
Chill on the thumbs.
When you want to splurge on a massage at the spa, you go for the 60- or 90-minute option. But massaging your partner for that long can seem like a miserable experience for your poor, little thumbs. Luckily, there's a trick to this: If you want more endurance, don't rely on your thumbs and hands to do 100% of the work — put your whole body into it in order to make the whole thing easier.
"People tend to use their thumbs too much and have to quit before the first few minutes," says John O'Mahoney, massage therapist. "Try not to spend too much time squeezing and pushing with your fingers. Use your bodyweight to exert pressure through your hands."
That said, even if you master this technique, you definitely
don't have to commit to massaging your partner for an entire hour. ILLUSTRATED BY ISABELLA DIMARZIO More
Purchase your supplies.
Becoming an expert at-home masseuse requires a little shopping. You don't need to dole out a ton of money for an entire massage table, but you'll need some go-to relaxation tools. Soft towels and pillows can turn your bed into a massage table, and candles can help create a relaxing ambiance. Pro-tip: Buy fresh cut roses (or flowers of your choice) to set a truly romantic vibe.
You'll also need lotion or massage oil, which can do double duty as aromatherapy. "Consider lavender essential oil for extra relaxation; or to uplift, try grapefruit, orange, or peppermint," Beider says.
If your partner is sore, she suggests using rosemary or eucalyptus for a more medicinal vibe. As
essential oils can be harsh on the skin, if you're buying them in pure form, simply place a few drops into a carrier oil, such as grape seed oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil, Beider says. ILLUSTRATED BY ISABELLA DIMARZIO More
The best part of getting a manicure is obviously the hand massage at the end. From typing, to manual labor, to caring for children, most of us give our hands a hard workout daily. Therefore, it's crucial to incorporate hands into your at-home massage. An intimate way to transition to hand massage with a lover? Hold theirs.
"A wonderful way to start [a massage] is by taking the hand of your partner and rubbing the inside of their palm with your finger. From there, you can turn the palm of the hand up and rub the inside of their wrists with your thumbs," says
O'Mahoney. "Then, hold the wrist with one hand while you squeeze the thumb side of their hand, so you pull down and decompress the thumb. From there, do the same on the pinky side with the other hand."
The soothing technique will also relax your partner and help loosen tension so you can move onto other areas of the body.
ILLUSTRATED BY ISABELLA DIMARZIO More
Lubrication is key.
Make sure your partner is nice and lubed up before going to town on those tight muscles of theirs. Using a specially scented essential oil can be nice, but if you're on a budget, regular body lotion will work fine.
"Apply lotion or oil to your hands first, then use long gliding strokes to apply the warmed oil to your partner," Beider says. "Don't make the mistake of squeezing cold oil or lotion on your partner — it feels startling and unpleasant."
If you want to
really warm things up, try a massage candle that melts into massage oil. O'Mahoney likes to use coconut oil, since it also can be used as a sexual lubricant, so the transition into sexy time is easy. Keep in mind that coconut oil is not latex-safe, so while it's a lovely and affordable all-natural lubricant, only use it as lube with a fluid-bonded partner who you don't need to use condoms with (meaning: someone you're in a monogamous sexual relationship with who you know has been tested for their STI status). ILLUSTRATED BY ISABELLA DIMARZIO More
Pay attention to the shoulders.
The shoulders are notorious for
holding tension (especially for people with desk jobs who are hunched over computers all day). Treat your lover to some relief by focusing on their shoulders.
"Use kneading strokes on the shoulders and neck, and apply a moderate amount of pressure on areas that feel stiff or hard, avoiding the spine and any bones," Beider says. "When you are applying pressure, try to really feel what's going on underneath your fingers, rather than just doing the action of the movement."
She adds: "Listen to your partner's muscles, and watch for signs of tension or relaxation."
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