There are regular massages, which most folks find relaxing, and then there are erotic massages, which can be downright life-changing. Erotic messages are similar to regular ones, except they’re aimed at releasing tension and decreasing stress in the recipient by either enhancing or achieving sexual arousal.
If you’re giving an erotic massage, you can’t do it half-assed. After all, your partner will have their full ass in front of you, so you need to give their body all the attention it deserves. There are two essential components of erotic massage, and you need to be good at both. First is the actual massage part. The second part is making it sensual.
How to Give an Erotic Massage
Here are 7 steps to giving your partner an erotic massage they’ll remember.
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Set the mood.
Have your partner disrobe and lie face-down on a firm bed. They can fully or partially cover up with a sheet if they’re feeling shy. Dim the lights, light some candles, and play some relaxing music—it doesn’t need to be typical spa music or the sound of the rainforest, but it should be something that you know your partner finds soothing. If you really want to step your game up, use an essential oil diffuser to pump some soothing scents into the air.
According to Charla Hathaway, an intimacy coach and clinical sexologist who literally wrote the book on erotic massage, there are two things you should do before the massaging begins. First, check in with your partner about their boundaries (are there any areas on your partner’s body that they don’t want massaged or touched?). Then, set some intentions together. “Offer [the] release of something to get rid of—pressure, stress, headiness, etc.—and then light an intention candle for what you both want to bring into the experience—deep breath, self-love, body acceptance, etc.” she says.
Awaken the senses.
Before you start digging into the knots in your partner’s shoulders, help them feel grounded and present in their body using light touch or sensation toys. “Sensation toys to use before any oil is used are feathers, furs, silk scarves, leather floggers, [or] cornstarch on your fingertips,” Hathaway says.
Use actual massage oil.
When it’s time for the massaging part, don’t just grab the big bottle of Lubriderm sitting in the cabinet underneath the sink. Use oil to create an authentic massage experience. “I love organic coconut oil for summer, almond oil in the winter,” Hathaway says. You can even use CBD massage oil to make things extra relaxing. Just make sure to check in about your partner’s skin allergies ahead of time.
Pro tip: If you’re massaging a vulva-owner and you’re planning to end the massage with genital stimulation, stick with coconut oil or wash your hands before any vaginal penetration. Some ingredients can disrupt the vagina’s delicate pH balance.
Start (and continue) slowly.
For at least the first 20 minutes of the erotic massage, it should simply look like a regular massage. Don’t head straight to your partner’s erogenous zones. You should help them relax and move towards their sensitive areas slowly. That way, by the time you work your way down to your partner’s genitals, they’re in a physical and mental space to fully receive you.
“Use the heel of your hand to make continuous fluid movements and work the whole length of the muscle,” says Susan Findlay, director of the North London School of Sports Massage. Make sure you’re taking your time and focusing on each muscle before moving to the next (at least two minutes per area). If you feel a knot in one place, knead that bad boy out before moving on to another part of their body.
After massaging every muscle, start teasing.
Alright, by now you’ve massaged their neck, their back, so it’s time to move on to…exactly, yes. But jokes aside, you should have given your partner a full body massage at this point. Now you can get to the fun stuff and start teasing them. Get close to touching your partner’s erogenous zones without actually touching them. Instead of going straight for the nipples, massage around the breast. Instead of going straight for the vagina or penis, massage the crease where your partner’s thigh connects to their pelvis. Etc.
Start massaging their naughty bits.
Once you’ve teased your partner long enough, then and only then do you get to actually touch their sexy parts. By this point, they should be stewing in sexual tension, so even the lightest touch might make them moan. Start with a light hand job or circular motions around a partner’s clitoris. After some time, you can take things to the next level, whether that’s digital penetration, a firmer hand job, direct clitoral stimulation, or oral sex. If you want your partner to enjoy multiple sensations at once, Hathaway suggests asking your partner to “help.” Maybe they can touch their own clitoris while you penetrate their vagina, or maybe they play with their ass while you give your partner a blow job.
Let them finish.
If you’ve done everything right, there’s a high likelihood that your partner will orgasm after all of this build-up; after that, they’ll feel very relaxed. Join your partner for a post-orgasm cuddle session. Then take everything you’ve learned about your partner’s body and put it to use the next time you’re in the sack.
And keep practicing erotic massage, too! If you and your partner massage each other on a regular basis, it might bring you closer together. “Make erotic massage a ritual,” Hathway says. “Once a month, to learn more about each other.”
Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on lifestyle, sexuality, and culture. He was formerly the digital associate editor at OUT Magazine and currently has a queer cannabis column, Puff Puff YASS, at Civilized.
Ro White is a Chicago-based writer, sex educator, and Autostraddle’s Sex & Dating Editor.