Yeah, yeah: Everyone everywhere promises better, hotter, more fulfilling sex, pledging mind-bending orgasms and life-changing sex positions left and right. One thing you don’t often hear: how massage improves your sex life. This is not a drill, folks. One thing that can actually lead to amazing sex and intimacy giving your partner a massage to help them relax, Rex Donald, an associate professor of clinical sexology, tells Bustle. If I could insert an emoji here, it would be the high-five hands. Or the hands thrown in the air in jubilance. Or the angel smiley face. Whatever: Suffice it to say that I agree. Wholeheartedly. From the core of my soul.
“Massage is one great thing couples can do each day to enhance intimacy,” Donald tells Bustle. And it doesn’t have to be some epic massage sesh, though there certainly is nothing wrong with that. “They can enjoy wonderful benefits from just a brief, five-minute session,” he says. “It not only helps reduce stress and anxiety, when done in a supportive way, it provides a powerful new way to communicate affection and share intimacy.” Many yeses to that.
Here’s why, he says: Studies have found that massage can help reduce stress hormone levels, including cortisol and adrenocorticotropin. High stress hormone levels result in a lowered libido (sad-face emoji). Not only that, he says, massage also enhances your ‘feel good’ hormones, aka oxytocin and serotonin, “which profoundly helps intimacy.”
Donald includes a caveat: “One critical point, though, is there must be the the mutual understanding that there is no obligation for the massage to lead to sexual activity.” Understood. “This can increase the receiving partners stress if they aren’t in the mood.” OK, proceed.
“Each partner verbally commits to massaging each other simply to help them relax and feel good,” he says. “The partner giving the massage should understand — and be OK with — the idea that it will often just be a massage, and nothing more.” But it could be more, and sometimes massage might be just the ticket for getting things flowing. Things calm down, your partner feels less stressed, the music is really nice . . . But “if the other partner chooses to engage in other activities, it is completely up to them,” Donald reaffirms. “There should never be an obligation.
Donald shared a simple trick which you can enjoy each night, he says. “This can be done while laying side by side in bed, and only takes a few minutes. Alternate nights for each person, or however you choose to do it.” Take turns!
“Give this a try for several nights, and see what happens to your intimacy,” suggests Donald. “If you have trouble remembering the steps, maybe write them down on a piece of paper and tape them by the bed where you can easily see them.” Of course, this isn’t the be-all and end-all technique — there are hundreds of ways to massage your partner — but this is Donald’s go-to. I’ll tell you one thing: Just reading these seven steps makes me ache for a massage. BRB, going home to beg for one!
“The partner giving the massage first rubs the other’s ears. Grasp the ear with one hand with your thumb, pointer and index fingers, and massage all parts of the ear. Then gently pull on the ear lobes several times. Repeat this with the other ear.”
“Take about a minute massaging the forehead and scalp with your fingertips.”
“Place the palm of your hand on their collar bone and gently press, while rubbing from the outside shoulder inward and back. Do this about 20 times for each side.”
Grasp each forearm and repeatedly squeeze as firmly as your partner likes, from the top of the forearm to the hand. Repeat this a few times. Then do this on the hand, squeezing each finger. Do this for both hands.
“Press your hand on your partner’s abdomen just above their pubic bone, and rub in a clockwise circular motion up just to where their rib cage starts and then back down again. It’s great if you can rub 108 circles. Do this as firmly as your partner desires.”
“Press your hand firmly on your partner’s outside thigh and rub in a firm, sweeping motion from the knee up to the hip, on the outside of the leg up to the hip. Then return the motion, pressing on the inside of the leg back to the knee again. Do this 20 or so times, or as long as your partner wants on each leg. Note that it’s important your partner can trust that you are doing this just for their relaxation, and sexual intimacy is not expected as a result. You’re doing this just because feels really nice and is relaxing.”
“Once you’ve completed this, lay in a close comfortable embrace, and try a game where the partner that gave the massage consciously matches the breathing of the partner who received the massage. Do this for a few minutes.”