How To Give A PERFECT Romantic Massage (Tip 1: It's NOT About Sex)

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Love, Self

Connect with your partner in a soothing, sensual way they'll appreciate.

Sure, a great rubdown can put anyone in the mood — but if getting your partner's kinks out is always about seduction, you’re missing out on a powerful bonding experience. By exploring each other's needs through the selfless act of massage, you can learn how to make each other melt, physically and emotionally.

"Massage is about giving and receiving," explains Dr. Deborah Musso, director and founder of Sea Change New York, a Manhattan wellness center. "With massage you gain a whole new understanding of how to create intimacy: Set a sacred space, let go of tension, and go from a state of defense to a place that's safe." 

Gordon Inkeles, author of The New Sensual Massage and other books on the subject, urges couples to "rediscover the tactile possibilities" of the body, since most people reserve touching for the so-called "erogenous zones" — only 5 percent of the available territory.

Inkeles points to the ultra-sensitive scalp and feet as sensually deprived areas. He also suggests focusing on the areas that hold the most tension: For men, that's the lower back, and for women, the neck and shoulders.

"Be generous with your partner," Inkeles advises. "It costs nothing — you don't need a professional. If you spend time with your partner's body, you will get results."

Here's How To Get Started:

1. Compression: Press firmly with one or two hands on muscular areas of the body and make a circular motion. On large areas, use the heel of the hands or the flat part of your knuckles in addition to the fingertips. Once you master this, your partner will begin to trust your abilities and relax.

2. Circulation: Massage increases blood flow, getting more oxygen to the brain, which will improve mood. Push your entire hand around part of their the body, such as the back, thighs, or upper arms, in a loop. In back circulation, for example, the recipient should feel one continuous motion from the base of the spine to the shoulders, then down the sides, then across the hips.

3. Friction: This penetrating movement acts as a natural analgesic to sore spots. Gather up a generous handful of flesh, framing the sore spot between your closed fingers and open thumb. Lean forward and put weight on that hand, then use your free hand to circle slowly and with pressure on the framed muscle tissue — not just the surface skin — below.

4. Kneading: Lift folds of flesh between the thumb and fingertips, squeeze, and release, working in a circle. Repeat, alternating hands in the same area to create a rhythmic, rolling sensation—just like kneading bread.

5. Percussion: The dreaded "karate chop" should feel more like a gentle rain than a thunderstorm, according to Inkeles. Cushion your thumping stroke by striking your fisted hand onto your flat hand as it rests on your partner’s body. Or bend your hands into upside-down cups and pummel gently to create vibrations that awaken nerves and control stress.

Think of massage as a thoughtful exploration of your lover's body, rather than a task that you must complete in order to get your turn. Generosity beats strength and skill. Repeating simple strokes and massaging for at least an hour will give more pleasure than attempting complicated movements.

"Most people don't see massage on the menu of life. We tend to rush our pleasures," adds Inkeles. "What could be more precious than having someone who is generous enough to focus on the needs of all your body parts?"

Rules Of The Rub


  • Turn off phones, remove distractions and play soft music.
  • Make the environment warm (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Light healthy soy candles such as Ergo or Suntouched, which melt into moisturizing massage oil.
  • Oil everything except the scalp. Try Jurlique's Romance Blend, a heady mix of orange, patchouli, and ylang ylang, or D.I.Y. with safflower oil with a few drops of lemon juice.
  • Have towels handy.
  • Repeat the same strokes over and over.
  • Quietly disappear when the massage is over.

Do Not:

  • Massage on a bed (Create a soft surface on the floor instead.)
  • Talk, or massage while your partner is reading or watching TV.
  • Probe or poke the body.
  • Break body contact.
  • Apply pressure to the spine or back below the ribs, when the kidneys aren't protected.
  • Change the rhythm or pace of your strokes.
  • Wear a watch or jewelry.
  • Say "My turn!" after you've finished.