How to Give a Massage to Your Partner That'll Make Them Melt

Hint: It's about focused attention more than technique.
How to Give a Massage to Your Partner
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Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Apr 21, 2023

There are few date activities quite as quintessential romantic as getting couples massages at a spa. Unfortunately, while ideal for a special occasion (such as an anniversary), spa dates are usually a rare indulgence. But that doesn't mean that you and your partner can't still enjoy their relaxing, intimacy-boosting benefits: Learning how to give a massage to your partner will help them decompress, show them you care and possibly segue to great sex, too.

So dim the lights, cue some soft music and pick up some new soothing skills. Especially if your partner's love language is physical touch, learning how to give a massage is a skill set sure to be much appreciated.

Meet Our Experts:

In this article:

    Basic Techniques to Give a Good Massage

    Learning how to give a massage doesn't have to be intimidating. As psychologist and sex therapist Carol Rinkleib Ellison, Ph.D. points out: "Massage is not so much about technique as attention... Take your time, since its purpose is slow pleasure."

    By giving the massage your full attention and staying clued into your partner's needs and comfort, you can knead away their muscles while improving your communication and physical and emotional connection.

    Here are some basic massage techniques to help take your touch to the next level.


    Like with any physically or emotionally intimate activity, communication is key: Therapist Zoe Webb says to first ask your partner if you can massage them and find out which parts of their body they'd like you to work on—and avoid.

    Sexologist and creator of The Erotic Blueprint Breakthrough, Jaiya, also suggests discussing which type of touch your partner prefers, such as intense muscular kneading or light, feathery strokes. If they're unsure, spend some time experimenting and encourage them to be vocal about what they like best.

    Pay attention to your hands

    Steal this basic massage technique from professional masseurs: Always keep two hands on their body. (Haven't you ever noticed that a massage therapist's hands never fully leave your body in a spa setting?)

    Make sure your hands and fingers are soft and relaxed, sexologist Charla Hathaway, Ph.D. further counsels. There's no need to be nervous—and you don't want to pass along any tension to your partner.

    Use flowing movements

    Allow one touch to flow into another, rather than jumping from area to area, instructs Jaiya. Jerky movements will startle, rather than relax, your partner.

    Adapt your strokes

    During the massage, pay attention to when your partner's body relaxes versus when it tenses. This way, you can adapt your touch to their needs, says Jaiya. Spend more time on their areas of tension, working out knots.

    Focus on your breath

    Try to coordinate your massage with their breathing, suggests Hathaway. To sync up with your partner, you could even gently sit on or straddle them if you're both comfortable with that position.


    It all goes back to communication! Throughout the massage, occasionally ask your partner whether you need to make any adjustments, suggests Webb. Otherwise, they might feel too shy to speak up.

    Prepare a Relaxing Space

    Now that you have some basic massage techniques in your arsenal, it's time to perfect your set-up. "The perfect relaxation space will be one free from distractions, whether that's phone notifications or family members knocking on the door," says Webb.

    And according to Hathaway, creating a relaxing space can really boost the soothing effects of the massage itself. "It's about creating a space that makes both you and your partner feel cozy," she says.

    Choose a peaceful room

    Find the most serene space you can, and have your partner lie on a flat, soft surface such as a bed or yoga mat. Jaiya recommends investing in an actual massage table if you plan on making regular massages a part of your and your partner's routine.

    But wherever you're performing the rubdown, be sure to have soft sheets and a bolster on hand to support your partner's knees (when they are on their back) and ankles (when they're lying face down). "You want them to feel safe to surrender and let their body go," explains Jaiya.

    Invest in massage lotion or oil

    Look for a natural massage lotion and warm it before applying it to your partner's skin. Jaiya also recommends natural oils, like coconut or sesame, and if your partner's a fan of essential oils, try spritzing the sheets with their favorite scent. (Lavender is a particularly calming option.)

    Add some mood lighting or music

    Dim the lights or illuminate the room with candles, suggests Cooper, who sometimes uses electronic versions in smaller spaces for safety and convenience.

    If you choose to include music, pick slower-paced songs, as fast-paced tunes may make it harder for your partner to relax, says Cooper. She also suggests avoiding songs with lyrics, since they can be distracting.

    Incorporate toys

    Incorporating vibrators or vibrating massage devices can make massages more erotic, points out Cooper. Along with coming in handy if sex is on the table, these tools' vibrations can help further relax your partner's muscles.

    How to Give a Back Massage

    Along with the basic massage techniques above, consider these pointers for performing a relaxing back massage on your partner.

    Step 1

    Set up a surface low enough for you to comfortably work on your partner. Have them lie down on their stomach, then drape their butt with a warm blanket or towel.

    Step 2

    Place your hands on their back and the bottom of their spine, then gently rock them for a minute or two. Apply warm oil or lotion to their back.

    Step 3

    Glide your hands up and down their back to help wake their nerve endings and heat up their skin and muscles.

    Step 4

    Starting at their waistline, slowly glide your oiled-up elbows up alongside both sides of their spine. If they'd prefer a less penetrating touch, use the well-oiled flats of your palms instead.

    Step 5

    Gently squeeze the shoulder muscles, making your grip as wide as possible to avoid a pinching feeling. Use a stronger or lighter touch, based on your partner's preferences.

    How to Give a Foot Massage

    Whether they adopt a permanent spot on the dance floor during wedding season or have been on their feet a lot at work lately, you can soothe your partner's tired dogs with these foot massage techniques.

    Step 1

    Since many people have very sensitive feet, tread lightly as you discover your lover's tolerance for touch there, instructs Jaiya. Before you begin, ask them whether certain areas are more ticklish, so you can avoid sending them into a fit of giggles.

    Step 2

    Apply warm oil or lotion. Then, work slowly, being gentle rather than forceful.

    Step 3

    Use the flat pads of your thumbs to rub long strokes along the arches of their feet. Grip and squeeze the sides of their heels and their Achilles tendons as you go.

    Step 4

    Pull their toes and gently pinch the webbing between them.

    Step 5

    When finished, be sure to wipe their feet clean of excess oil so they don't slip on any tiled floors.

    The Mutual Benefits of Giving a Massage to Your Partner

    The act of massaging your partner provides the opportunity for uninterrupted quality time with them. Additionally during the massage, their body will likely release "feel-good" hormones, like oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, that'll help you both relax and further connect, explains Jaiya.

    This form of TLC also allows you to learn more about your partner's body, including how they prefer to be touched—helpful information when it comes to sexual intimacy.

    Jaiya recommends preceding sex with a massage since the practice can improve relaxation, blood circulation and arousal. Just be sure to be transparent with your partner about your intentions if you want a massage to lead to sex, she counsels. "Your partner may not be able to relax if they sense your ulterior motive."

    The ultimate point of the massage is to please, relax and focus on your partner, after all.

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