Relax & Romance Your Partner With Our Guide To An At-Home Massage

There are obvious health benefits of getting a massage, such as reduced stress and better sleep — and really, they just feel good! There are plenty of couples spa treatments that will bring you and your partner closer, but giving your partner a massage yourself can definitely be kinder to your wallet and bring on the romance.

It doesn't take a professional masseuse to help someone unwind and relax, and no one knows your partner's body the way that you do. Whether you want to help your partner de-stress and unwind or do something sexy and fun for a date night in, planning an at-home massage is the perfect way to show your partner some TLC. 

Bring out the candles, set the vibe with relaxing music, and turn up the heat. This can be a sultry surprise or something you and your partner discuss at length. No matter what, your efforts will certainly not go to waste as long as you're confident, direct, and allow yourself to have fun with it. Just remember to put some towels down; an end to a perfect massage can be soured by the realization those massage oils have stained your bedspread. With that out of the way, though, let your creativity do the rest! 

Accept that you aren't a professional

Becoming a licensed masseuse takes hundreds of hours of training, so unless you've been attending classes, the chances are that you're not a professional. That's fine — because your partner isn't going to be expecting a professional. However, there are some precautions to take. Boulder Nuad Thai Massage and Spa cautions 'amateurs' not to attempt more sensitive and delicate areas such as the throat, eye area, temples, and the insides of joints, as improper technique can damage these areas. You should also use extreme caution if your partner has an injury — even an old one —  or other physical complications. 

However, that doesn't mean you should be scared to massage your partner! Set realistic expectations; a great at-home massage may not have the same results as a massage therapy session, so don't expect it to. Instead, focus on what it will do. Your partner will love feeling more relaxed and pampered by your hand, and the in-the-moment sensation of having someone work the tension out of your shoulders is mind-blowing. You probably won't be able to fix someone's chronic headaches, for example, but you'll certainly be able to wow them for the evening! Use your best judgment and do what feels natural. 

Create the right atmosphere

Once you're ready to actually get the massage underway, start by creating the right atmosphere. Think first and foremost about what you want for the evening. Is this to help your partner relax after a grueling week at work? A stay-cation for the night? Or is this a night of romance and passion? You'll want to have your surroundings reflect what you're expecting from the massage. This likely means taking each of the five senses into account. You'll want pleasing music for the ears, soft towels for touch, pleasant candles or essential oils for smell, dimmed lights and perhaps some flowers for the eyes, and maybe even a snack or drink beforehand to apply to taste. 

It's much the same if you're looking to help your partner unwind. Pick a distraction-free environment in your home, away from any interruptions a TV, computer, or phone may offer. Somewhere private and comfortable, like the bedroom, is best — but you can also set up a good space in a larger room, such as your living room, if the bedroom is too small. Put on some music, ensure the room is nice and warm, and break out some incense to take your mind to a tropical island. Once everything is ready, draw the curtains or blinds for privacy and put everything else on hold. 

Be confident

You've probably heard before that self-confidence is sexy, and studies show that it's completely true. MeetMindful writes that those who can be unapologetically their genuine selves are the type of people who are seen as irresistibly "magnetic." So put your self-love to practice, and don't quake away from what you're offering your partner. It helps to have everything set up beforehand.

A ready room, materials, and a go-plan will make it much easier to be confident when you show your partner that you've got a massage prepared for them, and it will help you not be nervous when you proceed. It's okay to be a little cautious — and even nervous — when trying something new, but don't let that take away from the fun. Even if it doesn't go exactly as planned, your partner will truly appreciate your effort and devotion, so don't let anxiety get in the way of enjoying yourself. 

It's also hard to relax when you notice someone isn't confident about what they're doing. If you want to help your partner de-stress, don't act antsy about the massage, even if this is your first time giving one. Be confident in the knowledge that you know your partner's body and how they react. Even if it might take you a bit to find your groove, walk into this with your head held high. You've got this! 

Get clothes out of the way

While it's fine to give your partner a quick shoulder massage over their shirt, a more in-depth massage benefits from removing any barriers. Since you've already set up the room for privacy and warmth, nixing the clothes to your comfort level is the natural next step. It may help to keep the undergarments on if you or your partner are nervous, but otherwise, go where the mood takes you. You can have a towel, sheet, or blanket on standby to cover up areas you're not massaging so that your partner doesn't get cold if you need to. The removal of clothes also helps facilitate an intimate atmosphere when you're at home, so it's really a win-win situation. 

For the person massaging, what you wear is all up to you. If you're hoping for a little more skin-on-skin contact but don't want to be walking around exposed, a robe is a great way to go. In fact, having a robe ready for your partner is a great idea in case they need to get up for any reason before you're finished. If you decide you want to stay dressed, make sure your clothes are comfy, soft, and especially non-restrictive. If you have longer hair, consider pulling it back so it doesn't get in the way.

Choose oils and lotions

You don't need to order a bunch of expensive oils or lotions for your at-home massage. In fact, it's likely that you already have something that will work on hand. There are a ton of oils that work great for a massage, but coconut oil stands out as an easy and non-greasy option that works for a variety of skin types, and avocado oil is great for dry skin. This is where knowing your partner will be crucial. Knowing what scents your partner likes or doesn't care for will go a long way, but be especially mindful if they have sensitive skin, allergies, or any conditions a topical could aggravate. If you're not sure about it, ask your partner, as it may be necessary to do a patch test beforehand. 

Combining oils and lotions is good, too. While coconut oil works great for larger areas like the back, a lightly scented lotion will do wonders for the feet and hands. With oil, be careful not to go too overboard; you won't be doing too much massaging if you're slipping and sliding all over the place. Having too little can be a problem too, especially if you find yourself chafing your partner's skin or tugging on body hair. Start with small quantities and work your way up to adding more until you find what works, and keep a towel on hand for any spills. 

Start at the back

The back is the largest, easiest area to navigate. You can move from the lower back and hips up to the mid-back and all the way up to the shoulders. It's best to start here because the other areas of the body will require less pressure, so if you start to get tired, your technique won't suffer. Everyone is different in what they will want in terms of pressure and what areas they will want you to focus on, so let your natural inclination and tips from your partner guide you.

The shoulders are usually a safe area to bet on, as there's plenty of muscle to work with and usually at least a little tension to work out. You can use your fingertips, your whole hand, the heel and sides of your hand, your knuckles, and in special cases, sometimes even your elbows. Make sure you find a position you're comfortable with. While most professionals will move from side to side of a massage table, you may find it easier to straddle your partner's lower back or legs if they're comfortable with it.

Or, you can sit at their head and lean over their back; whatever works best for you. Avoid pinching or pulling on your partner's skin by kneading and using broader strokes. If you find that you get tired after just the back, you've at least gotten the largest area finished off, which will make the massage a success even without focusing on the rest of the body. 

Utilize your weight

One benefit of straddling your partner as you message them is that you'll be able to use your weight in your massage instead of relying purely on your muscles. This can also help increase pressure if that's what your partner wants. Remember to go slow. You'll want to start light and gradually increase pressure, especially to the muscles around the spine. Don't push down too hard on the spine, or any other bony area, such as the shoulder blades. 

Keep your strokes gliding and move your body as you go, as it will help distribute your weight and keep you from tiring. Keeping your weight shifting to different parts of your hands will keep you from getting uncomfortable or stiff, and the more you get into it, the better your massage is likely to feel. If you want to use your body weight to help you with other areas of massage, place yourself above your partner so that gravity can do the rest. Don't worry if your partner dozes off a bit as you're massaging them; that only means it's working.

Move to the limbs

The limbs are more sensitive and delicate than the back, so be a little more gentle as you move outwards. Try to use circular motions in the legs and arms and compression as you go up and down each limb. If you move on to the hands and feet, you'll rely heavily on your thumbs. Remember not to be rough. Use smaller motions and build up, working from the inside of a small area outwards. For the hand, you can almost pull from the wrist up to the tip of each finger, and for the feet, focus on the heel and the ball of the foot. If you massage your partner's feet and then move to another area, it may be a good idea to wash your hands first. 

It will take time for knots to release and for tension to ebb away. You'll want to do the same motions over the area three to five times in a row. Don't skip out on the upper areas of the limb; make sure to get the shoulder and hips when visiting the biceps and thighs. Notice what your partner enjoys and repeat those motions, especially as you switch from one arm or leg to the other. Also, be careful not to confuse bone with a stiff muscle, as putting pressure on a boney area won't do your partner any good. 

Go back over tense areas

For tense areas, you may want to give them a chance to relax from your initial massage and come back around a second time. Oprah Daily describes the three different strokes you can use: effleurage, petrissage, and friction. Effleurage includes "long, slow, gliding strokes" that help with circulation, while petrissage is a more "kneading stroke" that goes a little deeper. For bad knots, you'll want to use friction. You can use a back-and-forth or circular motion as you push deeper into the knot, gently rocking the knot away. For each stroke, you can use as much or as little pressure as you or your partner like, tailoring it to your particular whims. 

However, if the area is sore but not particularly knotted, for example, in the hands, you'll want to use more of the effleurage techniques. For meatier areas, petrissage is perfect for gently squeezing the muscles. In general, use all three strokes, starting with effleurage, then petrissage, and ending with friction. Move back through the three motions as many times as you please, and end with effleurage to encourage blood flow and body repair. If your partner doesn't seem to enjoy one stroke, don't worry about coming back to it. Sticking to a formula isn't as important as their individual experience, so keep an eye out for their preferences and build a routine that best fits them as you go. 

Regularly check in with your partner

Above all, you don't want to hurt your partner with your massage. To avoid this and make sure they're getting the most out of your efforts, be sure to check in regularly. Just because they loved what you were doing a minute ago doesn't mean they will enjoy the same pressure a few moments from now, so keep a keen eye out. Watch out for them tensing or making noises of discomfort. If you notice that, pause and ask them about it.

Sometimes, they may want you to keep going or even apply more pressure despite the discomfort of working out a tough knot. Other times, what worked great on one side of the back may just be very uncomfortable on the other — it's no one's fault, but obviously, you don't want them to sit in silence while they're not enjoying your ministrations. This also goes for room temperature. Are they too hot or cold?

When you try out new strokes, do they like it, and does it feel good? Getting their feedback will only help you deliver a better massage. Don't worry about ruining the atmosphere or the moment; comfort comes first, and your partner will appreciate your care. If all seems well, chiming in to ask if it's still feeling good every now and then is a good way to touch base. Expressing that your partner can ask you to do something different or more or something you've already done is also a good way to open up communication. 


Once you're feeling comfortable, it's time to experiment a little. When giving an at-home massage, fast strokes can be more stimulating to your partner, while slower strokes are calming. Take note of your partner's reactions when you use certain parts of your hand or arm and how they respond to different areas of the body. Maybe you want to get a little more romantic; you can try out a few kisses here and there or run your fingers through their hair as you wind down. 

It's all up to you and your partner. The goal here isn't to create a clinical environment. You want to make it your own, whether simply to relax or for something a little more stimulating is all up to you — and if that goal changes from moment to moment, that's your prerogative. Trying new little tricks can also be fun, like a warm towel or the application of other spa treatments, like a face mask. Facial sheet masks serve double duty as body moisturizers if you use them right, after all! Change it up as you will and make it entirely your own.

Have fun with it!

Don't be afraid to be silly, sexy, and try things out as you go. Maybe you walked into this wanting to seduce your partner, but you ended up giggling together over a ticklish spot. Never count moments like this as a failure; so long as you connect, your massage is 100% successful. It's the same if you intended to really de-stress your partner, but things got steamy halfway through. In the end, it's more about the experience than the actual results, and how you and your partner emotionally connect during the massage matters most.

You can make more of your evening if you want, too. For example, if you're already bringing the massage home, you can try beauty treatments at home together, too. Or, try washing those oils off together with an aromatic bath. Whatever you feel works best for you and your partner, take hold of the idea and go for it. Be as serious as you want — but at heart, have fun with what you're doing to please your partner, and they'll definitely have a good time, too.