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12 Hand Job Problems And What To Do About Them

It's handled.
PHOTO: Pixabay

The hand job doesn't get enough credit for the wonders it can work. Unlike oral sex or anal or vaginal intercourse, it's something that a person with a penis can actually give themselves, and so it usually gets the short end of the shaft (sorry) when it comes to foreplay. It can even feel a little, well, high school to focus on it: there are so many other amazing things to explore with a sex partner, so why hone in on the humble hand job?

Lots of reasons, says Zoë Ligon, sex educator and founder of sex-positive toy store Spectrum Boutique. "Honestly, the 'HJ' is one of my personal favorite sex acts, because even if I'm not horny or am kinda dehydrated, I can always use my hands!" she tells Cosmopolitan.com. "I like hand jobs because I can give my partner much more prolonged, consistent pressure and tightness than I can with my mouth or genitals... You can create quite a wide range of sensations using [your hands]." To troubleshoot your manual sex and make it even better (and even, occasionally, the main event), read on for twelve HJ problems and what to do about them.

1. You're diving in too quickly or getting too aggressive. 

Sometimes, the (mis)conception that penises always like it HARD and FAST can lead you to give too intense of a hand job too soon. "Always start slow and work up your speed to their liking," recommends sex educator Kelly Shibari. "Penises don't usually like being startled. Warming things up gradually is definitely more exciting, since build-up of sexual tension and energy is always a winner." Sex educator Sarah Sloane suggests not beginning with the penis at all: "Start by gently running your fingers up the inner thighs, around the hips, and up onto their belly," she says. "Spend time touching every inch of them, and slowly work your way towards their penis. Rushing towards a goal may make them feel like you're just doing it because they want it, rather than letting them feel like you're enjoying the exploration, too."

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2. You're not paying enough attention to the frenulum. 

One of Ligon's favorite strokes involves the frenulum, that sensitive ridge of tissue underneath the penis head. "Sit between their legs, and clasp your fingers together around the penis," she says. The thumbs then rest against the frenulum, and you can use them in circular motions while your palms and fingers grasp the shaft as loosely or as tightly as the person wants." Experiment with other forms of pressure on the frenulum, for example placing your thumb and finger over it on either side of the penis and moving them up and down or back and forth.

3. You've nailed the up-and-down motion but aren't sure what else to try. 

Don't let your menu of manual moves stop there—there are so many more options. Ligon, for example, recommends the "infinite hole" technique: "You move your hand downward along the shaft, and place your other hand on top of that hand," she explains. "Before the head reaches the end of your top hand, remove the lower hand and place it on top to continue the sensation. You can do the same thing moving your hands upwards, too." Making twisting motions with your hands as you grasp the shaft can also feel great, as can stroking the head the penis head—you'll want lube to avoid chafing. Another technique: "Use two hands, and keep one on the base of the shaft, on top of the balls," sex educator Scarlette Cyn says. "Use the other to slide your hand up and down the shaft... You can also use the hand on the base to gently tickle the balls as you slide your other hand up and down." Speaking of the balls, don't neglect them: cup or stroke them with one hand while your other is at work on the shaft or head.

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4. Your hands need a little assistance. 

Sometimes, an accessory is just what you need. Stroker beads are simple, affordable, and can feel amazing when you rub them against your partner's shaft. If you really want to delegate the manual labor, masturbation sleeves and strokers have your back.


5. You're applying the same amount of pressure to the whole penis. 

"In general, think of the head of the penis like the head of your clitoris: lighter, surface touches work great for both," Sloane says. "Likewise, the shaft of the penis is more like the internal legs of the clitoris: pressure makes them happy." Some people may not even want you to touch the head of the penis at all because it's too sensitive.

6. You don't know how your partner likes to be touched. 

Hand jobs aren't one-size-fits-all, which is why it's helpful (and hot) to ask your partner to masturbate and narrate while you watch and take mental notes. What speeds and rhythms do they use? How much pressure? Ask them to tell you what feels good, both as they touch themselves and then as you try—opening that conversation will show them that you prefer (gentle) guidance to guesswork.

7. The HJ is too dry. 

Yes, some people enjoy dry hand jobs, but in most cases, a little lube is appreciated—it reduces friction, meaning more fluid and fewer jerky motions. "Silicone or hybrid lubes [as opposed to water-based] are the easiest to use when giving hand jobs because they last longer on the skin, making it easier to continue stroking without having to stop continuously to reapply lube," Cyn tells Cosmopolitan.com.

8. There's foreskin involved and you're not sure how to deal with it. 

First things first: never yank the foreskin back—every foreskin is different, but forcible retraction can be really painful and even tear the foreskin. "Depending on how large the foreskin is, the head may even remain covered when the penis is fully erect," Ligon says. "If they like it, you can focus on giving the head a lot of indirect pressure through it, and move it slightly. Many people with foreskin masturbate by rolling it along the head gently." She adds that because the foreskin reduces friction, people with uncircumcised penises may not want you to use lube. The cardinal rule is to ask what feels good to the penis-owner.

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9. You're anxious about getting your partner to come. 

Remember that this doesn't have to be the end goal of everything you do. "If you want to give your partner a treat, tell them to lay back for fifteen minutes and just let you touch them," Sloane says. "Make a mental file of the ways your fingers create powerful reactions for them. Once the fifteen minutes are up, you can move on to other things, or trade places and let them touch you." This technique gets rid of performance anxiety for both of you and gives you permission to explore your partner's body.

10. You're ending the HJ too soon. 

When they're about to orgasm, keep doing what you've been doing, and then slow down gradually as their orgasm subsides. "They'll tell you when to stop if you keep going too long after their orgasm," Shibari says, "but most people appreciate you slowing down to match the post-orgasmic slowing of their breathing and heart rate rather than just letting go immediately after they pop. Be there for the whole ride, and they'll feel as though you are right there with them rather than just fulfilling a chore." (Nothing's less sexy than chores.)

11. Neither of you is sure where the semen should go. 

It's super helpful to talk this out beforehand, and there are plenty of options: Your partner can ejaculate into tissues or napkins that you keep by the bed, onto themselves if they like, or into your mouth or hands/onto your body if you like. A quick check-in before you start will help you avoid sticky sheets.

12. You're not prepped for the ensuing mess. 

If you place a warm, damp washcloth nearby before the act, Shibari points out, the two of you can relax after your partner comes instead of them feeling like they need to sprint to the bathroom as soon as they're done (or without you feeling like you need to, if your partner came on you)—you can wipe each other off and relax for a moment instead of running out of the room.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.