~ AUGUST 2022 ~
When you hear the word “sex,” you probably start thinking about some form of penetration—and most likely, that penetration you’re imagining is a penis going into a vagina.
Well, let’s change your way of thinking right now. As a sex therapist, I like to use sex as a catch-all term for “a meaningful act of pleasure.” Does that say anything about penetration? No. Anything about gender? No. Anything about orgasm? No. Anything about specific body parts? No. There is nothing wrong with enjoying penetrative sex; it’s just not the only way to have sex.
There are so many benefits to non-penetrative sex positions.
Many folks don’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone. (For instance, a 2017 study in the journal Sex and Marital Therapy found that only 18% of vulva owners can orgasm exclusively from vaginal penetration.) So knowing some non-penetrative sex positions to physically connect, arouse, and potentially bring someone to orgasm is super important—and empowering. (Remember:
Also, when you’re a sex-positive human, it’s important to know how to explore your body and someone else’s body, and knowing other sexual activities besides penetrative P-in-V or P-in-B sex is crucial for that.
Plus, as a sex therapist, I’ve seen how issues like vaginismus, past trauma, and body or gender dysphoria can make penetrative sex feel uncomfortable or entirely unacceptable.
Keep reading for a list of 12 sex therapist-approved non-penetrative sex positions to get your motor running. These positions emphasize grinding, hand action, oral, making out, and other super pleasurable experiences.
1. 2 Peas in a Pod
How to do it: Sit side by side and turn your heads towards each other and make out. You can press your legs up against each other, touching each other’s heads, focusing on the kissing and sensations you’re feeling.
The benefits for pleasure: This is a very nostalgic position to make out in, and it’s fun and pleasurable to play with it as an adult. Whether you were in a movie theater or on your parents’ couch, it was often that you needed to stop making out and “look cool.” It will feel youthful in the best way possible and bring you back to the days of sloppy kissing.
2. Against the Wall Making Out & Feeling Up
How to do it: With consent, one person pushes the other person up against the wall and pins them there, kissing passionately and using their hands to feel all around their body. Decide beforehand if the person against the wall can use their hands too or if they’ll be held to the wall with their wrists.
The benefits for pleasure: Making out and touching each other is one of the most important sexual activities you can practice with a partner. The nuance of kissing is so beautiful, and the combination of kisses, tongues, and touches is going to get both of you all sorts of turned on. Also, if you’ve discussed any power dynamics, this is a great time to use them.
3. Bent Spoon
How to do it: Start spooning while the person in front/on the inside spreads their legs/lifts a knee at a 90-degree angle, while the other person starts playing with the bits of the person on the inside.
The benefits for pleasure: It’s hot, comfortable, easy, intimate, and wonderful for morning play before teeth are brushed. It’s kind of like the doggy style but laying down and feels great for different combinations of genders, too.
How to do it: Get into a spooning position with the partner who would typically penetrate on the outside. Put some good lubricant (like Royal or Cake’s) on the penis or other penetrating aid and slide between the inside person’s thighs. Thrust. It’s kind of like thigh f*cking. You can easily reach down to touch your own bits.
The benefits for pleasure: It feels like you’re having spooning sex, but there’s no penetration. It’s slippery, fun, and feels very playful while being titillating and pleasurable.
5. Person on Top
How to do it: Get into whatever you, in your relationship, would consider to be the old-school missionary position for penetrative sex (whether that’s anally or vaginally), but instead of penetration, start to kiss, touch, and see what feels good. You can do this with your clothes on or clothes off.
The benefits for pleasure: We’re all creatures of habit, so because this position is familiar to many of our brains, we can focus entirely on the sensations on our bodies. It’s an excellent position for fostering closeness, and you can choose to have eye contact or not.
6. 69 Oral Sex
How to do it: Regardless of your gender, figure out which person wants to lay on their back and who wants to be on top, laying their knees straddling the person on the bottom’s head. Start licking your partner’s bits (and adjust to line up your face). Communicate if you need your partner to move or change something.
The benefits for pleasure: A lot of people find this position to be awful, while others are very, very fond of it, finding the giving and receiving pleasure simultaneously electrifying. A benefit of the 69 oral sex position is that there are positions within the position. If being one on top of the other feels challenging, try this position laying down on your sides, aligning heads to genital areas.
7. The Cheeky Monkey
How to do it: Instead of penetrative anal sex, this position uses the cushion between the butt cheeks to provide a pleasurable sleeve. This is like “anal play light,” and don’t forget to use plenty of lube. The person who is going to lay down lays on their tummy while the person with the penis can face the feet or the head. While the person on top thrusts, the person on the bottom can touch themselves, too, if that feels comfortable.
The benefits for pleasure: Anal play is only complicated because we don’t have good sex ed. While it would be ideal for everyone to take a workshop on anal play, this type of “light” anal play is a fun way to see how it feels to have any stimulation in the area. And, if you’re someone who is an experienced anal sex person, this is still really fun, intimate, and feels great.
8. Orgasmic Vibrations
How to do it: Pick out a sex toy together that will remain external and that you’re both excited about trying. Pick a night to do it and try using it in different positions you’d typically have penetrative sex in. Don’t forget the lube!
The benefits for pleasure: One of the reasons to use a sex toy is the have it do something that the human body cannot. For example, a human tongue can’t flicker as fast as something with an on-button. A finger can’t vibrate at Hz level.
9. Peep Show
How to do it: One person sits up on the bed (wherever it is comfy), spreads their legs, and starts touching themselves while the other person gets on their knees beneath them. Watch how your partner touches themselves and how and where they enjoy it the most.
The benefits for pleasure: The Peep Show position is a turn-on for both people and can be educational too! In a mutual masturbation position, both people involved can get turned on by watching live porn—from their partner! Hot.
10. Riding Side Saddle
How to do it: One person sits down (ideally in a chair with no arms) as the other person straddles one of their legs. The straddler can grind if they are a vulva owner and if penis-owners can either touch themselves or have your partner touch you, almost like seated scissoring.
The benefits for pleasure: This is one of those positions that can be adapted in a bunch of different ways. What happens when you try this fully clothed? What about just in undies? And purely naked? What if you use lube? What if you don’t? There are so many variations, and it’s gender neutral.
11. Sit in My Lap
How to do it: Regardless of your gender, hand stuff is delightful. In this position, one person sits between the other person’s spread legs. Start touching your partner’s bits and ask them what they like and if they want you to speed up, slow down, or change the pressure or style.
The benefits for pleasure: This is an intimate position that allows for incredible pleasure providing. Also, it’s a very “I’ve got you” feeling as you nuzzle up in your partner’s legs.
12. Up and Under
How to do it: Get into a doggy-style position, but don’t penetrate. Reach your and under and up and start stimulating your partner’s bits!
The benefits for pleasure: When we pair a position typically associated with one thing and do another sexual thing, it plays with the brain a little bit. Also, if the doggy style is traditionally a challenging position for penetration, this will allow you to experience the position but with hand stimulation!
A version of this article originally appeared here on menshealth.com