Updated: JANUARY 11, 2024

Grinding is rhythmically rubbing the genital area against a person or object for sexual pleasure. People often grind on their partners on dance floors or other public or semi-public places. When used in this context, the term grinding refers to contact with erotic intention while both participants are fully clothed.

Although direct, unobstructed contact of the genitals never occurs, people may orgasm through grinding. Some people may prefer the diffused sensations of grinding to the more intense stimulation of skin-to-skin contact.

Grinding With Toys and More

Grinding can also refer to masturbating by moving the hips rhythmically. Clothed participants may grind against an object like a pillow, stuffed animal, or couch. As the popularity of grinding rises, multiple manufacturers have crafted vibrating and non-vibrating toys for grinding, such as the Orion VibePad 2, Rocks-Off Ruby Glow and Wildflower Enby.

Sex furniture is also perfect for grinding on. People can straddle this furniture and enjoy how it supports their bodies as they grind. If grinding escalates to sex, this type of furniture helps couples feel comfortable while trying a range of positions.

Why People Engage in Sexual Grinding

While grinding is often considered an act for horny teenagers, people of all ages can enjoy it. Grinding is a good way to stimulate the clitoris and the penis, especially if uncircumcised, so many people find it pleasurable far beyond their teen years. Grinding can also indirectly stimulate the G-spot, as it places pressure on the pubic mound.

Grinding can occur during foreplay or instead of sexual intercourse. People who are abstaining from sexual intercourse may grind with their partner to feel closer to them. Grinding can also be a great activity for those who are avoiding sex temporarily.

Some people say they like grinding because it allows them to give and receive pleasure while keeping their clothes on. Grinding can help people feel more confident during their period, as they can give and receive sexual pleasure without worrying about any mess. It can also help transgender people avoid gender dysphoria and conversations about their genitals they’re not ready for. People with fabric or clothing kinks may also enjoy grinding, as it is a way to stimulate their genitals with the materials or garments they're turned on by.

Grinding can also help people with various sexual issues have more satisfying sexual experiences with their partners. People who have difficulty orgasming during penetrative sex may climax when grinding. Grinding can also help people who experience premature ejaculation delay their orgasms, as their penis only receives indirect stimulation.

Some people engage in grinding because they want a safer alternative to intercourse. While it’s relatively safe, grinding can still cause pregnancy or transmit STIs, especially if the participants have stripped down to thin underwear or removed their underwear entirely.

How common is grinding?

There are limited studies on grinding, so it’s difficult to determine how many people participate in this activity. However, the OMGYES project, which surveyed tens of thousands of women about their sexual habits and pleasure, suggests grinding against objects is very widespread and rarely discussed. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they discovered grinding before they were ever intimate with a partner, with 46% saying they’ve rubbed against their mattress. While this practice is common, more than 80% said they’d never told anyone they participated in this activity.

"I think grinding is so taboo because it’s one of the 'lesser known' or less 'normalized' masturbation forms. It’s a type of masturbation that essentially has very little to do with what we as adults associate with 'real sex' or penetrative sex," explained Cassie Mørch, a sex and kink expert at "I think there’s also an adolescent element to that taboo. Grinding on pillows, mattresses, or even the edges of our seats was how a lot of people started self-pleasuring from a very early age. So, some people have engaged in this kind of masturbation at such an early age that it even seems wrong to call it masturbation. Grinding, I think, has been one of the most common ways to explore the basics of one’s body, genitals and what feels good where, for the first time. At that age, it’s easy to feel like you’re the first one to ever discover this feeling or technique, and alienation and shame can easily set in."

The OMGYES project found grinding on soft ridges, like the edge of a mattress or the arms of a couch, was the preferred grinding technique, used by 18% of respondents. For 16% of women, the pressure of grinding against hard surfaces, like bed posts or the edge of tables, was the most satisfying. Finally, 13%t of respondents said they preferred lying face down and grinding against flat surfaces, like a mattress or floor.

Other Words for Grinding

Grinding is also known by the following names, although each term may involve slightly different activity or have a different connotation:

  • Grinding the corn
  • Frotting
  • Humping
  • Dry humping (grinding while clothed)
  • Dry sex (grinding while clothed)
  • Scissoring (grinding while unclothed)
  • Tribbing (vulva-on-vulva grinding)
  • Broadening (grinding that uses wide pressure to stimulate the clitoris)
  • Outercourse (along with other non-penetrative sexual activities)
  • Heavy petting (along with other non-penetrative sexual activities)

More About Grinding

Grinding Ideas

Experimenting with grinding can be great fun. Couples often grind from a standing position. They might stand facing one another or in a spooning position, where one person presses their front against their partner’s back.

They can also grind when one or both people are lying down. Someone might straddle a reclining partner and grind against their leg, their torso, or their face. Both partners can also grind lying side-by-side facing one another.

Taking a traditional lap dance position is another alternative. For this option, the receiving partner sits and the giving partner straddles them and grinds against them.

These tips and tricks can also spice up a grinding session:

  • Wear different clothes, from lace or satin underwear to denim jeans, to vary the sensations.
  • Apply lube for smoother skin-on-skin grinding or inside underwear for clothed grinding.
  • Stimulate personal erogenous zones - your own or your partner's - with hands and mouth.
  • Wear a butt plug for anal stimulation.
  • Hold a vibrator against the genitals while grinding with a partner.
  • Wear a cock ring for extra stimulation and help with maintaining an erection.
  • Put a vibrator inside a pillowcase for an intense grinding session with a pillow.
  • Grind with a partner outside the bedroom in rooms and places they wouldn’t expect.
  • Grind with a partner in public places to fulfill exhibitionist urges.
  • Vary the position, angle, and speed of grinding.
  • Grind with a partner in alternative directions, rather than moving together, to increase clitoral stimulation.
  • Use ordinary cushions or a sex pillow to support the body for an extended grinding session.
  • Role play as teenagers or virgins abstaining from sex.
  • Improve the atmosphere with soft lighting and music.
  • Grind on a submissive partner as a part of BDSM-style teasing, edging, or orgasm control play.

Latest Sex Positions

View More Positions More Icon