Many people started their sexual exploration by humping or grinding. It’s so natural for humans to hump and grind without even thinking about it, it’s almost second nature. Toddlers will dry-hump just about anything and anyone; it’s all completely normal and an important step in early development. Humans need to explore those experiences to help shape their understanding of their own bodies and sexuality. Dry humping is also important for teenagers’ sexual maturation. It’s a way to build a “sexual repertoire” in terms of moves and figuring out what they enjoy and what they just don’t like. Grinding products may therefore provide some nostalgia, which can be comforting in a time chock full of uncertainty. It’s not unusual for people to feel comforted by memories of their youth — especially when those memories lead to an orgasm.
While sex toys made specifically for grinding are still relatively new to the industry, people have been humping and grinding on top of their sex toys for as long as sex toys have existed. While wand-style vibrators and hands-free vibrators have long been favored for this, saddles and grinding pads have helped folks explore new ways that all bodies and genitals can experience external pleasure.
These external and often textured products can appeal to many different kinds of people and are popular for their accessible and gender-neutral design.
What is grinding?
Grinding is rubbing or creating friction around the external parts of the genitals. Grinding can be any sexual activity where at least one person is stimulating their external genitals on something or someone. This means that it can be done solo, with a partner, using a pillow, the arm of the couch, one’s own knuckles — just let your imagination run wild. During partnered play, grinding can be genital-to-genital rubbing without penetration, with or without clothes. It can also be genital-to-thigh or genital-to-hip rubbing. Grinding has also been called outercourse, coital alignment or heavy petting. Vulva-on-vulva grinding is referred to as tribadism, aka scissoring.
Why does it feel so good?
For those who have a really sensitive clit and don’t want direct contact, grinding can be really great indirect stimulation. Grinding can provide a constant pressure that can be really pleasurable without being overstimulating. The G-spot is right under and behind the pubic bone, so putting pressure on the pubic mound and the clit and vulva itself can stimulate the G-spot and provide a new sensation.
Grinding also feels good for people with penises. What do a hand job, oral sex and penetrative intercourse have in common? They all involve rubbing and grinding. Especially for someone who hasn’t been circumcised, the rubbing motion of grinding can move the foreskin up and down the penis in a way that feels really good.
What are grinding toys, exactly?
Grinders, grinding toys, humping toys, saddles and riders are just a few of the names that have been used to describe this new and up-and-coming style of sex toy. Products under this category are designed for humping, rubbing and grinding against. These external and often textured products can appeal to many different kinds of people and are popular for their accessible and gender-neutral design. Many grinding products also come with a remote that makes it easier for users to control their devices from close range or incorporate them into partner play.
Grinding toys are pretty versatile. They can be used during partnered or solo play, as a warm-up toy or in combination with other types of sex toys. Many grinding toys feature ergonomic curves, soft textures and materials designed to accommodate the body rocking or bouncing against their surface.
Wetter is always better: Lube as an upsell
It’s called dry humping, but don’t take that literally! Silicone lube will keep things extra slippery if it’s just going to be skin-to-skin, while water-based may be when looking for a more natural feel or incorporating toys into sex play. Either way, we want things to slide and not cause customers the bad type of friction.
Add other sensations to the experience
Ask about what other sensations the customer might want to add. For instance, they might incorporate a butt plug, nipple clamps, a shorter G-spot dildo, a cock ring or even BDSM restraints. Basically, they should feel free to touch, stroke or vibrate whatever parts are open to stimulation. Blended orgasms, or orgasms that you reach from stimulation of multiple erogenous zones, are usually some of the most powerful climaxes, so encouraging customers to add layers of sensation may help them take their sex life to the next level.
Some grinding toys also work great with wands, such as soft non-vibrating grinding pads placed between the body and the head of the wand to add texture. A non-vibrating pad or mat can also be stuck on the back of a dildo worn in a harness, to give the wearer something soft and textured to grind against, or between bodies during scissoring to add texture and squish.
Lingerie with function
We don’t typically think of lingerie as part of the sex toy experience. However, different fabrics feel different on the skin, so lingerie with different textures can offer different types of stimulation and sensation when worn during play. Certain materials will work best for certain customers depending on their individual preferences. For example, denim and corduroy offer the most intense friction, just like any bottoms that have seams. While silk is best for an increased feeling of slipperiness, don’t forget about velvet, which can feel really plush to grind against. Stretchy leggings or sweats are probably the most accessible. These styles allow you to easily spread your legs and get into different positions.
Encourage your customer to make it a full-body experience. From lingerie to toys to the scents that fill the room, offer erotic possibilities to engage all five senses and create a smorgasbord of sensations during playtime. That way, helping them find the perfect grinding toy can unlock a whole world of pleasure.
Known as the Queen of Wands, Carly S. is a pleasure educator, author of the blog “Dildo or Dildon’t” and a self-described bad bitch from the Bronx. She is the buyer for Spectrum Boutique, runs social media for Nasstoys and recently launched Romantic Depot’s influencer program.