If You Don’t Like 69ing, You’re Doing It Wrong

How to turn a "better on paper" sex position into an "actually very hot IRL" sexual experience

June 9, 2022 7:03 am
Image shows red 69s on an orange background.
Gabriel Serrano for InsideHook

Of all the sex positions, 69 has perhaps the most iconic and least flattering reputation. Most of the time when people talk about 69, it’s a joke — typically a pretty adolescent one that amounts to little more than simply acknowledging the existence of the number 69 and giggling. (To be fair, these jokes almost always land, but that doesn’t mean they’re good, per se.)

When we do talk about 69ing seriously — or at least as seriously as anyone can talk about a sex position that has been reduced to a puerile joke — it’s usually to suggest that 69 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Like shower sex and road head, 69 is one of those novelty sex acts that is usually written off as better in theory than it is in practice (unless you’re Ariana Grande).

To be fair, there is a lot working against it. While mutual oral pleasure seems like the perfect compromise in theory, in practice it often ends up the way most compromises do: with neither party getting what they actually want. The position — which tends to involve a lot of neck straining and awkward crouching — can be physically uncomfortable for one or both partners, and even if your’re a top-tier multitasker, it can be hard to focus on receiving pleasure while giving it. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. While 69 may seem like a pretty straightforward position with little room for alteration, there’s no sexual rulebook that says you have to perform it in a specific way or risk disqualification from the 69 Sex Games. “It’s important to remember that all sex positions are merely ‘suggestions,’ not ‘rules’ for achieving satisfaction,” says Angie Rowntree, sex expert and founder of ethical porn platform Sssh.com. “So by all means, always feel free to adapt and modify for optimum pleasure.”

​​As with any sex position, a little modification for personal pleasure and comfort goes a long way, and there are plenty of small tips and tricks that can turn this better-on-paper position into the blissfully filthy, mutually satisfying 69 experience of your horniest dreams. 

Try the sideways 69 

The first time I ever tried 69, I was 16 on the floor of my parents’ living room with my high school boyfriend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t quite the earth-shatteringly satisfying sexual experience I’d foolishly expected. We did it the old-school, woman-on-top way, and — crouched on all fours with my ass in the air and my genitals smushed up against the guy’s face while I tried to stretch my 5’3” frame over his 6’4” one, I couldn’t help but feel a little exposed and rather over-extended. With all the distractions and discomfort, I couldn’t focus on my own technique, and I sure as hell wasn’t in a position to be experiencing any physical pleasure of my own. 

The next time I could be persuaded to give 69 a whirl wasn’t until 5 years later (on a bed in an apartment, like an adult this time). I was prepared to assume the standard position, however self-consciously, when the guy surprised me by putting me on my side instead. I didn’t really know what was happening, but I figured it had to be an improvement. As it turns out, it was, and that day I learned that simply turning 69 on its side is probably the easiest fix for any 69-related problem that ails you (or your partner).

“If you find the typical ‘man on the bottom, woman on top’ 69 position to be uncomfortable or awkward, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ‘69 on the side,’” says Rowntree. “Ideal for lazy afternoons in bed, lying side-to-side to explore and mutually pleasure each other can democratize the experience for couples of all genders and sexual orientations.” 

But while sideways 69 may be the easiest fix, it’s far from the only option for those looking to modify the divisive position. You can 69 standing, you can 69 squatting, you can 69 man on top, you can 69 each other’s assholes… you get the picture. If you can think it, you can 69 it. 

Still, there’s no need to get too creative with your modifications if, say, literally holding your partner upside down in front of your genitals isn’t your thing. Sometimes, simply moving to a different location can help. “It doesn’t always have to be one person on the top and one person on the bottom in the bed,” says Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert for Lovers sexual wellness brand and retailer. If the bed is boring or uncomfortable, Stewart recommends seeking out a lounge chair, or even throwing it back to high school and 69ing in the passenger seat of your car. 

Use toys

As is true of all sex all the time, incorporating toys can greatly improve the 69 experience, and no, it’s not cheating. 

“There are no ‘69 judges’ who are going to bust in and disqualify your oral skills if you want to supplement them with your favorite rabbit, pocket rocket or vibrating cockring,” says Rowntree. 69 with toys is still 69; a vibrator or dildo won’t sully the sanctity of mutual mouth to genital contact, I promise.

Incorporating a penetrative sex toy (or using your fingers) can enhance the experience for your partner, and also provides a pretty nice view if you’re the partner on the bottom in a traditional 69. If you’re someone who gets turned on by watching penetration, being the bottom partner in a penetrative 69 is one of the best seats in the house.

You can also use a vibrator or oral sex simulator to supplement your own oral activity if you get tired or want to focus on your own pleasure for a bit, or you or you partner can use one on yourselves. According to Maureen Pollack, Co-Founder and President at Lovability, there’s nothing wrong with blurring the lines a little between 69 and mutual masturbation. After all, she says, the main premise of 69 is that both partners are receiving pleasure; it doesn’t really matter where that pleasure comes from. Again, there are no rules; you’re an adult, you can 69 however you want.

Don’t worry about who comes first (or at all) 

Another common problem people have with 69 is something we might call a pleasure imbalance. While the whole point of 69 is for both parties to be receiving oral pleasure at the same time, it rarely pans out that way. More often than not, 69 plays out as something of a see-saw effect, in which the partner giving the most pleasure receives the least, because their lucky partner is too busy enjoying themselves to hold up their end of the bargain. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter. While the yin-and-yang vibe of mutual oral sex tends to make us think of 69 as a synchronized event that should end in the ever-elusive simultaneous orgasm, you’re only setting yourself up for failure if that’s your end goal. In fact, there really shouldn’t be an end goal at all. As is true of all sex all the time, 69 is “about the journey, not the destination,” says Rowntree. Putting pressure on yourself or your partner to orgasm will only take you out of the moment and make it harder to actually achieve that goal. 

“Don’t stress about climaxing at the same time, or feel like you ‘fail’ if your partner just happens to be so good with their tongue you lose all focus on your end of things,” says Rowntree. “Do not feel pressure to make 69 (or any sex act) into a synchronized event. Regardless of who climaxes first [or at all] the important thing is you’re both here to give and receive pleasure, period.”

In other words, if you come first, great! If you partner comes first, congrats, you’re probably great at giving head. If neither of you comes, that’s also totally fine. Like literally any other position, there’s no reason 69 needs to be a self-contained sex act. You can just 69 each other for a while until you get bored or someone’s neck hurts and then move on to some other carnal act. 

Despite the bad rap, 69 can actually be really hot. If you can get past the potential inconvenience, discomfort and jokes, it’s a pretty erotic position at heart. It’s all about two people getting their faces all up in each other’s business — a beautiful union of mouths and genitals for which there is truly only one word to describe: nice.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.