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The Ultimate Guide to Sex Positions: Missionary

By Jayne Renault

Let’s talk about sex positions.

Whether you’re starting out with a new partner or looking to spice things up with an old flame, this series of guides is for you. 

And where better to start with the old classic: Missionary Position.


A sex position in which two partners lie one on top of the other while facing each other. This act often -- but not always! -- includes penetration

If missionary isn’t the most popular sex position, it’s definitely on the podium. We all have to start somewhere. Missionary is one of the most common choices for starting points. And as time goes on, it’s one of the most reliable to come back to.

The missionary position sometimes gets a bad rap for being boring or basic, but it has a lot going for it. Humans have been enjoying this one for as long as they've been having sex for a reason. Because a sex position doesn't have to be complicated to be good.

This position is fantastic for partners of any orientation to increase intimacy, connection, romance, and overall shared pleasure potential with one another. There’s something to be said for going back to basics, and there’s a LOT of room to get creative with this one.


A note on terms:

When discussing penetration, we use the terms “thrusting partner” for the person with the penis (biological or synthetic), and “receiving partner” for the person accepting the act of penetration (vaginal or anal).

It is important to note that being a receiver is not a passive, subservient role. It is an active, enthusiastic role. There is power in choice, and by choosing to invite their partner inside them, the receiver is exercising that power.

Furthermore, the thrusting partner is not just a giver. Of course, they also receive pleasure during the act. But for the sake of clarity and consistency, we have selected these terms for the two sides of the dynamic.


How to do it:

Typically, the receiving partner lies flat on their back with their legs spread comfortably. The other person lies on top of them. This way, they may face one another during vaginal or anal penetration. 

The thrusting partner tends to set the pace here as they have a lot of control over the depth and speed of their strokes. But that doesn’t mean the receiver can’t get involved -- they can gyrate their hips to meet the rhythm or grind into their partner to find a better angle or enhance clitoral stimulation.

The receiver may not have a lot of freedom to move their body under the welcome weight of their partner, but their hands are very free to roam. They can stroke down their partner’s torso, run their fingers through their hair, hug them close while kissing a little deeper. With the gap between bodies closed, there’s so much room for enhancing intimacy. Because small actions can have a big impact.

Reasons we love it:

- Thrusting partner can play with stroke speed and depth, while the receiving partner can let their hands tease and explore all over

- Super intimate

Eye contact throughout

Optimal full-frontal skin-to-skin contact

Lots of kissing


- Plenty of room for either partner to use their hands for nipple or clitoral stimulation

- Relatively easy to add a vibrator that compliments the fun

- Versatility -- so many ways to switch it up!

Variations to try out:

1. Receiver’s Legs Up

Wrap Around: Receiver’s wrapped legs wrapped around their partner’s waist

Awesome for receivers who like to exercise a tighter grip on their partner.

Flying V: Receiver’s legs up and wide

The thruster can hold on to feet, ankles, or backs of the receiver’s thighs to provide resistance throughout.

Lover’s X-ing: Legs up and ankles crossed

Great for receivers who like the sensation of squeezing their legs together to enhance pleasure and orgasm.

Legs On Shoulders: The receiving partner puts their legs up on their partner’s shoulders. To modify it, the receiver can move their legs down to their partner’s arms.

Awesome for really deep penetration and even deeper kissing.

One Leg Up: Raise one leg to open up for deeper penetration and a different angle. Flexibility permitting, the receiving partner can rest the raised leg on their partner’s shoulder or upper arm.

This position provides amazing access for a vibrator for clitoral stimulation on either (or both) partners.

2. Bridge

The receiver lies with their back flat and bends their knees. With their feet about hip-distance apart, they plant their feet into the mattress and raise their hips. The thrusting partner kneels and positions themself between the receiver’s legs, sliding in from there.

With the thruster on their knees, their hands are free to provide extra stimulation to their partner, manually or with a toy. They can also hold on to their receiver’s hips for deeper thrusts.

3. Side by Side

Flip the whole thing on its side! Both partners on lying on their sides, facing one another, for a lower impact, more intimate take on the classic missionary. No one is holding their body weight up here, so both are free to melt into each other. The receiver can wrap their top leg around their partner to give them better access and make for a deeper thrust.

4. Tabletop

The receiving partner lies back on a raised flat surface (e.g. mattress, sturdy counter, table...) while the thruster is standing. Play with leg positions, adding a pillow under the receiver’s lower back. Either partner can easily use their hands or hold a vibrator to add clitoral stimulation.

Other tips and tricks: 

- Put a pillow under the receiving partner’s lower back to raise their hips. This can reduce the strain on their lower back, as well as change the depth and angle of the thruster’s stroke.

- Kink it up a notch with some light bondage. Consider handcuffs or rope to tie down your receiving partner so they can surrender completely to the pleasure being offered to them. Make sure to set safe words beforehand and play responsibly!

- Penetration doesn’t have to happen. Missionary and its variations are just awesome for humping, grinding, teasing, and tribbing (vulva-to-vulva play without penetration)

- Don’t forget to play! Just because something works doesn’t mean you have to do that exact thing every time. Be open to the possibilities. You never know what you might discover about yourself or your partner when you allow yourselves to play without expectation.

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