There’s a camera positioned underneath a desk, where a woman in dark stockings and a floral dress sits in an office chair. Slowly, she stands up and slides her panties off. Sitting back down, she crosses her legs and starts rocking back and forth, subtly grinding her thighs against her clit. Squeezing her pelvic floor muscles tight, she repeats the motion for just over a minute. Before you know it, she’s managed to cum.
Delve deep into Pornhub and you’ll find a handful of videos like this one, aptly titled “Syntribation Diaries: Secretly Masturbating At Work.” All these women have to do is cross their legs and grind a little to get off — no dick, sex toy or fingers required. It doesn’t have to be with their legs crossed either; “syntribation” basically just means stimulating yourself hands-free.
It might sound like the name of a weird science technique, but syntribation is actually pretty popular. There’s a 5,500-member-strong subreddit dedicated to the art of cumming cross-legged, and the internet is awash with articles dedicated to describing how it’s done. It’s not as horny as it sounds, though — according to these often stressed-out syntribators, cross-legged cumming is both a blessing and a curse.
The first thing to know is that plenty of us jerk off this way without even realizing it. Across the subreddit, it seems most people discover they can syntribate at around 11 years old — innocent kids simply cross their legs, wriggle around a little and feel a nice, unfamiliar jolt. “I was sitting at my desk studying and I wanted to fit my crossed legs under the desk when this intense wave of pleasure washed over me,” one poster writes. A handful of others discover the method a little later in life — a few months ago, a 25-year-old woman went viral on the r/Sex subreddit when she posted: “I just realized the other day that I can orgasm by just squeezing my legs together. Has anyone heard of this before? Am I just a freak of nature?”
Well, no. Grinding anything against your clit can feel pretty damn great — it’s why dry-humping is so wondrous. What difference does it make if what you’re grinding against just happens to be your own thigh? Guys can do this too, apparently — trapping your hard dick between your legs and moving them up and down to simulate a jerking-off movement is almost guaranteed to get you off. It’s nothing new, either: According to the 1976 Hite Report (a nationwide study of female sexuality), three percent of women said they masturbate with their legs crossed, indicating that these syntribates have been rocking, grinding and squeezing their way to orgasms for decades.
So, why do people feel like “freaks” for these cross-legged orgasms? Put simply, once syntribation becomes your norm, it becomes seemingly more difficult to cum in more conventional ways, which can raise issues in the bedroom. “When my boyfriend fingers me, I’m moaning and my body tenses up, but it’s never the same as crossing my legs,” laments one syntribator. “How can I get it to that level?”
There are plenty of solutions, the first of which is to just be honest with your partner. Mutual masturbation can be way hot, so sprinkling a little syntribation into the mix might work. Plus, your partner can keep a fist between your legs as you grind, or maybe you can grind on each other — after all, it’s the friction that makes syntribation feel so good. Squeezing your partner’s head between your legs — with consent, of course — might do the trick, too. Experimenting with sex toys can also be handy — many syntribates share glowing reviews of clit stimulators, discovering the wonders of rubbing up against a vibrating wand.
This can work with penetrative sex as well. “You can have sex in a spooning position (inserting the penis from behind) or finger her from behind,” one guy advises. “She can have her legs crossed for both of these if she’s laying on her side. Either you or her can touch her clit in this position or you can use a vibrator, or she can just squeeze, whatever she wants.”
Not everyone can orgasm this way, though, and if the Hite Report is anything to go by, it’s actually pretty rare, which explains why so many of these cross-legged cum connoisseurs feel so weird and left out. That said, while some unconventional masturbators share their stories in the r/Syntribation subreddit to make each other feel better — and find solutions to their unique plight — others embrace it wholeheartedly. “I love that I’m able to do it, they’re the most intense orgasms ever,” writes one woman. “I’m 61 and I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old. I’ve got no plans to stop — it keeps me young!”