You Need Help: My Girlfriend Really Wants Me To Strap-On But I Don’t Want To

Q:

So, my girlfriend really, really wants me to wear a strap-on for sex — we are both cis women by the way — and I may have recently insinuated to her, after at least a year of refusal, that I would do it…

But every time I think about it, I feel uneasy. I feel really… connected (?) with my body, and my sexuality and my gender, and I’m obviously struggling to phrase this but — it feels I would be at odds with myself and my gender and sexuality if I were to pretend my body is different.

I know that a strap-on isn’t a penis and that having a penis doesn’t define your gender, but I also know how important it is for one’s body to affirm their gender in whatever way is right for the individual, and I feel a real fear when I think about doing this because it feels the opposite of affirming.

As a cis woman though, do I even get to critique what may or may not be gender-affirming for me? I’m wondering what other queer folks think and feel about this, what the latest philosophies are that might apply. How to not feel sick to my stomach at the thought of a dildo hanging from my pelvis, and how my girlfriend and I might proceed.

We’ve been monogamous to date (vaguely discussed whether or not we would be under different circumstances but mostly due to COVID it was never a serious consideration) but I think I would even be supportive of her fulfilling this sexual desire outside of our relationship, but I don’t think that’s what she had in mind…

A:

What’s up babes, thx bunches for writing in. Okay, lets break this up!

Do you have to strap your girlfriend down?

No, you don’t. I guess right from the top I wanna say that you don’t have to engage in any sexual act that you don’t want to. You’re having a very visceral reaction to the thought of it so — just don’t do it. Just because you’re having a strong reaction to it also doesn’t mean that there has to be anything like, major, behind it. It could very simply be that you don’t want to because you are very comfortable in your body/gender/sexuality, and putting on a strap-on would make you feel, well, not that.

I think that we have been taught by lotsa folks (especially when it comes to sex) that if you don’t wanna do something there always has to be a very big Freudian meaning behind it when that doesn’t always have to be the case. Not everything has to be a deep dive and sometimes your feelings about doing something sexual can be mad cut and dry and this feels like that.

You don’t wanna do it cos’ you don’t like how it makes you feel when you think about doing it and that’s that on that babes. Even if you may have mentioned wanting to do it in the past, you can take it back. You also mentioned you said you’d do it after a year of refusal, so idk, maybe you said it to sorta make the pressing of the matter stop for a bit?

That’s okay that you did that, and I think you did it/said it cos’ you didn’t wanna hurt your girl by telling her a firm “no,” many folks I’m sure can say they have done that. But now it’s back and you should have a chat about it (for real, for real this time) so you can wrap it up and work on figuring out a solve.

Does this make you a bad girlfriend for not strapping her down?

You didn’t ask this but I thought I’d address it. You aren’t a bad partner for saying no to participating in a sexual act that you just don’t want to. I think explain it to her as best as you can without overwhelming/traumatizing yourself. If your girlfriend is the sensitive type (like me) you can (but don’t have to) sprinkle in bits about how this has nothing to do with her, that you are very attracted to her, you still want to fuck her into oblivion, that you care about her sexual needs, and etc — but this one you just don’t wanna do.

She should respect that and then you can be like “But wait there’s more!!” (if there is) and get into the solve of it all.

Do you get to critique what’s gender-affirming for you?

Yes, always. You mentioned your cis-ness, and I think you are wondering this in comparison to perhaps trans or enby people who may not always feel at home in their bodies. But you don’t have to compare yourself babes. You’ve recognized your privilege but like, it’s fine to be comfortable and relish in your body, no one wants you to be out here just mad at yourself for loving yourself and the body you have — at least I don’t.

What are the solves?

Well, you may not need one! After you tell your partner how you feel about it this time and lay it all out, shorty could be like “OMG baby this ain’t even a big deal like that and we can have lotsa other kind of sex and like STRAP-ON WHO? NEVER HEARD OF HER!”

But what if she doesn’t? You said y’all are monogamous but you’d consider her getting this particular fulfillment outside of what y’all got going on. That’s a big deal, and I’d hate for you to do that without considering your own feelings cos’ maybe y’all don’t have to go that far. If when it all comes down to it (and y’all don’t vibe with the things I’m gonna suggest below) then make sure to really chat that through. Opening up in any way is a big deal and it’s one I’m not well versed on but lucky you, we got lotsa resources for you to check out and read up on here on Autostraddle dot com! I will say tho’ if you do go this route I’d try to remember to keep your feelings in it too and not just throw them aside for the sake of making your partner happy — I think the fact that you even wrote in shows how considerate of a partner you are so I know your partner knows that too!

You talked about how some of what you don’t like is looking down at your pelvis and seeing the dildo — how does looking down at your thigh make you feel? Maybe you and your girlfriend can try a thigh strap-on, I dig them cos’ the access to each others bodies is pretty dope, the views are incredible, and also it’s less intimidating in many ways for some folks. Some people feel like strapping is really intimidating cos’ of the body movements and, they aren’t wrong! It’s a lot of work!!

But with thigh harnesses, you can still show off and not have to worry about movements that may be foreign to you. You can sit down on the couch and she can ride your thigh (facing you and away from you — THE VIEWS!), you can lay down and she can grind on it while she touches and tastes you, or you can stand up, rest your knee on the bed and she can back up into it like crazy while you hold her shoulder with one hand and touch yourself with the other — just some sex tips within the advice.

So anyway, I really hope this helps and I’m sending you good vibes and can’t wait for an update.

Good Luck QT,

Shelli Nicole


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


We keep Autostraddle majority free-to-read, but it isn't free to create! We need YOU to sign up for A+ to help keep this indie queer media site funded. A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year. If you can, will you join?

Join A+

Shelli Nicole

Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-raised, Chicago-based writer. Her work has appeared in Bustle, HelloGiggles & Marie Claire. She is terrified of mermaids and teenagers equally.

Shelli has written 178 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. Ohmygosh can I also second thigh harnesses or even just experimenting with knee and thigh pressure?! I have a physical condition which makes my lower abdomen sore, so knee/thigh (even forearm!) stuff was a pleasant surprise to discover.

    I’m really grateful to have a gf that is compassionate towards my physical and mental needs. Of course it still takes communication to get on the same page, but it makes the physical connections so comfy and fun.

  2. This is great advice!! I also found myself wondering if OP also doesn’t use any other toys in bed for the same reason, or if this is a unique feeling she has about strapping? If that’s how she feels about things other than straps, I wonder if she might be feeling some insecurity that her partner really wants pleasure in this new way/from a toy (something I felt when I started using toys!) that might explain it.

    And if it’s unique to strapping, it would also make me wonder whether there are other feelings she has (like being stressed about doing something new, or having some internalized shame that makes it feel icky, or feeling insecure that her partner will like this more than other acts OP likes better) that’s getting in the way of trying this activity. I’ve definitely felt some or all of these things in the past!

    So anyway, just based on my own experience, a quick plug for the idea that, in the end, trying new things that our partners want doesn’t necessarily have to be about feeling affirmed in our bodies, it can also just be simply trying something new to make the person we love happy. And while obviously there doesn’t have to be some underlying reason for any aversion, just in my own experience, sometimes there is!

  3. What a lovely question and a lovely answer. And I think this world would be a much better place if more cis people, like the woman who submitted this question, would take real time, thought, and energy into evaluating and interrogating what feels true and authentic for their own wonderful cis-ness. This made my heart smile.

  4. I definitely don’t think anyone should have to do anything they don’t want to or feel uncomfortable doing and I think the advice given is wonderful. But I did want to share my experience because I started out with similar feelings about wearing a strap.

    I hated the idea too and when I pictured trying it out I just felt awful and gross and ugly. It also brought up more feelings I associated with internalized fatphobia and overall discomfort with my body. I also identify as a femme and I think I was worried that somehow I couldn’t or shouldn’t because of that?
    I eventually had a partner, though, who was very into being penetrated and I started by holding a dildo in my hand and that felt good and exciting. So I was willing to give a strap a try (thankfully we already had a multi-size harness so I didn’t have to buy something expensive). I had to get used to wearing it alone, first, and yeah it still felt weird and uncomfortable and it was still awkward when I wore it with my partner the first couple times.

    After a couple times, though, especially once I got to experience how much my partner enjoyed it, the discomfort went away. I’ve had other partners since, and there is an initial period of awkwardness for me but I think that’s more about just new partners and new sexing can be a little awkward. It’s turned out to be pretty fun and I’m glad I gave it a shot. I doubt I’ll ever be like a total top who jumps at any chance to strap but it was worth trying it out and exploring that for me.

  5. I’ve never for a second thought a strap-on meant anything about my gender, I’m a cis lady and I love my straps so much, it’s among my favorite ways to give pleasure. The thigh harness is definitely a good idea if she’s having issues with the idea of mimicking heterosexual hanky panky.. but there is nothing more lesbian than fucking your girl with a strap, im sorry, that’s a law.

  6. I am going to put a different spin on this. I am a victim of child trauma (by men) and resulting lifelong PTSD that has ruined my life. I want nothing to do with anything that resembles a penis either using or having it used on me. Personally I never saw the point in it.

  7. I should be working on my piece of music for which I use my computer (incidentally I’m listening to “Atlas”, an opera by Meredith Monk – the work is nothing short of amazing, BTW) and the word Autostraddle flashed across the screen. So, here I am; I have ADHD, so I’m easily distracted.

    Anyway this piece was lovely to read, the generosity and sensitivity of QT towards her Gf still entitles her to feel what she feels. Your loving and affirmative answer along with a couple of things to think about was sensitivity enshrined in typeface.

    I’m not in a relationship at the moment and have never strapped or been strapped. But after reading some stuff during your strapping week, I think I’d be willing to try, even at both ends of the strap. The articles suggested that it was nothing to do with adopting a male role, but another way to enjoy lesbian sex. I think my only redlines would be that the dildo should not look like a realistic penis and and no oral with it.

    I’ve no idea whether or not it would suit me but…

  8. Amazingly written advice. I have some other suggestions, like having her gf use the dildo on herself as she interacts in other ways, or if she is cool with it, being ridden on her tummy while her gf is using the strap on herself. Those might not feel quite so body-outline-changing, and they’re hot as hell!

  9. Hang on, she’s been pressuring you for A YEAR to do a sex act you told her you don’t want to do???? That’s…. deeply unacceptable. One ‘no’ is plenty. Two is more than enough. Asking a third, fourth, fifth, sixth time gets into badgering and trying to wear you down and that is not the stuff healthy, respectful sexual relationships are made from.

    A YEAR?????? That’s a red flag visible from the International Space Station.

    • Thought I was done being mad. Not done being mad!

      I’m a bisexual cis woman in a lifelong committed monogamous relationship with another cis woman, after a decade-plus of dating/hookups all over the gender and sex spectrum. There are some sex acts that I quite enjoy that just aren’t going to happen for me anymore. Some of them are due to the various specific genitals my partner and I have. Some of them are due to what my partner does/doesn’t want to do.

      Which I respected. The first time she told me. Because sex with my partner is sex with HER, something we do for mutual pleasure and intimacy, not sex with an automaton whose sole purpose is to please me in precisely the way I want. If I started repeatedly pressuring her into doing XYZ when she really doesn’t want to, I’d be treating her like a sex bot with parts I could swap in and out at will, instead of like a whole beautiful human person that I love and respect, with her own boundaries and preferences and ways of delighting/being delighted.

      Your girlfriend really wants to get strapped down. Tough shit. It’s either so important that it’s a deal breaker for the relationship, something that can change the terms of the relationship (if you are genuinely okay with that, not just because you’re tired of being bothered) or it’s something that she’s going to have to live without. Any middle ground where she tries to change YOU and pressure YOU into doing things you don’t want to do is bad news for you and shitty behavior on her end.

      I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I hope she gets her shit together. You deserve better.

  10. Hiii, I came here from the sex themed Advice Box column because everyone was talking about the thigh harness that is linked here. But it seems like the link is broken maybe? What is the harness called, I’m curious?

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!