11 Sex Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Explore Strap On Play

11 Sex Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Explore Strap On Play

If you’re curious about strap-on sex, you might be nervous too—not because you think it’d be bad, but because you don’t know how to use a strap-on. I don’t blame you. Having sex with toys often isn’t as intuitive as using your own body, and a free-flying appendage where you’re not used to having one can 

feel especially unwieldy. The first time I used a strap-on with a partner, I was so self-conscious about my awkward technique that I didn’t try again for like a year.
Luckily, a learning curve is completely normal when it comes to using a strap-on. With practice, communication, and the right equipment, you can soon be thrusting and grinding like a pro. To help you feel more confident trying strap-on sex and upping your strap game, I asked sex toy experts and strap-on enthusiasts alike how to use a strap-on. Here are a few to keep in mind when you don your harness:

1. First, come prepared.

There are a few boxes you want to check before you dive into strap-on sex. First things first, you want to make sure you have the right equipment. Which strap-on you use can make or break your experience, both from a comfort standpoint and from how easy it is to use. This guide outlines some of the things to look for when buying a strap-on and includes product recommendations.

Also, if you’re using a strap-on to experiment with anal play for the first time, there are ways you should prepare, which you can read about here. And no matter how you plan to use your strap-on, lube is always a good idea (just make sure it’s compatible with your dildo of choice—silicone lube degrades silicone toys, and oil-based lube can damage latex condoms, so water-based lube is likely a safe bet). Beyond that, there are a few important things to know about safety and partner communication before using a strap-on together, and you can find those pre-sex tips here.

2. Wear the strap-on around before using it.
It really helps if the first time you wear your strap-on isn’t during sex. You should give yourself time to get familiar with what it’s like to wear a harness. “It’s going to feel weird at first,” Ashley Cobb, founder and host of Sex With Ashley and sex toy reviewer, tells SELF. “Wear your harness around the house as you do non-sexual activities, such as washing dishes or watching TV. The more comfortable you are with it on your own, the easier it will be to use it with a partner.”

3. Watch videos of people using strap-ons.

Yep, as in porn. “Especially amateur videos,” Maggie L., 31, suggests to SELF. If you’ve never used a strap-on before (or even if you have), it’s incredibly useful to see them in action. You might pick up on little techniques, see ways people get creative, and generally demystify the whole ordeal. Which is why amateur porn is the way to go—real sexual partners are far more likely to have actionable takeaways than professional performers who may have techniques that look good but aren’t actually enjoyable.

4. Use your hands to control it.

Sure, one draw of using a strap-on can be that it allows for intimate, hands-free activity, but that doesn’t mean the toy will always do what you want it to. “A strap can be less easy for the top to control than a flesh cock, so if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid use your hands to adjust the toy so it’s hitting properly,” Lisa Finn, a sex educator and brand manager for Babeland, tells SELF.

5. Try strap-friendly positions.

Your first few tries using a strap-on aren’t going to be the time to get super wild when it comes to sex positions. Stick with basic positions that feel comfortable and leave you room to adjust the strap-on with your hands if necessary, like on all fours, missionary, or standing beside the bed while your partner lies on its edge. “Your partner can always ride you if you’re having trouble maneuvering your strap,” Lily A., 22, tells SELF. “Finding what feels good and feels natural always takes some experimenting.”

For anal in particular, Cobb recommends having the receiver start on all fours too. “This is one of the most common pegging positions,” she says. “On the bed, couch, or wherever, you get on your hands and knees and have your partner enter you from behind.” She also shouts out lying on your stomach as a similarly newbie-friendly pegging position.

6. Stop worrying about what you look like.

This is easier said than done, I know, but you’re not the only one getting distracted by what you look like wearing a strap-on harness. For one, sometimes the positions and moves that feel good aren’t exactly picturesque (as with any sex act), so you should be cool with looking “unsexy.” And if looks inspired you to buy a specific kind of harness that turned out not to be the most effective, you might find prioritizing function over aesthetic might make you feel more confident in the long-run anyway.

“I wish I spent way less time worrying about what the harness was going to look like,” Suz W., 24, tells SELF. “Stop trying to find a sexy harness! It’s a harness! It’s inevitably going to look a little bit like you’re going rock climbing. The harness is sexy when my partner wears it because my partner is sexy.”

7. Ask your partner how it feels.

This is obviously something you should be doing anyway (communication!), but it can be particularly helpful when using a new toy. Especially a toy you might not have total control over.
“One thing I learned very early on is that I’m terrible at judging how deep I’m going when I’m using a strap-on,” Spencer W., 25, tells SELF. “My poor partner put up with a lot of low-key stabbing. But it’s not like a hand, where you can kind of feel where you’re at. Go slow and check in along the way.”
Same goes for the receiver, by the way. “If something feels uncomfortable, say something,” says Finn.

8. Don’t be afraid to practice thrusting.

Hey, we’re not going to judge you if you want to finesse your strap skills with a little training (just like we definitely won’t judge if it takes a while to find your rhythm). “I’m not embarrassed to admit that I humped some pillows early in my strap-on days,” says Lily. “It helped me get in the zone and figure out the different ways I can roll my hips. Also it was basically masturbating, so win-win.”

Speaking of, don’t forget grinding. “Speaking as a bi woman, I can say people of all genders forget that penetration doesn’t just have to be going in and out and pounding away,” says Spencer. “Roll your hips and grind that strap.”

9. Experiment beyond penetration.

Penetration is a large draw of strap-ons, if not often the main one, but there are other erotic ways to use them. “I love getting ‘blow jobs’ from my husband,” Melissa R., 28, tells SELF. “It felt silly at first but it turned out to be really hot. Once I started thinking about my strap-on as ‘my cock,’ we got more and more ideas of how to play with it.”

Just make sure you follow best hygiene practices when you experiment. Most importantly: If you’re going to switch holes—such as from anus to mouth—wash the dildo, change condoms, or swap out the dildo entirely.

10. Explore different kinds of strap-ons.

There’s a whole world of harnesses out there that allow you to strap a dildo to, well, most parts of your body. Thigh harnesses, chin harnesses, knee harnesses, hand harnesses, and more can all be unexpectedly enjoyable additions to your sex toy collection.

“My partner and I got really into a thigh harness and use it almost as much as our regular one,” says Lily. “When I wear it, my partner gets the penetration she wants and I can grind on her leg. We get a lot closer with it than our other harness. Then a hand strap is great for fucking her with a dildo without my hand getting sore from gripping the base.”

Lily suggests the Bondage Boutique Leg Strap-On Harness ($25, lovehoney.com). Unfortunately, her favorite hand harness (the La Palma by SpareParts) is super sold out, but you might want to try this simple leather Knucklefucker Hand Harness ($44, etsy.com) instead. Total sidebar: Etsy is an awesome place for gorgeous indie harnesses in general.

11. Be down to laugh at yourself.

This is another golden rule of sex that is especially helpful to keep in mind when experimenting with strap-ons. You have to be able to embrace the inherent comedy of the situation and roll with it. “It always feels a little silly and awkward trying something for the first time, but that goes away quickly and the benefits are so worth it,” says Suz.

Similarly, it’s okay if you find out that strap-ons aren’t working for you—either during that specific session or at all. “Remember that it’s just a fun addition, and if it doesn’t go as planned, you still have hands and mouths,” says Maggie.
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