Hi Yana,

I started dating a girl recently who always wears really long nails. Like the type that are super pointy at the end and as long as her pinky fingers are (they are super cool!). After we started dating she mentioned something about thinking about cutting them, but I also remember her saying when we first met that they gave her a lot of confidence and were a huge thing that connected her to her persona and made her feel good!

I’m worried that the main reason she wants to cut her nails is so she can touch me and finger me, but I’m not sure if I feel comfortable with her changing this thing she loves about herself for me.

I told her that I felt that her nails were something I didn’t think she needed to get rid of, but something we could learn to accommodate. But I said that without really knowing how to go about doing that. I know that we can use toys but I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

Although it is of #1 importance for me to accommodate her, I also tend to feel a lot closer to people when we don’t use toys and I’m not sure how to navigate this. Do you have any advice?

Help Me Get Handsy


Dear Handsy,

As someone who’s been writing sex advice for almost a decade now, I used to rest on the repetitive ol’ rule that the only manicure that should get anywhere near a cervix (especially MY cervix) were those that were practically non-existent: short, blunt, and filed!

A couple of things have changed my mind about that advice, and all for the better:

Most importantly, a couple years ago a friend of mine reached out after reading this exact piece of advice I had written to graciously let me know that being manicure-phobic is actually racist! Long, lovely nails can be a huge part of femme expression in communities of color and my friend urged me to embrace the opportunity to not be another white voice perpetuating the idea that long nails are an unsavory barrier to queer sex. Noted and since corrected (thank you friend)!

Less importantly and more personally, I quit my fine-dining food service job (where I wasn’t allowed to wear nail polish), was gifted a manicure by my partner as a celebration of quitting that job, and some years later here I am with the nails getting longer and the manicures getting more elaborate. And no matter who I’m sleeping with I don’t. Wanna. Let. Go. Of. The. Nails.

Lots of other sex educators and writers have started circulating great advice about how to maintain the manicure without sacrificing the vaginal tissues. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Stuff cotton balls into the fingertips of her safer-sex gloves for both padding and a fluids barrier!
  • Double up on gloves to add padding without the potential bulk.
  • Sex educator & blogger Sugarcunt gave me this varsity level femme-fingering tip: “Vaginally, after slight warm-up, I cross my fingers on insertion, with my wrist and palm up. My fingertips overlapping keeps one nail tip against the pad of the other while I insert them, and I mostly just use G-spot and A-spot stimulation, so there’s not much thrusting in and out to risk scratching”.

Most painful cuts and scratches from fingernails aren’t generally inflicted because of the *length* of the nails, but rather by jagged chips, splits, and un-filed part of the fingernail. Most professionally manicured nails such as gels or acrylics are actually thicker, smoother, and less scratchy than naturally long nails.

Use lube, focus on maintaining contact with fingerpads rather than fingernails, and communicate about hand/finger positions that hit the spot pleasurably rather than painfully.

Finally, leave the option open for your new sweetie to make the manicure sacrifice based on the kind of F-ing *she* wants to do, if she chooses to do so. Between your thoughtful, accommodating nature and the combined advice of all these great voices, I’m sure y’all will nail it!

Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on  her website, yanatallonhicks.com.