How to Introduce Sex Toys Into Your Relationship
Because whipping out a dildo in the heat of the moment is definitely *not* the way to do.
If you've already used a sex toy with a partner, you *know* why (hello, blended or better orgasms). And if you've incorporated sex toys into your solo sex play, you can probably deduce that partnered play + sex toy = Wowza. (Related: 13 Masturbation Tips for a Mind-Blowing Solo Session)
But if you've never used sex toys before, the prospect can be intimidating, to say the least. Maybe you're worried about offending your partner or that they won't be into it, or you think the toy you want to try feels taboo.
Whatever the reason, you don't need to worry, assures sexologist Alicia Sinclair (she would know, she's the CEO of COTR, Inc. the manufacturer of not one, not two, but three sex toy manufacturers: b-Vibe, Le Wand, The Cowgirl). "Often, the main concern is that the sex toy could replace the partner, or could be 'better' than your partner," explains Sinclair. "But that fear is unfounded. There is no replacement for live, human contact." (See More: The Scientific Benefit Of Human Touch—and How to Get More of It No Matter Your Relationship Status).
Rather, the purpose of sex toys is, "to increase connection and pleasure and add to the partnered experience, not detract from it," she says. "Toys are sexual enhancements, like chocolate sauce or sprinkles on ice cream."
Still, the question of how to go from wanting to introduce sex toys into your relationship to actually, you know, introducing sex toys into your relationship remains. That's why we tapped top sexperts to offer you this step-by-step guide. Here, five ways to help you broach the topic.
1. Breathe, baby—It's NBD.
First things first, you need to know that what you're proposing is totally normal—and not a big deal. "It's completely normal to want to add sex toys into the bedroom, to want to experiment with someone you trust and/or love, or even to need a sex toy to reach orgasm," says clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs, Ed.D. So, odds are pretty good your partner has been wanting to suggest the same thing. (Related: The Real Reason You Can't Orgasm During Sex)
That's why Megwyn White, somatic sensuality guide and director of education at Satisfyer (the company responsible for my fave vibe ever) emphasizes the importance of not amping the conversation up, and, in turn, psyching yourself out. "Remember that this isn't something that you're asking your partner to do for you, exactly," says White. "It's mutually beneficial! It's something you can both enjoy."
2. Don't wait for the "perfect" time. There isn't one.
Friendly PSA: There's no right or wrong time to bring a sex toy into the mix. "There is no duration you need to have been with your partner before introducing a sex toy, there is no prescribed amount of times you need to have had sex with them before introducing toys," says Stubbs.
Some partners will want to introduce a sex toy immediately, while others may wait years, and still, others may never have the desire. For instance, if wearing a strap-on dildo is gender-affirming for your partner and is one of their (and/or your) favored ways to get it on, you might agree to introduce sex toys early on. (See some tips about using a strap-on.)
On the flip side, things like menopause or taking antidepressants can drive down libido and make it more difficult to orgasm, so this may be the first time you ever considered bringing a sex toy into the bedroom. Every couple is different. (Related: How Often Most Couples Really Have Sex)
Bet you knew this step was coming. Whether it's anal sex, phone sex, or watching porn together, before you try something new in the bedroom, you and your partner need to talk about it. Why? Well—and apologies or the clap-talking that's about to happen—but if you're not comfortable talking about something outside the bedroom, you're not in a place to be trying that inside the bedroom. (Related: 8 Common Communication Problems In Relationships).
If you're nervous, try some phrases in advance. Navy Bastiaans, sexual health manager with O.School suggests keeping it neutral. 'What do you think about trying X or Y together?' Or 'Hey, what did you think about that Broad City scene?' (Note: If you haven't seen Broad City, just know it's a sex scene we're talking about.) "This is a great strategy if you are worried about being judged or feeling nervous to bring it up because you have no idea how they're going to feel," says Bastiaans.
You might also try saying, 'I'd love for us to look at toys together to enhance the sensations for the both of us.' Or, 'I love when we have sex and I think it might be fun to try a toy together', suggests sex and relationships educator Sarah Sloane, who has been teaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001. Or, if you're interested in using something like a vibrating cock ring or vibrating harness, you could say 'I'd love to try something you can wear.' Again, make it clear that it's not about replacing your partner, but experiencing something new together, says Sloane.
If you'd feel more comfortable having the conversation without the face-to-face component, sexologist and STI-educator Emily Depasse, host of the upcoming Sex, Coffee & Social Justice podcast says text or email is a fine, casual approach. "Whether it's embarrassment or uncertainty, writing things down through a text message, you help you get the conversation started," says Depasse. She suggests that you might send them a story on sex toys (i.e. The Best Sex Toys On Amazon, The Best Vibrators to Use with a Partner, or The Best Anal Sex Toys) and along with a note such as, 'Stumbled across this article. I think it could be really hot to try one of these together when you're inside me' or, 'My friend told me she and her partner tried the third one on the list, I'm so intrigued...is that something you think could be hot?'.
The key is to frame the conversation—and yes, this should be a conversation, not a statement or argument—around both partners' pleasure. "Keep the dialogue raw, real, and vulnerable," says White. "So that it doesn't seem like you're simply just telling your partner that this is what you plan on doing." Instead, emphasize that this is for both of you. And "allow your partner to also share their questions, thoughts, and concerns if they have them." Remember, pleasure, not pressure. (Read more on one sexpert's tips on how to talk to your partner about what you want in bed.)
4. Iron out the details.
With so many different types and categories of sex toys—butt plugs, vibrators, strap-ons, dildos, clit suction toys, vibrating cock rings, etc—on the market, at some point, you're going to have to get specific. Now's the time to talk about what really turns you on, and what you want to try. (Related: The Best Positions for Using a Vibrator During Sex)
While some of this may happen organically when you're shopping for your sex toy (more on that below), but it might be a little awkward if you've been fantasizing about a long dildo, while your partner is envisioning a butt plug, says Sloane. "Opening the door of toys will allow you to talk about all different types of toys," she adds.
You and your partner might check out The Ultimate Guide to Buying Sex Toys for the 411 on the differences between the types of toys.
5. Finally, go shopping.
On the same page as your partner? Cool. Next up: purchasing said toy.
Online and in-store shopping are both great options. "It comes down to the particular people and their personality and comfort levels," says Depasse.
"The benefit of going into a store is that the employees are trained to answer any and all questions you might have about a particular product, which may make it easier to find a product that works for you," she says. Don't worry, whatever question you have, they've been asked before, promise.
Another benefit to IRL sex toy shopping? "It'll be easier to figure out what texture, material, and vibration patterns you like, if any," says Depasse. Stores have tester toys out, so you and your partner will actually be able to hold them and press all their buttons, and compare them to other toys.
That said, the benefit of online shopping is that you can do it right from home—say, in your jammies or lingerie. "This may make it more comfortable for folks who are shy or more hesitant," says Depasse. In that case, online boutiques like Babe Land and Wild Flower (which BTW, recently released the first-ever gender-free vibrator, Enby) offer a well-curated selection of toys. (Related: The Best Sex Toys for Women On Amazon)
You might consider hitting up Amazon for customer reviews. "Reviews can help you better understand what you're getting," says Depasse. "Just remember that one person's experience with the product may not be yours."
Pro tip: Add some lube to the cart, to make your first time using the toy even better. Just remember that silicone-based lubes can degrade the integrity of silicone-based toys, so make sure your new purchases are compatible. (Related: How to Use Lube—and How to Pick the Best One for You)
But, what if your partner isn't receptive?
The truth is that you can't, nor should you ever, force someone to have sex in a way that isn't comfortable or appealing to them. "If you're in a healthy relationship, hopefully you'll know where their aversion comes from," says Sloane. "Is it past trauma? Fear of stigma? Because it's something new? Because they feel threatened?"
If your partner isn't game to try something new, you may have to consider how important that "something" is to you. And, whether or not your partner's rigidity around experimenting with sex toys is reflective of a larger issue in your relationship. Or, if it's simply personal preference and something you can live with. "If it's really affecting how much pleasure you're experiencing, or your ability to trust your partner, it could be a deal-breaker," says Sloane. (Related: 6 Ways To Tell If You're In An Unhealthy Relationship).
And hey, you can always treat yo'self to a mind-blowing solo sesh, where sex-toys are always invited.