Whether you’re married or in a new relationship, there’s always room to spice up your sex life. But often times it’s easier in theory than in practice—especially if you’re looking to bring sex toys into the mix. “Some people are afraid of offending their partners, but this fear is mostly unfounded,” says Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D, a sexologist based in Toronto. “Research indicates that both men and women are comfortable "sharing" their partners with battery-powered devices.” So why not bring it up with your partner? Below, we’ve confronted all the awkward issues so you don’t have to. Here are seven tips for breaking the sex toy barrier.
1. Realize that it’s not uncommon. “The whole stigma that’s attached to sex toy stores is gone,” says Lora Somoza, a Los Angeles-based sex columnist, author and host of the weekly Between the Sheets radio show. “You need to know that whatever is giving you any hesitation in the first place is completely in your mind.”
2. Know how to approach the topic. Somoza suggests saying things to your partner such as, “I read somewhere that this is something women like,” or “Our relationship is great, but I want to think about ways to improve upon it. Is there anything you want to add to our sex life?” For those who prefer a more passive method, there’s nothing wrong with leaving a “surprise gift” on the bedside table to initiate intimacy—as long as you already have a gauge of your partner’s sentiments about it.
3. Buy online. If the thought of walking into a sex store gives you anxiety, try browsing for items online. “You can do it your PJs or birthday suit from the comfort of your living room,” recommends O’Reilly. “Check out online retailer, Ohhh Canada —my clients like them for their expertise and customer service.”
4. Do your research. If you’re ready to make your way to a sex shop but unsure of what to buy once you get there, plan ahead. “Read reviews online first, so you know what you're looking for when you arrive in-store,” says O’Reilly. “I also suggest checking out one of your ‘sex-positive’ stores.” A sex-positive store has an open-minded attitude that emphasizes healthy and pleasurable sexual experimentation. Find one in your area through a simple Google search. “These shops are couple-friendly and their staff are also sex educators who welcome your questions and have reviewed many of the products themselves,” she says.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson for help. “You have to remember that nothing shocks them. It’s a judgment-free place,” says Somoza. She shares a personal experience as further proof: “I’ve gone in and seen a 78-year-old dude and his 35-year-old girlfriend buying a strap-on… and the employees yawn. These people have heard everything. Nothing shocks them!” To cut the awkwardness of asking for help, Somoza suggests saying things like, “We’re looking for some sort of couples toy. Can you point us in the right direction?”
6. Get over the idea of being replaced. Both Somoza and O’Reilly note that often men worry introducing a sex toy like a vibrator into their sexual repertoire will replace them. “The mass majority of women do not climax from vaginal intercourse, so clitoral stimulation is key,” says Somoza. “If you’re with a woman who doesn’t, you have to get her a vibrator. She’ll thank you for it.” Alternatively, O’Reilly suggests selecting a toy that you can use together. “There are items on the market designed specifically for use during intercourse. The new We-Vibe stimulates the G-Spot, the clitoral head and the penile shaft. It even comes with a remote control, which my clients seem to love!”
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. They’re just toys! “Be able to laugh at yourself. Fear, or the fear of being rejected, is always the biggest downfall when it comes to this kind of thing,” says Somoza. “We’re not talking about cancer or war in the Middle East. We’re talking about amazing, pleasurable sex. We’ve been playing with toys since we were kids—these are just toys for adults!”