Updated: Aug 22, 2022
The first time I ordered a sex toy I was 19. It was a vibrator from Good Vibrations in San Francisco. I can remember not knowing really what I wanted but scanning their pages for days until I got up the courage to place an order.
The first time I went into a sex shop it was also in San Francisco in the Castro district. I went in to peruse with a friend who ended up leaning on a massive carved dick accidentally while the shop owner asked if he was looking for VHS cleaner. We were very confused why someone would need VHS cleaner from a sex shop. Oh so young an naive!
Now, I walk into the stores to chat with friends, see what they carry, and look for new and unusual toys with the same feeling I have walking into a book shop. But it took time to get there. If you are new to the whole sex toy thing, here are some tips!
Getting Everyone On Board
So, you want to add a toy or two to your sexy time? Yay!!!! I am all about the toys. However not everyone is so fond of incorporating non-flesh attachments into sex. In fact, there are a lot of people who are really uncomfortable with sex toys! My current partner is one of those people
Before you bring new toys into your play, talk to your partners to see how they feel about toys. Some people will be all excited and gung-ho to go. Others may be tentative. Some may be outright opposed. Find out where they stand before you show up with a new toy.
How do you do this? Ask. Its pretty simple. Depending on your communication style and level of comfort, you can simply ask during a conversation how your partner feels about adding a toy. Or text. Or email. Or however you clearly communicate. The more specific you are, the better. Asking “how do you feel about sex toys” may get a different response than “How would you feel about using nipple clips on me next time we have sex?”
Many men, especially heterosexual men, often find vibrators and dildos a turn off during sex. Even my partner sees them as competition (you can hear him talk about it here). He is much less opposed to things like ropes, handcuffs, feathers, and sensation toys. Being specific about what I want to bring into our intimate time helps me gauge how he feels about a suggestion.
If your partner is opposed, respect that. This is something they are not ready for. If you feel up to it, you may want to explore where the resistance is coming from. Ask what is it about toys in general or a specific type of toy the oppose. Many times I have found a person may have a general opposition to sex toys because of stigmas but are okay with specific types of toys. If they are open to a specific type of toy this is a position to begin negotiating so both of your needs get met. If they are against all toys, you may have to forgo the use with that partner until they change their mind (which may never happen).
As with anything related to sex, if your partner is not okay with sex toys and have not consented to using them, respect that boundary. Cajoling or trying to shame them into using a toy is an asshole move. If using a toy is important to you, have the conversations you need to find out what the objection is and if there is a way to find a compromise.
Selecting a Toy
Once your partner is on board with adding toys the fun begins! You need to figure out what toys will work for you. Now you get to enter the overwhelming world of gadgets, gizmos and doohickies designed to add to your sex life!
Fantasies: Some of us have fantasies around a specific type of toy. It may be a fantasy of being penetrated vaginally while wearing a butt plug or it could be wearing a cock ring during a blow job. Or anything really. If you have had a fantasy that includes a toy, this is a great place to start!
Specific Stimulation: If you are just curious about toys in general but don’t have a fantasy to go off of, start by thinking about what stimulates you during sex. Are your nipples highly sensitive? Do you like a little light spanking and crave more? Do you enjoy surprises? Things that get you hot and bothered can give you clues to the toys to explore.
If you really enjoy nipple play, things like nipple clips and clamps, suction devices, and sensation toys (eg., fur mitts, feathers) can all be used for stimulation during sex. If you enjoy penetration, dildos and ass toys can be a good place to start. If you like the feeling of being out of control or surprised, consider a blindfold or handcuffs.
Porn: If you watch porn look at the toys they use which excite you. Do you find yourself drawn to porn where someone uses a bunch of clothespins? Do you enjoy cock and ball torture porn? Does pegging intrigue you? Those are all clues as to what toys you may want to start with!
There are more options for sex toys than the mind can fathom! Want a dildo? They range in size from very small to things that verge on being traffic cones. Colors? Any you can imagine! Materials? Silicone, crystal, rocks, wood, glass, metal, and more! Realistic or fantastical? Smooth or bumpy? Can you freeze it or heat it for play? Sometimes, yes! Seriously, the options are pretty endless.
Take some time to look at toys and read reviews. There are a bunch of amazing toy reviewers on line. Here are a few of my favs:
Get a general idea of what you think you might like, then go shopping!
Get Out of the House!
I am a huge fan of good brick and mortar stores. A good proprietor and knowledgeable staff are worth more than most online reviews. They can help you find something close to what you are looking for, make recommendations, advise on use and any possible health concerns, and help you pick toys that are right for you.
Most medium and large cities in the US now have decent sex shops. Look for one locally owned and operated. If they offer sex ed classes and community events, its a pretty good bet they have knowledgeable staff. Avoid the cheap chains that will sell any old thing regardless of body safety.
If you don’t have a good shop to get too, check out reputable sex educators and reviewers online. They will link you to the good spots to buy your stuff so you don’t get some janky toy that will give you a UTI.
So you have your new toy at home! Now unwrap it and clean it. Like everything made in factories, it isn’t ready to be used until its cleaned. Boil most dildos in hot water or soak in a 10% bleach solution and then rinse well and allow to air dry. Same with butt plugs and other insertables. Wipe down nipple clips and other external devices with alcohol swabs or toy cleaner before use. Make sure your new purchase is ready to go!
Play With It
Depending on what you bought, there may be instructions. If so, read them. Some of the new toys out there are quite complicated. Some are pretty self explanatory.
Don’t assume you know how it works! Sure, some toys are pretty self explanatory. However, there are a lot that it is worth reading about the proper use. Any of the blogs mentioned above have various tips on toy use. You can also check out things like on-line pegging instructions, proper preparation for butt play, and information on how long you can leave nipple clips on without causing damage to them.
Once it is clean and ready, use your toy! Hopefully it adds a bunch of fun to your next sexy time. If not, think about what didn’t work for you. Did it not fit right? Was it hard to turn on? Did it feel awkward to use with a partner? Did you find it became a distraction?
Sometimes it just takes practice to get a toy to work for you. Sometimes the fantasy was better than the reality. Either way, you know what you like or don’t like about a given toy. So now, on to your next fun adventure!