Q: I just got into a new relationship and so far, it’s going well. One thing making me anxious is how to introduce my boyfriend to my EXTENSIVE sex toy collection. Before him, I was happily single for a long time and over the years amassed an impressive set of vibrators, dildos and other fun contraptions. I know toys aren’t just for single people, but I’ve never used them with a partner. How do I present this without making him feel like it’s a knock to his abilities?
First and foremost: A round of applause for your toy collection. What a delight. Whether partnered or solo, you’re all set with a curated collection of pleasure.
*cue “Little Mermaid” soundtrack*
You want thingamabobs?
I’ve got twenty.
Anyway. You’re absolutely right that toys can be used by couples or groups, as well as solo practitioners; and you’re also right that there can be a lot of anxiety about how various implements are introduced.
There is still a lot of trepidation around sex toys. Some folks are nervous about the vulnerability of using a toy in the presence of another person, some fear that it will make their partner feel inadequate if they “need” an auxiliary. Others feel awkward about not being immediately proficient with some new piece of technology. The presence of a sex toy can also put additional pressure onto a sexual encounter, as though the mission is to deliver an orgasm by the most efficient and powerful means possible.
“It was cool for ‘Sex and the City’ characters to talk about their rabbit vibes a decade ago, but owning an Autoblow II or Tenga eggs still doesn’t quite elicit the ‘self-care’ vibe.”
Some feel it’s less impressive to involve accessories, like it implies they’re less skilled. That’s wild to me. Look, I love watching Brad Pitt as a bare-knuckled fighter in “Snatch,” relying on nothing but a well-placed cross. But sometimes you’re in the mood for “John Wick” and watching a guy who truly knows how to wield a Glock…or a knife…or a pencil. You know what I mean?
Women are increasingly comfortable, thanks to a surprise alliance between sex-positive feminism and capitalism. Sex toys – especially vibrators – are largely marked to women, and advertising has increasingly leaned into notions of feminist empowerment. Since we routinely ignored the concept of feminine desire and the existence of the clitoris, even debating the “purpose” of female orgasm for most of western history, it’s a refreshing change to normalize taking control of your own pleasure.
Some guys feel left out of the cultural shift, though, especially when it comes to devices meant for them. It was cool for “Sex and the City” characters to talk about their rabbit vibes a decade ago, but owning an Autoblow II or Tenga eggs still doesn’t quite elicit the “self-care” vibe. That might be why heterosexual men are more likely to buy devices designed for use on their partners than themselves.
“Approach it like you’re getting him into a TV series. You wouldn’t plop down on the couch, turn on Season 5 Episode 7 and just be like, ‘It’s about this guy in advertising in the ‘60s. It’s good.’”
And that’s why the key to introducing your new boo to your treasure chest is going to be all about onboarding. Make sure that he feels like an active participant in the use of your arsenal.
Approach it like you’re getting him into a TV series. You wouldn’t plop down on the couch, turn on Season 5 Episode 7 and just be like, “It’s about this guy in advertising in the ‘60s. It’s good.”
It can start when you’re already getting it on – while there’s already some momentum – by asking if he’s interested in you bringing out any…accoutrements. Have a small number of preferred options already in mind, like a favorite vibe, something swatty that stings, a blindfold, maybe something small that goes in a butt. Too many options can be overwhelming, even if he’s super comfortable. Ask what he would like to do to you or have done to him and share what you have on tap to meet that desire.
Introduce the implement casually. Let it be seen, give a brief description of what kind of sensations can be expected. You don’t need to conduct a whole infomercial, but if there are multiple buttons or important safety information, convey that.
If he’s the one wielding it, balance out giving feedback and letting him play around. If you’re the one at the helm, ask if he likes what you’re doing, and make it clear how he can request more or less of something. Here’s the big thing: Your comfort with talking about it will put him at ease.
Another option is to start the conversation before you’re anywhere near the bedroom, just asking if he likes or is interested in trying something out. Most people like devices that do cool stuff and I strongly suspect it’ll get both of you fired up to take the ole Hitachi for a spin.
If, for whatever reason, he’s intimidated by the existing armory, maybe he’ll be down with picking out something new together. Discuss your respective desires and fantasies, collaborate on scenarios or stimulation that might be fun to explore for the first time together.
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