For lovers who want to provide their partner the gift of augmented pleasure, there are a few things to keep in mind. Sex toys can make great gifts—and they can add an incredible dimension to both solo and partner sexuality. But before you start shopping, read this quick guide...and make an informed decision.
We’ll start with a cautionary tale:
CLIENT: He told me he got me something that would relieve my stress and help me relax. I was thinking like, a massage or a weekend trip for us or something.
SEXTHERAPIST: But it wasn’t?
CLIENT: No it was a huge, like three-prong vibrator you operate with a phone app.
SEXTHERAPIST: And you didn’t like that?
CLIENT: Oh my god, I threw it across the room. It freaked me out.
SEXTHERAPIST: And then?
CLIENT: And then his feelings were hurt and I told him I felt all shriveled up inside and that my lack of horniness lately sure as hell didn’t have anything to do with needing another vibrator.
SEXTHERAPIST: Tell me more.
CLIENT: Well we got in a huge fight...
*Note: Client anecdotes used with permission
In general, surprising your partner with a sex toy isn’t a particularly good idea. Though it may seem thoughtful and exciting, it can have consequences or send messages other than what you intend.
You may not know, for example, whether someone has been harassed at work, or perhaps triggered by something during the day. You can’t know whether they’ve been struggling with their emotions—nor can you predict whether the surprise of unwrapping an unexpected sex toy might cross the wires of unrelated sexual wounds that so many people carry.
Days later, that client told me she eventually tried the new sex toy and really liked it. But her initial horror at opening her much-anticipated birthday present and seeing a multi-armed power-tool shocked her system into a fight or flight response—which can easily lead to a blowout relationship fight.
Instead it’s important to approach sex toy gift giving from an empathetic viewpoint, taking into account context and timing as well as understanding and preference.
Sex toy preference is highly individualized
Everyone has their own turn-ons and turn-offs when it comes to sex toys. And different toys serve different functions, from solo sessions to partner play, from discreet to powerful.
Unless you’ve heard your partner coveting a specific toy, you’ll need to know the answers to a few crucial questions before you shop. Otherwise you run the risk of getting your partner a sex toy they won’t use.
Does your partner like:
Vibration (not everyone does)
Penetration and/or external stimulation
Girth or streamlined
Glass vs silicone
Smooth vs contoured
Flexible vs rigid
Erogenous features (clitoral, g-spot, anal, etc)
If you know what sex toy features your partner prefers—or hates—you can then narrow your choices based on how they plan to use it.
You can’t return a sex toy
For obvious reasons, stores won’t accept returns of intimate products. That means you better know all your measurements. Inside and out. Physical and mental. Because there’s nothing sadder than a dusty unwanted sex toy in a drawer somewhere.
Even worse than wasting money, your partner may feel obligated to use your gift even if it’s not a good fit for their preferences. For a first-time toy user, that might even turn them off sex toys indefinitely. Which would be a crying shame.
And you never—repeat never—want to make anyone feel obligation when it comes to sexuality. Shared or solo.
Discuss your sex toy gift idea beforehand
To undercut any problems, simply tell your partner you want to get them a sex toy and ask them what they like and don’t like. Spend some time together reviewing the options. Make it a date. Let yourselves get titillated by the thought of all that future pleasure.
For all you know, they’ve been dying for you to ask them about sex toys. For all you know, they’ve been worried how you’d respond to their desire for augmented stimulation. The only way to find out is to ask.
Sex toy options to consider:
Power and speed settings
Size and shape
Additional features (e.g. thrust, rotation, heat, “ejaculation,” etc)
If you already have sex toys, you can bring your discussion to the bedroom and play with what you have—figure out what’s good and what might be missing. For some partners, researching sex toys together can be its own foreplay.
If you’re new to sex toys, read all the reviews and consider starting with something simple and unembellished, as an introduction to the infinite fine art of mechanized pleasure.
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