When I was in my early 20's, I had a small collection of vibrators that I carefully hid in my dresser. Back then, the toys were all jelly and delightfully toxic, but I didn't know the materials were bad for me. I just knew that if I wanted an orgasm, that was the fastest way to make it happen.
Using my hands to touch myself still felt foreign, so I relied on my vibrators to get me off.
It never occurred to me to bring the toys into sex with my partner at the time. All of my friends (and Cosmo) made it pretty clear that if you were in a relationship, then penetrative sex (or in our case, since it was a lesbian relationship, fingers and dildos) was the pinnacle experience.
Masturbation was only for when my partner wasn't around or if I wasn't satisfied. Vibrators were a joke for tired, married moms (Parenthood) or women who couldn't find great sex anywhere else (Charlotte from Sex and the City).
Sex with my partner and sex with my vibrators served two distinct functions.
Interestingly, I had a sex toy business while I was in that relationship. We spent hours each week repackaging vibrators and filling orders.
I counseled thousands of women on how to introduce a toy to their bedroom, helping them to find ways to talk to their husbands and partners so that it wouldn't be threatening, and yet...I never once considered bringing a vibrator into sex with my own partner.
Toys now play a major roll in my sexual encounters. My current partner loves incorporating them into our time together, as well as times when we're apart.
Part of it had to do with finding a partner who was as committed to my pleasure as I was, and part of it had to do with me realizing that I am the champion of my experiences. If there's something I can do to make sex more pleasurable, more interesting, or more adventurous, it's up to me to advocate for myself.
So many people that I talk to worry that there's something wrong with them or their lover if they need a toy or aid to orgasm.
Only 25% of people with a vulva consistently orgasm from penis-in-vagina sex.
Even more interesting, lesbians regularly experience more orgasms than heterosexual women - 74.4% compared to 61.6% of the time.
Why? Because most vulva owners need clitoral stimulation in order to get off. And one of the easiest ways to achieve that is with a vibrator.
But orgasm shouldn't be the goal of sex. Pleasure should be.
If you are going for maximum pleasure, what would that look like? If you unapologetically declared, "This is what my ecstasy looks like", what would you ask for or try?
For many people, pleasure comes in the form of toys. Whether it's a vibrator for your clitoris, a cock ring for your penis, a butt plug for some delicious ass play, or a strap-on for pegging or even double penetration, all of it is normal and healthy.
Because your pleasure? It really matters.
But, how do you ask a partner if you can bring a toy into the bedroom?
First, realize that there's nothing wrong with you or your sweetheart if you want or need something else during sex. Our bodies are deliciously diverse, and they're changing all the time. Toys help bridge the gap between what you want and what your bodies might be able to do.
You are normal.
Once you come to terms with what you want and need (because it has to start with you), often then you worry about offending or discouraging your partner by asking for something different.
Any partner worth their salt will want you to have a great time during sex. Of course, because they want to please you, they may also feel insecure or scared that they aren't satisfying you. That's where the defensiveness can come in.
When you ask to incorporate a new toy or technique, remember to make it about you and not your partner.
It all comes back to remembering that you deserve pleasure AND that you're a team. You aren't responsible for your partner's feelings, but approaching the conversation as a fun adventure is empathetic and kind.
As equal partners who are both eager to have a great time in bed, it's easier to make it clear what you want and how it will set both of you up for success. Be specific. Be clear. And make the ask.
Here are a few suggestions for starting the conversation:
"Honey, I just bought a new vibrator. I'd love to try using it together the next time you and I are having sex. Maybe we can take turns holding it and see what kind of trouble we can get into? The thought of you inside of me while that vibe is on my clit really turns me on."
"I read about how cock rings can help me stay harder longer, and I've experimented on my own. I'd love to try it with you because I think it would be a fun experiment. How would you feel about trying that with me?"
"I've been curious about trying some anal, so I got a beginner's butt plug. I'm dying to know what it feels like to wear the plug while you fuck me. On our next date night, are you up for giving that a try?"
Of course, the way you say something matters a lot.
If you make it playful and flirty, then it helps take some of the pressure off of the conversation.
It's not about your partner being a failure, it's about you wanting to explore your pleasure.
It's OK for you to feel awkward or shy when you have the discussion, too.
If you and your sweetheart don't have open conversations around sex, or if it's been a long time since you tried something new, it's going to take a leap of faith to be vulnerable and ask for what you want. Just remember you're worth it.
Another way to make it easier is to eroticize the toy and the way you bring it into your time together.
If you pull your vibe out and just say, "Here," your partner might feel like they're at a loss.
But if you show them how you use it on yourself, if you buzz it along their body, if you slowly lube up the butt plug with a playful wink, it will feel more like an invitation rather than a demand.
Toys, aids, props, and costumes can be an incredible addition to your sexual repertoire.
Invite yourself to adopt a curious, open approach to incorporating them into the bedroom.
Because toys will die in the middle of sex and cock rings may get stuck in public hair and a butt plug might shoot out when you're riding your partner.
As long as you're in the moment and embracing what happens rather than chasing the expectation of an ideal, then you'll find you have a lot more fun and connect with each other at a much deeper level than ever before.
One last thought - if you bring up toys and your partner reacts poorly, it's OK to give them space and then have a conversation about their reaction. If your partner shames you in any way, you are within your right to tell them that's unacceptable.
Your pleasure is your responsibility, so advocate for your needs and know that you're completely normal if you need toys to experience your best sex.
Work with me
Are you ready to explore your desire and unleash your sexual self? I'm here to help.
From one-on-one coaching to my bi-weekly Sex is a Social Skill group calls and my DIY workbooks, there are a number of ways we can work together to support what's next for you.