The Intimacy Doctor shops for sex toys

The Two Main Characters in Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ are Woody and Buzz

Clearly This Was Intentional

Me: I need a catchy title for my column about sex toys.

Dan*: A dildo in hand is worth two in the bush?

Me: No way! Two in the bush is waaaaay better!

My poor fiancé really took one for the team when he asked me to marry him. Because any semblance of having a normal life was all shot to hell from that moment forward. Recently, Dan* and I went sex-toy shopping together. Of course, I don’t sex-toy shop with just my own interests in mind, but want to check things about that clients may have questions about. I pull on silicone to see how much give it has, turn things on to see how loud/powerful they are, squirt different lubes and creams on my hands to see how they feel and what kind of film they leave behind (there is sticky in a good way and sticky in a bad way, after all!).

Hey, it’s RESEARCH.

Now, I can’t afford to buy everything out there on the planet and no company has shown any interest in sponsoring my world domination tour (but then, I’ve never asked … hey, Trigg Laboratories … call me!). And while I am not the least bit prudish, there are some things I have zero interest in trying out for myself. But knowing what toys are on the market? Totally awesome. On this particular trip, I found Bluetooth-enabled vibrating panties. Send shockwaves from afar? Quite possibly the most excellent idea for long-distance relationships that I have seen since Skype sex!

Now, I realize that almost the entirety of the rest of the world doesn’t have a job that requires sex-toy investigation, but there is nothing wrong with being a bit of a hobbyist.

Toy stores are not the dirty, shady, creepy places with sticky floors that they used to be. The one I drug Bob* to was clean and brightly lit, with helpful but not hovering staff. It was like the Target of butt plugs. And this is the norm, not the exception, nowadays.

First of all, I think using toys, props, and lubricants is very, very healthy. Of course my margins of normal are very wide (generally speaking, my only rules are “no kids, no pets”). I have worked with many people over the years who found using sex toys a very freeing experience. Single individuals have found that being able to satisfy themselves kept them from engaging in risk behaviors they were prone to otherwise. Couples experiencing difficulties (medical or otherwise) found that these items really made the difference in improving their sex lives and staying together.

And that’s what I aim to do.

The cool thing about the internet is the shopping privacy. You can check out websites, read reviews, and compare prices. I think getting an idea of what is out there is awesome. Check out BUST Magazine’s toy reviews, Dr. Ruthie’s Sex Info YouTube channel, and for starters. But there is nothing more awesome than the hands-on experience of checking out the selection at a brick and mortar store before you invest. Because “Wow, that thing is LOUD and the kids sleep in the room right next to ours” just saved you $150. You will also see plenty of stuff that you didn’t find in your online searches that may pique your interest (like the Bluetooth-enabled vibrating panties).

Maybe you buy something, maybe you don’t. But it opens up a new conversation with your partner, should you have one at this time, and within yourself.

I have worked with people who have considered the use of toys to be an admission of failure. I think nothing is further from the truth. Doing what it takes to make your sex life fun is the ultimate success, because it is such a fundamentally important part of being human.

When a client becomes a wee bit defensive (LUBE? We don’t need lube! Trust me, we’re good!) while their partner is quietly cutting their eyes at me (LUBE? We sooooo need lube!) my response is, “Awesome! You are already ahead of the game … so now you can make things REALLY fun!”

Because whether or not you actually NEED lube is sometimes the point, but not always. Fun is. Release is. Feeling good about yourself and your sex life is.

So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to check out a toy store. You don’t have to buy anything if that’s pushing things too far out of your comfort zone, but think about what you mabyeshouldthinkaboutalittletinybit buying. Someday.

Or, at least, start looking online. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure story out there. And there is great info to get you started. Like, don’t use a silicone-based lube with a silicone-based toy (it breaks down the silicone in the toy). Knowing that Wet Light, which is water based, instead of Wet Platinum might be your better bet (seriously, Trigg Laboratories, call me!) just saved you ANOTHER $150.

Tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount or anything, but Dan* will get that much more sympathy next time we roll in. And please, please, please … have FUN!

*Dan is clearly not his real name. Name changed to afford him some small measure of privacy, because really his name is Joe.

Follow Faith Harper, PhD, LPC-S, and message her your quandaries and questions, @TheIntimacyDr. Or email: [email protected]. Her column appears in each issue of Out In SA




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