Toys Are for Us: How to Start Using Sex Toys with a Partner

For many, reaching under their bed and pulling out their used, dusty, never-washed Magic Wand while scrolling through Crash Pad videos is a familiar solo night in. However, when we add another person into the bedroom, the Magic Wand stays tucked away collecting dust under the bed. Using sex toys with partners can feel incredibly intimidating! There’s something vulnerable about asking for what you need or want, not just emotionally or physically but sexually. There’s a lot we’re taught in terms of what sexuality is supposed to look like, and how we should give and receive pleasure. Those lessons may include the idea that we aren’t supposed to “need” toys, especially not with a partner. Luckily, we get to deconstruct those sex and intimacy norms! We get to build it in a way that’s fun and pleasurable for us and not just act out some formula we’ve been fed since birth.

There’s a million reasons to use sex toys with a partner — variety! Adding a new sensation! Creating a different type of intimacy! Acting out a scene you’ve always fantasized about! Curiosity! Adventure! Fun! Accessibility! Playing with a new part of the body! Toys can help you orgasm! Kink can help you feel at home in your body! The butt is a wonderful part of the body! So many reasons.

I want to talk about HOW to have the conversation with partners about bringing sex toys into the bedroom as well as some tips, tricks and what to expect. At the end, I’ll address some of the reasons folks are hesitant to bring up sex toys with partners. It’s time to do that deconstructing, pals.

Talk It Out

First, like all good things, you have to TALK to your partner about wanting to bring a sex toy into the bedroom. A great way to communicate is to talk directly; however, I realize this can be easier said than done. After all, we’re taught that we should be able to enjoy sex without any electronic help. One fun way to start the conversation is to share fantasies with your partner, either through sexting or in person! Something like “I want us to both be grinding against the Magic Wand,” or “imagine me tying you up with a blindfold, rubbing a vibrator along your thigh before stroking your penis with it” or “If you could use a toy on me, what would it be and why?” (and be prepared to answer the question too!). Another great way to jumpstart the conversation is to talk about how you masturbate solo and what toys you use alone.

You can share sex toy reviews and ask your partner what they think; share some erotica that includes the use of sex toys, or watch porn with your partner that also has some scenes with sex toys. Many cities have drop-in rope classes that you can attend as a couple. There’s a lot of great sex shops that also have classes and workshops that can be a fun date!

Ask them to do a Yes No Maybe list that includes various types of toys! Autostraddle’s very thorough Yes No Maybe list covers a lot of topics, but if you want something VERY specific to toys, here’s a new list! It has a list of toys and toy-centric activities you can say yes, no, or maybe to; and ALSO some fun n’ sexy brainstorming ideas for you and your partner at the end. Check it out! If you and your partner already use sex toys, this can be a good resource to introduce new types of toys into the bedroom.

Time to Play

If your partner is less experienced with toys in general, be prepared for there to be a learning curve! Ask questions, EXPERIMENT, and trust that they know what’s best for their body. Also, be prepared to be the one that purchases the toy if it’s something neither of you own. Using a sex toy can be intimidating but so can going to a sex shop for the first time. Perhaps offer to go to the sex toy store for or with them you can also shop together online in the safety and privacy of a bedroom.

Here’s a big tip: If you’re getting a partner a toy have them use it ALONE, on their own, first. This can help make it a little less awkward and vulnerable when you’re together later, and take off some of the pressure of performing it perfectly right away. Plus it’ll help them knowing how it functions and how it works best with their body before sharing the toy with you.

The next tip is to keep your toys clean, charged, and nearby. Have a place near the bed where things are stored and ready to prevent having to walk across the room or a toy losing its charge mid-use.

Sex toys are fun, but don’t expect a miracle! Sex toys (alone but especially with partners) are a learning curve. Sometimes it’ll all click right away but other times it might take couple tries to get it right. Don’t be afraid to use a toy multiple times before you get the hang of it. As mentioned, if you can use the toy solo ahead of time, it’ll make things easier in at least knowing how it works. Not every toy will work with every body. Don’t fret if a toy/tool/scene isn’t working with you and your partners the way you’d like. Now that you know what y’all DON’T like, it’ll make it easier to purchase something you DO like. Also, bringing a sex toy into a relationship that’s rocky will not save your sex life (or your relationship).

Speaking of your relationship, if you or your partner are feeling some misgivings, worries or insecurities about this, maybe addressing some of the common myths or misconceptions around toys will help.

Some Common Reasons Folks Are Hesitant About Bringing Sex Toys into a Relationship

They should be able to pleasure me without toys

Why? Seriously WHY should they be able to do that? And WHY should they even WANT to? Sex toys don’t take away intimacy; they can enhance it. Silicone isn’t going to replace flesh, especially when there’s feelings involved. It’s the act of being able to use these items together that makes them feel intimate and special. You using your favorite dildo alone is going to be a TOTALLY DIFFERENT experience than having your partner fuck you with said dildo.

Also, as I’ve stated before, our bodies are wacky machines and what worked for us once will not always work. We age, our bods change, our hormones change, we get depressed, we get sick; our libidos are affected by a lot that’s outside our control. Instead of fighting this, let’s embrace it as just part of life, including our sex life. Let’s use the tools available to us. If you like being spanked, using a flogger or paddle is going to be great for your partner’s carpal tunnel. Using the Liberator Wedge will do wonders for your back. On Arousal Gel (or other stimulating balms) can help us re-center ourselves in our bodies when we otherwise feel too stressed or anxious for sex. Sex toys are there for accessibility and pleasure and variety — not to replace partners.

Sex toys make my partner feel insecure/inadequate/threatened/I’m worried it’ll hurt their feelings.

Please refer your partner to my statement above. Variety is the spice of life! It should bring you pleasure to help your partner feel pleasure! And we should want to give pleasure in a variety of fun weird ways! Using toys does not mean we’re trying to fix something another person is lacking. Alyssa had great advice for this: “Egos are our own to check. If you are a person who does feel insecure at the thought of a partner needing/wanting a sex toy in the bedroom, I highly recommend looking into what about it feels bad. There’s nothing more intimate than giving (and receiving) what feels good.”

Basically: It’s not really your job to hold their hand through this. Asking a partner to deconstruct what feels uncomfortable is reasonable work to expect out of a loved one we’re intimate with! As Carrie points out, “We should discuss [sex toys] as they actually are: adaptive tools but also a new way to enjoy an experience.”

It’s loud! And distracting!

There are a TON of quiet toys! I recommend visiting (or emailing) your favorite radical feminist queer sex shop (Sup Smitten Kitten! Hi Babeland! What’s uppp SheBop!) for recommendations.

It’s $$$$$

Yes, sex toys cost money! It sucks! But your sex life is an investment and there’s a lot out there that is both body-friendly and affordable. Check out this article on affordable sex toys! Wait for a sale to make the big purchases. Ask for recommendations of quality affordable toys from folks who work at sex shops. They have a wealth of knowledge.

It hurts my wrists!

If sex toys hurt to hold, then don’t worry — there’s other sex toys to fix that! Check out these Liberator sex toy mounts! A thigh harness is great for a bunch of reasons! ALSO, check out this article about sex with chronic pain.

My sex toy feels like MINE, I’m embarrassed to use it with a partner!

There’s two directions this can go: get over the hump and use your toy with your partner or buy a new, second toy with your partner that’s just for the two of you. To start using your toy with a new person, start with talking about the toy and slowly elevate the conversation. Have your partner tell you a sexy story where you’re using the toy with them while getting you off. Show them the toy during a time that isn’t sexually charged, so they see it and you two can laugh away any awkwardness. Put it in the bed without the intention of using it, just to get it used to being in bed during sex. Let it develop from there. Otherwise, remember what I said about sex being an investment? If your toy feels particularly YOURS, you and your partner should think of getting one just for the two of you to use. This seems expensive and it is, but orgasms are priceless, my pal. There’s also the particularly queer problem of New Partner, Old Sex Toys which Austen addresses best: Don’t Throw Out Your Sex Toys Just Because You Met Someone New.

I’m afraid of getting desensitized.

Not a thing my pal! Vibrators are not dangerous!

In conclusion, we all deserve a wild, fun, spontaneous and adventurous sex life and sex toys can really enhance all of that. There’s no time like the present to add something new to the bedroom.

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I'm a cartoonist living in Minneapolis. Co-Author and artist of A Quick And Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns. Author of Grease Bats, coming out Fall 2019 with Boom! Studios! If I'm not working I'm socializing. If I'm not out with friends I'm drawing. If I'm not doing any of those things I'm probably depressed. Support me using Patreon.

Archie has written 117 articles for us.


  1. You touched on this, but I just cannot endorse enough the practice of handling/playing with/trying out toys alone before using them with a partner. Borrowing my (then new) partner’s large tupperware of toys, many of which I was unfamiliar with or had only seen/fantasized about, to investigate on my own led to a COMPLETE BREAKTHROUGH in my interest in entire new genres of objects and sensations. Any stage-fright or self-consciousness I had melted away, and it made it a lot easier to be like “please let’s try [ACTIVITY] with [OBJECT].”

    Borrow things, try them out, take notes (use the list here!!), share the notes, act accordingly.

  2. Just going to add in watching someone use a toy on themselves is a GREAT way to get ideas for what works well for them and is also hot AF.

    • I second this, my activity partner found it hot when I was using one of her favorite toys on myself.

  3. I am glad that you said that sex toys have a learning curve. My husband mentioned the possibility of buying a sex toy and I have never considered this option before. It would be smart for us to look at our options and decide together what would work best for us, and then to practice a few times until we get the hang of it.

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