As Part of The Candid Collective’s Improving Intimacy workshop with Almaz Ohene. We explored ways to open up intimacy with a partner, this included a section where I talked about using sex toys to deepen partnered play.
When I was crowdfunding for Prudence, I spoke to a lot people of about their thoughts on toys. One girl had a knee jerk reaction to the project "Once you've use a sex toy a penis will never be good enough again”. I was surprised at this concern but it’s easy to forget when you’re immersed in a world of tools and toys that this is a common misconception. The notion that a sex toy is there to replace a phallus, is not surprising considering how early sex toys looked. Dildos in particular were mostly built on the “cock and balls” model in flesh tones with veiny detailing and often in obscene sizes. Understandably, these could be seen a threatening as opposed to a heightening force.
Sex toys have come on a long way since then, they are now beautifully designed and anatomically considered. Nowadays, they aren’t so genital orientated in fact the onus is on stimulating erogenous zones all over the body.
Using a sex toy with a partner can be a fantastic way to build on intimacy. It relies on taking your time and being attentive to each other's body. It’s rather our strength as a species to use tools to aid our routine. Think becoming Iron man! (or woman) – Giving your partner oral sex with a dildo, say, has doubled your capabilities. Here's 3 reasons why to give it a go:
Vibrations are another kind of feeling we can experience and can be layered with more natural sensations such as kissing or blowing. Skin is the largest organ in our body and covered in erogenous zones. Exploring the less obvious areas, such as focusing on the back of knees, or earlobes with a vibrator can tap into sensitivities.
image cred: Rory
Ceramic, glass, even wooden sex toys are all on the market to try. I love Hard toys because of pressure and firmness, for me, they conduct the skin’s warmth in softer way. Exploring textures with a partner can be a good way to tap into sensuality, and encourage slow play. That could be as simple as silk scarf across the skin. Or something more complex like temperature play which can be used to build trust with your partner in a safe, controlled space.
Sex toys can be used to tap into fantasy spaces. For example, anal sex. A set of training butt plugs could be a good way to start exploring anal play without going from 0 – 60. Going from a finger to a whole penis inside your body is vast but butt plugs could be used to bridge that gap at your own pace.
It could be that you’d like to explore the idea of a threesome. Instead of inviting a third person into the mix, you could begin that fantasy with a toy. Particularly in regards to double penetration it’s far a softer entry point. All the better if coupling this with watching pornography or dirty talk.
Even the experiencing of shopping for sex toys, or speculating about things that appeal to you with your partner, can be very erotic. It might even open up conversations about things you’d like to try together.
Male Sex Toys
Maybe the reason that sex toys have been considered threatening to partnered play is because they are primarily marketed towards womxn. However, there’s so many great options out there for men too and it’s a growing market! I’m a big fan of the Tenga love eggs which are textured massage sleeves for changing up the sensation of hand jobs. For me, using toys to explore male penetration can be a beautiful and vulnerable experience. It relies on empathy and communication at every stage. For this reason, I find it one of the most intimate experiences that can be had with a male partner.
How you decide to use a toy is unique to every person - It’s about staying playful. Sex toys are tools and should be used as such. They should never be a distraction from intimacy as their primary purpose is to heighten not detract. Whether that’s to improve communication, as a slow build up or for layering sensations - They are there for your pleasure.