Recently, over dinner with a couple of friends, our conversation turned to the topic of sex and dating. I expressed my frustrations with trying to meet people off dating apps and in different social settings. I shared that, because I wasn't having much luck in that department, I had been using my sex toy more. My friends agreed with how hard it was to date, especially in a place like New York City, but when it came to my using my sex toy more frequently, they didn't have much to say.
Once the initial awkward silence was over, I asked about their relationship to sex toys. One friend responded that she didn't really use them often but was curious about it. Another friend said she hadn't tried one before. I was a little surprised at their responses and wanted to know more.
Sex is a big part of relationships, and being able to talk openly and honestly with friends is important. And a part of a lot of people's sex lives involves using sex toys. For me personally, it's something I have come to rely on for an orgasm and use often, but my toy usage isn't the same as the next person's.
While it's a perfectly normal and healthy thing to do, there is often a larger cultural stigma and sometimes embarrassment that comes with admitting to using one. Sex toys are something I've implemented in my intimate life for years. And with it being a $15 billion-a-year industry, sex toys have started to become a more widely used item, and there is growing demand for them in general.
When it comes down to it, sometimes talking about sex and sex toys can be uncomfortable, even with the people you're closest to -- but your friends are the ones who know you best and are often the people who can give you the best advice and input, while keeping your interests at heart.
Sex toys can be a touchy subject, but they can also provide a lot of pleasure for you and a partner. And they can also be a jumping-off point for an incredibly liberating and powerful discussion. The next time you are with a group of friends and the subject of sex toys comes up, don't dance around it -- try and dig in and see what happens. You may end up learning something about yourself and your friends in the process. Check out these five tips to help you make the conversation go more smoothly.
1. Meet People Where They Are
Sometimes it's difficult for people to discuss sex toys and how they use them. They may even be embarrassed about the subject altogether. Whatever it may be, when talking about this sometimes-delicate topic, one of the best things you can do is meet people where they are. If one friend is more open about discussing sex toys, and the other isn't so up in the conversation, it may be best to chart some middle ground and find a way to be inclusive and respectful of what people are OK and not OK talking about. With this approach, you can set some ground rules and hopefully be able to get everyone on the same page.
2. Respect Comfort Levels
Talking about sex toys -- and sex, in general -- can sometimes be hard for people, depending on what their relationship is to these topics. Although you may be open to the subject matter, your friends may not. That's why it's important to be respectful of what people are comfortable and not comfortable talking about. If you can talk about the topic in a way in which everyone is receptive to it and can keep an open mind, this will allow for a frank conversation. When someone feels comfortable and respected within a space, hopefully, they will start to speak up about their relationship with sex toys and what works and doesn't for them.
3. Be Honest About Your Experiences
People generally are more willing to share their experiences if you are honest about yours. At this point in my life, I have owned several sex toys from various brands and have opinions about which ones I think work best for me.
Talking about your experiences honestly allows you to compare notes with your friends and also, in some ways, learn from the experiences they and you have had. Sometimes what didn't work for you and one toy might be exactly what someone else is looking for. However, if you aren't honest about your experience, you run the risk of possibly steering someone in the wrong direction. Being able to talk about how different toys work and how you navigated that can prove useful for someone else. Also, you may pick up a pointer or two along the way.
4. Don't Be Judgmental
Whether your friend is just starting to test the waters with sex toys and is gathering information or is a seasoned veteran, sometimes it's important to just listen. While you may have an opinion about what they are telling you, sometimes you just need to sit back and let them share what's going on.
Part of being a good friend is being able to take on someone else's experience and not pass judgment. Try to avoid using words or phrases that might sound as if you are criticizing them, such as "You should" or "Do this." Also, remember that what works for you or your friend might not work for someone else. Letting people be on their path, encouraging them to do what works for them, and listening is what friendship is all about.
5. Support Your Friends -- and Their Sexual Choices and Sex Toy Usage
If your friend is nervous about sharing their sex toy experiences with you, be supportive! Remember, experimentation is healthy, and as long as they aren't hurting themselves or others and are getting pleasure from what they are doing, that's all that matters! There's no better feeling than when your friends are supporting you and the choices you are making in all parts of life, including sex!