Wise Counsel from Susan Quilliam: Sex toys – why bother?

Dear Susan,
It seems as if everywhere I turn, people are going on about sex toys: they’re advertised online, they’ve been the subject of endless programmes on TV. And my oldest friend spent our wine-bar evening last week telling me about this great new vibrator she’s bought.
Thing is, I don’t like the idea. I feel toys are not what good sex is about, and surely any partner would run a mile. And the only time I’ve bothered buying one – which admittedly was several years ago – it didn’t do a thing for me; the vibe wasn’t strong enough, the whole thing looked tacky, and it stopped working after about an hour (of course, I couldn’t send it back because I’d used it!).
Am I missing something here? Or am I too inhibited for my own good?
Layla
Dear Layla,
I don’t get the sense that you’re inhibited. Like anything else to do with sex – favourite foreplay, intercourse positions, and every variety of kink –  there are some people who love it, some people who hate it and some people who couldn’t care less. And that’s fine – there are plenty of nice things you can do in bed other than use sex toys. So relax and enjoy what you do enjoy.
That said, if your email is triggered by a wish to make toys work for you – after all, you did buy one, albeit a few years ago – then let me offer a few thoughts.
Your worries about whether using a toy means bad sex is arguable. Many individuals get more stimulation and more control from using devices – plus research suggests that people who use them learn about their bodies and what works for them. And there are many couples who see sex toys as a way to happily play together, building trust and exploring new boundaries. So although you’re not alone in being wary of them, don’t assume that everyone is; many find it a huge turn-on.
Also, your nasty experience with a rubbish toy may not be typical now. The amount of money poured into the sex toy trade by reputable firms is huge and there are some very gorgeous- looking devices currently on the market. Plus, although there is no formal quality protection for toys, the more people buy them, the more manufacturers have to make sure they are to a high standard. Yes you can still get tacky pink plastic tat that falls apart – but most are made to last because if word gets round that they don’t last, sales plummet.
Bottom line, if you’re dead against toys then don’t bother. But if you’re tempted because of what your friend told you, then go to a good sex shop where you can look, feel and talk to an assistant about what would work for you! This could be the start of a whole new adventure.
Susan Quilliam also offers email, phone and face-to-face coaching on relationship and sexuality issues. Contact her here
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  • I can relate to this. When I was younger I really enjoyed using vibrators and I only had 2 which were pretty cheap and tacky. I still enjoyed them though. However I went through a huge period of just finding them unappealing and not really desiring them all. Just intercourse and hands and my Husband were all that I cared for. In fact they are really to this day. I do not think it makes you inhibited at all. I also agree though that you could be missing out on something based on the fact that you have only tried a crappy vibe!

    The sex toy world is extremely enticing to me now – the modern designs and contours – the innovation – it is utterly inspiring to me. I am amazed at what some of these companies do in order to try and make the perfect sex toy for a woman or man or couples. Some of the couple toys are really interesting. Long are the days when it was just about cock rings for couples!

    Anyway – I wouldn’t worry about it. If you want to try it out again, make do it a little research and pick something that caters for your needs and isn’t cheap and tacky. There is a lot of luxurious and lushness in the sex toy world and its far from all being tacky 🙂

  • Nigel commented on December 7, 2013 at 11:01

    Dear Layla

    As a man, I wanted to comment on your statement that any partner would run a mile. Any partner worth his salt would care about his woman’s pleasure and enjoyment. I have bought my partner several vibrators and I very much enjoy using them as part of our love making. I have heard some women say that a vibrator can cause a sort of jealousy in a relationship. Those men are being silly, or worse, selfish.

    In a way, sex for a man is an event, while for a woman it is a state. If I can use different things to bring my woman into that state and keep her there for as long as possible then I am being as good a lover as I can be. So that’s how I think about these things. I know my partner uses them when she is alone and actually that makes me want to be better at using them on her than she is! I think the terminology doesn’t help; “sex toy” or “vibrator” are rather functional names for these instruments of pleasure.

    So please don’t have a hang up about what a man might think. If he has a problem then he’s probably going to be selfish, so let him run that mile and be glad he did.

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