Every Valentine’s Day, sex bloggers are asked some variation on the million dollar question: What should I buy this Valentine’s Day?
Here’s the hard truth: The answer to that question is not as simple as it seems. Unless I know you — and preferably, I would know both you and your partner — I don’t really know what you like. I don’t know what you dislike. I don’t know what you’ve tried, what your budget is, and what your limits are.
But if you do, then maybe I can help point you in the right direction (and steer you away from common mistakes).
I’m going to curate 3 picks for 3 different readers. Read through each reader’s brief note to see who shares most of your concerns, then see what I’ve suggested. I’m going to try to be inclusive while also keeping in mind that most of my audience is cis- or trans- feminine.
Laura: Couples’ Picks
Sarah, My partner and I have been together for a few years but we really haven’t explored much in the way of toys or bondage. We’re interested in trying something new, but I’m not sure where to start. I know that my partner is open to soft bondage, using a vibrator with/on me, and massage. What should I get for Valentine’s Day? Would it be best to start with one of those subscription boxes?
First of all, it’s great that you already have an idea of what your partner is and is not open to! That’s the first thing I suggest to anyone when it comes to shopping for new things to use together. This is not the time for total surprises. (If you haven’t already, consider completing a Yes/No/Maybe list like this comprehensive one from Bex.)
Subscription boxes certainly can make things easier, as they take the guesswork out of shopping. The other advantage of a box is that no one has to “own” bringing the items into your bedroom (provided both of you agreed to try the box in the first place). This can take some of the pressure off of a partner who’s interested in trying something but maybe feels shy or self-conscious about voicing that desire. For many people, it’s easier to say, “Ooh, look, there’s a pair of comfy neoprene handcuffs!” than it is to say, “I’d really like to try handcuffs.” The downside is that you don’t know exactly what you’re getting and all boxes are not created equal.
Since I’m a
total control freak specialist, I would prefer to curate my own little box, so that’s exactly what I’ve done today. My specially-curated box for you would look like this: Sliquid Massage Oil, Sex & Mischief Adjustable Neoprene Cuffs, Sliquid Sassy Lubricant, and the Turbo Glider vibrator. You can get all of that from SheVibe for $54.95 with SuperSaver Shipping.
If you want to kick things up a notch (and have a bigger budget), I would spring for the Sex & Mischief Bed Bondage Restraint Kit instead of just the cuffs and might upgrade the vibrator to something like the Jopen L2.5 if you know you like vibration and would prefer a smaller, rechargeable toy.
Note: This “box” isn’t limited to cis/het couples or penis-in-vagina sex. Sliquid Sassy is a super-versatile lube that’s great for use with dildos and was originally made for anal play. As long as you aren’t putting anything without a safe retrieval base (ie: either of the vibrators mentioned here) in your butt, play however you want! Everybody has a perineum, and you might be surprised by how much yours enjoys vibration.
Ben: Shopping for a Partner
Sarah, I want to surprise my girlfriend with a toy for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t really talked about it before, but every girl likes the Hitachi, right?
Let me stop you there. Your intentions are probably good, but you’re not starting off on the right foot, and I’ll tell you why: Surprising someone with a sex toy that you have not previously discussed is bad consent practice.
You might want to buy her a sex toy because you’re concerned about her pleasure and you want her to know that you care about her orgasms. And because you might have heard that the Hitachi (now called the Magic Wand Original) is the be all, end all of sex toys, you might assume that she should be over the moon to receive one. Let me reassure you: I don’t think you’re a bad partner for wanting to get your girlfriend a gift. But, open communication about sex is crucial, and buying sex toys is no exception.
Here’s what to do instead: Have a conversation with your girlfriend about toys. She may or may not be interested. Part of being a consent-conscious partner is not making assumptions and not applying pressure. Even if she is interested, the Magic Wand may not be the right choice for her. Who knows her body best? Hopefully she does! She’ll be able to tell you what’s worked for her in the past and what she’s interested in trying now. And if you think shopping together sounds boring, let me remind you that you’ll be spending a few hours talking about sex, pleasure, and your partner’s potential orgasm. That doesn’t sound so boring, now does it?
Note: This applies to you regardless of your gender, your partner’s gender, your relationship configuration, or your sexuality. Shop with your partner rather than for your partner.
Sarah: Treat Yourself
Sarah, I’m shopping for myself this Valentine’s Day, like a boss. I’ve had toys before but they’ve always been cheaper battery-operated things from home parties or the peg-walls at adult stores. I’m ready to treat myself. (PS Can you suggest a wine that pairs well with orgasms and Oreos? thx)
— Sarah, 5 years ago
Dear Sarah from 5 years ago,
Oh, the places you’ll go! It brings a tear to me eye. But let’s pretend you’re not me for a second so we can assist some other folks with their #treatyoself #vday2k17 shopping.
First, what’s worked for you in the past? What hasn’t? Maybe you had a pocket rocket that you loved, a rabbit that was meh, and a bullet that you always wished was just a bit bigger (or softer). Or, maybe you relied on a big, old-school slimline that takes 3 C batteries and could wake the dead. Maybe you have a “back massager” that gets a lot more action below the belt. Consider what already works for you and your body.
PS: Primitivo and Zinfandel are my favorites in general (they’re the same grape, just grown in different regions), and I’m not gonna lie to you, they pair great with Oreos.
Looking for an Educational Yet Steamy Read?
My friend Elle Chase sent me an advance copy of her new book Curvy Girl Sex, and I wholeheartedly recommend it! It’s a fantastic read for anyone looking to love their body and explore new positions. Elle makes an effort to be inclusive in more ways than one — she considered not only gender and pronouns but also disability and how body size, shape, and ability can affect your sexual experience. I got, like, ten pages in before I was texting my partner, you busy tonight?
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