MAXIMIZING PLEASURE: Tips for Sex Toy Success
Successful sex toy adventures, like delicious meals, require the proper ingredients. But unlike your grandma's secret recipes, the requirements for sex toy play are no great mystery. Besides needing the sex toy itself, you'll want to add these to the mix: masturbation, imagination, communication, and lubrication.
MASTURBATION: YOUR PATH TO PLEASURE
This is where I invite you to give yourself a hand, literally. I promise you there will be no hairy palms, no blindness, no insanity. On the contrary, you might find that masturbation relieves stress, helps you sleep, fights yeast infections, relieves menstrual cramps, burns up calories, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Oh, and it feels pretty darn good too.
But perhaps the single biggest reason to masturbate is that it helps you learn what you like sexually. Sure, you can wait for a partner to help you discover this, but why pin all your hopes on one person who may or may not deliver the goods and deprive yourself of hours of sexual bliss in the meantime? By yourself, you are free to take your time, make noise, and try different things, without worrying about performance anxiety or pleasing anyone but yourself. And the bonus once you know what feels good, you'll be able to show a partner later on.
If you already masturbate, this might not be news to you. But if you feel anything less than satisfied with your masturbation habits, you might still be buying into some of the societal taboos around masturbation. For example, most of us know that masturbation isn't really bad for us, we just think of it as lesser sex somehow: something to keep us sexual until we're partnered, when we shouldn't need it anymore. In fact, masturbation lends an erotica and educational edge to partner sex play. Masturbating in front of your partner requires you to get in touch with your exhibitionist side, which can be incredibly sexy, but it's also a great way to show him or her how you like to be pleasured.
Masturbation will teach you things about your sexual response that will help you determine what kind of sex toys you want to play with. For example, a woman who likes rubbing her clitoris while also being penetrated might choose a toy that vibrates her clit while also filling her vagina. A man who likes masturbating into pillows might select a penis sleeve. Obviously, once the toy arrives you'll be masturbating with it, but even if you're planning on using it with a partner, it's good to play with it alone first. This may take some of the element of surprise away, but it also might help you discover what you want it to do so you'll be better able to show a partner.
IMAGINATION: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Think back to your high school English class when the teacher introduced the concept called suspension of disbelief. This was the fancy way of saying anything is possible, so just sit back and enjoy what you are about to read, rather than worrying that it's too fantastic, improbable, or unrealistic. Believe it or not, this concept comes in very handy with your sex life as well.
When you take anything is a possible approach to your sex life, you begin to jettison the cultural stereotypes and sex-negativity you may have picked up during your journey to sexual adulthood. Simply let yourself consider the possibilities. Maybe you'd like to have sex with the lights on (do good girls do that?); maybe you're intrigued by anal sex (does that mean I'm gay?); maybe you want to tie your girlfriend up (will she think I'm kinky?). Imagine a world where you just experience a pleasure for pleasure's sake and all those bubble-thoughts become irrelevant. Sex toys are liberating because they don't care about your sexual orientation or your personal proclivities; they're equal-opportunity pleasers.
So forget your preconceptions about sex toys and just pick one up and play with it. Suspend any anxieties you have about the different sexual activities described in this book, and just imagine yourself enjoying them as you read along. If you can visualize sexual bliss, you're that much closer to attaining it.
And remember, just because you imagine enjoying a certain type of sex doesn't mean you want to act on it. The fantasy component of your sex life can be as powerful as anything you do in real life. You can boost your excitement level by silently fantasizing about a hot sexual encounter, by talking dirty to a partner, or by reading or watching explicit erotica. The more you flex your erotic imagination, the more variety you will have in your lovemaking.
COMMUNICATION: INTRODUCING TOYS TO YOUR PARTNER
Say you've gotten comfortable with masturbation and you've fantasized about using a sex toy on your partner. How to make that a reality? That's where communication comes in. As you've probably noticed in your own experience, sexual communication can make all the difference between a great sexual encounter and a disastrous one. If your partner is doing something that causes you pain, you can keep mum and have a lousy time, you can criticize your partner's technique and throw a damper on the activity, or you can politely suggest an alternative and revive the thrill for both of you. That example illustrates the difference between no communication, poor communication, and good communication.
Good communication takes work, particularly because sex is such a loaded subject for most of us. We're not used to being so explicit, we're afraid of hurting a partner's feelings, or we don't want to appear vulnerable. But your conversations don't always need to be focused on your sex life. Practice talking about sex when you're not in the heat of passion, and you'll get more comfortable with the language of sex. There are lots of ways to do this: ask your partner questions about his or her sexual upbringing, watch a racy TV show or movie together, write an erotic e-mail or sexy letter to your partner, or discuss some news article or study about sex. Not only will this help put you at ease with sex as a subject matter, but it will also give you a better understanding of your partner's concerns or opinions about a variety of sexual matters.
Knowing how your partner feels about different sexual practices will help you gauge whether he or she will be receptive to playing with a toy. If you sense resistance, share a fantasy of yours involving a toy or browse a catalog of sex toys together, and let him or her know you're curious about sex toy play. Reassure your partner that the toy is not intended as a substitute, but as a way for you both to experiment and have fun. In general, it's unwise to surprise a lover by whipping out a toy during the heat of passion unless you're absolutely sure it'll go over well. You can do more damage than good this way feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, or sadness can come out, so head these off at the pass by talking about toys beforehand.
When introducing your partner to the idea of sex toys, always frame your suggestions in a positive or non-threatening way, such as Honey, I read about this sensitive spot inside my vagina and I'd love it if you'd help me find it with a G spot toy, rather than Honey, if you ever expect me to orgasm during intercourse you better buy me a toy! Share whatever you've learned, any anxieties you might have, and any questions you've come up with, and approach your toy experience as a joint venture. Partners, even if you're taken off guard by the suggestion, try to respond with an open mind. Do a little homework yourself if you need more information, then talk about what you've learned.
Once you've opened your new package and are ready to strap on that cock ring or rev up that vibrator, your communication skills will be tested further. Once you've masturbated with the toy, you'll want to describe for your partner where and how to use it. If you're not comfortable with such explicit language, try practicing alone first. It can be awkward to hear yourself using words like vagina or cunt at first, but with practice, your verbal skills can add an erotic thrill to your sex play. If you're a fan of nonverbal feedback, like moaning, try to make your intent clear moan of displeasure can sometimes be mistaken for a moan of ecstasy.
Whenever you talk about sex with a partner, remember these basic tips:
- Avoid the negative. Nothing stings like criticism.
- Be generous. Nothing tastes as sweet as a compliment.
- Be specific. If you want direct contact with your clitoris, ask for that, don't say more rubbing.
- Make requests. Don't demand action, remember your manners and ask politely.
- Use I statements. I come more easily when you lick my balls will get you more action than You always ignore my balls during oral sex.
- Compromise. If you can't each get your way, come up with creative compromises (I'll go down on you once a week, if you let me masturbate in the shower).
LUBRICATION: KEEP THINGS GOING SMOOTHLY
Just as communication helps keep the sex play going, lubrication helps keep your bodies flowing. It ensures a slippery smooth encounter so that your pleasure isn't marred by irritation or chafing, especially during penetration. Mother Nature's lubricant (in the form of pre-come, vaginal lubrication, or saliva) isn't always adequate, so keep a bottle of artificial lubricant on hand.
You'll notice that, in most of the activities described in this book, a lubricant is recommended along with the sex toy. That's because sex toy materials can absorb your natural lubrication quickly, leaving you high and dry. With a bottle of lube on hand, even the Energizer Bunny won't outlast you. Lubricant livens up masturbation, it can make vaginal penetration more comfortable, and it's essential for anal penetration since the anus doesn't produce its own lubrication.
In general, water-based lubricants (such as Astroglide, KY, Slippery Stuff) are recommended for most types of sex play. This is because they're safe to use with condoms, they wash out of the body easily, and they won't irritate or cause yeast infections in most women. Thicker water-based lubricants, often sold as gels, are recommended for anal play. The biggest complaint about water-based lubes is that they dry up quickly, a problem that can be easily rectified by applying a little water or saliva to reactivate the lube.
Silicone-based lubricants are fairly new to the market and are popular because they don't evaporate as quickly as water-based lubes, so you don't need to reapply as often. They also won't wash off in the water, so they're great for underwater sex. They are compatible with condoms and can be used externally for genital massage. On the downside, they're more expensive, are not always compatible with silicone toys, and are harder to clean up (soap and water will do the trick externally, but vaginal cleanup is more problematic).
Oil-based lubricants like Vaseline will deteriorate the latex in condoms or diaphragms, plus they're hard to wash out of the vagina. They're okay to use anally or externally for handjobs (unless you're having safer sex with condoms or dams).
Choosing a lubricant comes down to a matter of personal preference. Most water-based lubes claim to be taste and odor-free, but sensitive taste buds often detect a soapy aftertaste. Some people like stringier lube, others prefer creamy or gel-like textures. If you're very sensitive, or prone to yeast infections, choose a glycerin-free lube. Many vendors now sell packets of lube samples, which can be a great way to try a variety.
Now that you've got the main ingredients for an exotic sex toy adventure, go play!