What To Do If You Feel Like You're Addicted

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: are vibrators really addictive after all, and what can you do if you feel like your sex life is too dependent on vibrators?

Q: “So, I've read your column about whether or not vibrators are addictive. I know you said they aren’t, but I still think I might be addicted to mine. Basically, I can only come with a vibrator and that's it. I’ve made myself come in the past with my hand, but I’ve used my vibrator exclusively for a few years. Now, my hand feels boring, and I don’t enjoy masturbating with it. My boyfriend did make me come one time with his hand, but he’s never be able to do it again. I’ve never had an orgasm with him from oral or intercourse. I clearly have a block. Should I be going to sex therapy about this? I sorta know that I should put my vibrator away, but I feel like I'll go crazy without it. Can some people just not come in other ways? Is this just how things are going to be for me?”

A: Thanks for the question! In my sex therapy practice, female orgasm is my specialty (you’ve probably seen me mention Finishing School, my online orgasm course for women, in other columns). The vibrator column you mentioned was actually one of the very first ones I wrote for Bustle, so I’m glad to get another chance to address this extremely popular question from the angle of what to do if you feel like your vibrator is impacting your sex life in a relationship.

Don’t Give In To Fear

I think there’s a big culture of fear around vibrators. We ladies are told that we’ll get addicted to our vibrators. We’re told to keep our vibrator usage a secret, because our partners would be insulted if they knew we used them.

The first thing I want to make clear is that I think all of this vibrator fear mongering is really only meant to do one thing — make us feel bad about our sexuality. Don’t fall for that trap! Vibrators are amazing. They feel good. They’re fun to use alone or with a partner. Buying a vibrator is a way of prioritizing your sexuality and treating yourself. Like with anything else in life, you have to be thoughtful about the way you use vibrators. But thoughtfulness is in an entirely different ballpark from fear.

Remember That Orgasms Without A Vibrator Aren't Inherently "Better"

It also seems that your question is hinting at a belief that your vibrator-induced orgasms are somehow “worse” than orgasming at the hands (or mouth) of your partner. A lot of women feel this way. We’ve been socialized to believe that we’re supposed to have our orgasms in certain ways (namely, from penetration only). This even goes all the way back to Freud saying that clitoral orgasms are “immature.”

It is my wholehearted belief that no type of orgasm is “better” than another. All orgasms are awesome. And whatever your body needs to reach orgasm is beautiful and perfect. Just as you shouldn’t buy into the vibrator fear mongering, you also shouldn’t buy into the belief that you need to orgasm in certain ways. It’s fine to have your own goals and desires, but make sure they’re what you want, not what you think you’re supposed to want.

The Truth About Vibrators

It’s extremely important to keep in mind that all women respond to vibrators in different ways. Plenty of women love vibrators, but plenty don’t like them, or can’t orgasm from them. Some women only like very gentle vibrations, while other women to crank up the power settings. Some women have no problem swapping between vibrator orgasms and other orgasms, while other women find that the more they use their vibrator, the harder it becomes to have orgasms from hands, mouths, and intercourse.

Vibrators can create an incredible level of stimulation. That’s why they’re so enjoyable to use! Try as you might, you can’t replicate the sensations of a vibrator with a tongue, fingers, dildo, or penis. For most women, vibrators can also make it easy to orgasm, since all you need to do is hold the vibrator in place and let it do the work.

For those reasons, vibrator fans can get used to having maximum stimulation for minimal effort. Since you mentioned that using your hand now feels boring, I’m guessing this maximum stimulation/minimal effort dynamic is what’s going on for you. You may have some mental blockages to orgasm as well, but it primarily seems like you miss that intensity of stimulation when you’re not using a vibrator.

Be Thoughtful About Your Vibrator

Again, let me offer another reminder that I think vibrators are incredible and can be an amazing addition to any woman, man, or couples’ sex life. That being said, I think it’s also important to be thoughtful about the role you want vibrators to play in your sex life. If you had told me that your vibrator has never affected your other orgasms, or that you’re happy having only vibrator orgasms, I would tell you to keep using your vibrator.

It sounds like you have been able to orgasm in other ways in the past, but it hasn’t been as easy since you started orgasming with a vibrator. In this case, you have two options — learn how to orgasm in other ways, or learn how to incorporate your vibrator into your partnered sex life. Again, I know it’s easy to fall for the trap of believing that vibrator orgasms aren’t as “good” as other types of orgasms, but that’s simply not the truth.

How To Learn To Orgasm In Other Ways

First, let me tackle what you should do if you want to learn how to have other types of orgasms. You’ve had other types of orgasms in the past, and you can definitely learn how to have those orgasms again. Although we’re socialized to believe that female orgasm is “complicated,” it’s absolutely possible to learn multiple ways of orgasming. In the years that I’ve spent coaching women how to orgasm, I have always emphasized learning new ways of orgasming.

The best thing to do is go on a temporary vibrator hiatus. In my experience working with my clients, it's easiest to learn how to orgasm with your hands first, then learn how a partner can make you orgasm. You can read my past article for on how to masturbate, or sign up for the free masturbation workshop on my website for a more detailed instructions.

It typically takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to learn how to orgasm with your hands. I know this can be frustrating transition time, which is why I think it’s so important to get clear on your goals beforehand. If this is important to you, stick with it! Your hand will start to feel better again, I promise. Once you've learned how to orgasm from your own manual stimulation, you can read my guides to orgasming from your partner's touch and from oral sex. I will also be writing another column on learning to receive manual stimulation later this week, so look out for that as well!

Incorporate Your Vibrator Into Your Sex Life

Your other option is to get more comfortable and confident using your vibrator with your partner. This can be an incredibly sexy addition to any couple’s sex life, and there are lots of options:

  • Use your vibrator on yourself in front of your partner.
  • Have your partner use your vibrator you.
  • Use your vibrator or a couples toy like the JeJoue Mio or We-Vibe IV during intercourse.

Whatever you choose, remember to have fun!

Images: Ashley Batz/Bustle; Giphy