Now that I'm a sex writer with dozens of vibrators in my apartment, getting sex toys seems like second nature to me. That makes it easy to forget that a decade ago, I was a nervous teen shopping for her first vibrator — and I had no clue what to get. When you've never set foot in a sex shop before, buying sex toys can be confusing. They have so many different shapes, sizes, and functions, it's hard to know what to even factor into your decision.
When I bought my first sex toy, I was a freshman in college just starting to explore my sexuality with other people. I'd been masturbating forever, but only with my hands. And since I was having a sort of sexual awakening, it seemed appropriate to switch up my solo sex routine too. So, a friend and I took an excursion to Condom World in Boston — which, it turns out, has far more than condoms. I blushed as I perused the shelves and lingered on a purple vibrating dildo. It seemed adequate for both clitoral and vaginal use and was simple enough not to be intimidating, so I placed it on the counter and tried to avoid eye contact with the salesperson.
Now that I think about it, very little went into that decision — because I had no idea what questions to ask. If I could go back in time, here's what I (and a few experts) would ask my 18-year-old self.