How To Use A Partner Toy For The First Time

From shopping to aftercare.

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Social distancing with your latest Hinge date? Bored during quarantine? Wondering how to heat things up in the bedroom? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, this is your sign to use a partner toy, or start experimenting with sex toys that are *specifically* designed for partners.

“Using [partner] toys is a great way to increase the amount of foreplay time and extend sexual experiences,” sexpert for sexual wellness brand and retailer Lovers Marla Renee Stewart, MA, tells Bustle. Bringing toys into the bedroom can help to increase the amount of time couples spend having sex (if that’s one or both partners’ goal). According to resident sexologist for sexual body care company Royal Caitlin V. Neal, MPH, there are countless options for how to use toys during partnered sex. “You can use [them] to play with yourself in front of your partner or to heighten your stimulation during intercourse itself,” she tells Bustle. “Don’t forget that many toys are also useful during oral and manual sex, too.”

If you’re ready to incorporate toys into your partnered sexual experiences, allow me to explain the ins and outs of how to get started, which products you might want to buy, questions to ask your partner(s) before you play, safety tips, and more.

Getting Started With Partner Toys

First things first, you need to bring up the conversation about trying toys together. However, it can be awkward to randomly strike up a chat about sex toys if you’re new to using them, so try these sexpert-approved conversation starters:

  • “I had a dream where…”
  • “I was talking to a friend recently who recommended…”
  • “I saw on Instagram…”
  • "My friend says she likes [this toy] because [justification]. What do you think about that?"
  • “Your hands feel good [on this part of your body]. I wonder if we can take it up a notch and implement [these toys] next time."

Once you get the ball rolling, Stewart says to discuss toys you've seen and/or want to try and why you want to try them. If you’re just getting started, you can browse sex toy brand profiles on Instagram or do a Google search for dildos, vibrators, or other partner toys that can serve a specific purpose. She also recommends asking your partner which toys they like to use while masturbating, which ones they want to use during partnered sex, and if they’ve ever tried [insert toy here that you might want to try with them]. Questinos like these can help lead you to figuring out how you two might want to incorporate toys during sex in the future.

You can also get started by taking a trip together to a brick and mortar sex toy shop. “Not only is it a sex-positive space where you can ask the clerk all the questions you’d like without judgement, but it’s also an excellent place to begin discussing desires with your parter,” says Neal. “The selections you’ll see around the shop are great conversation starters, and you may even be inspired to try out your purchases right when you get home.” For folks who’d rather not go out during the pandemic, shopping for toys online works just as well instead.

How To Choose Which Partner Toys To Buy

Ask each other questions to figure out which toys you might enjoy using together. “It’s really about zeroing in on the goals you’re trying to achieve in the bedroom,” Neal tells Bustle. For example, consider whether you’re trying to help her achieve orgasm, help them last longer, or introduce kink and BDSM into your sex life. No matter your answers, she says “the goal for anything that you do in the bedroom should be pleasure, so make sure that’s your barometer when you’re deciding which toys to pick up and try out with your partner.”

The “best” types of partner toys depend on each couple’s unique preferences. However, Stewart believes great partner toys have variety to them and can be used by all partners involved. For example, she recommends using nipplettes if everyone’s into nipple stimulation and the Deuce harness, which allows for double penetration or pegging, for those who enjoy penetration. On the other hand, Neal suggests vibrating cockrings and remote control vibrators by LELO, as well as vibrators with small, ergonomic handles that are easy to maneuver during intercourse (like the Zumio line).

“Remember, sometimes it takes going through a number of toys [to figure] out which ones are your favorite,” reminds Stewart. Her solution? Experiment. Keep trying different toys until you find the ones that work best for you and your partner.

Partner Toy Safety & Aftercare Tips

Safer sex is better sex. While playing with partner toys, make sure that the lubricant you use is body-safe and compatible with your toy materials. For example, Neal warns to *never* combine silicone-based lube with a silicone toy (because they aren’t compatible). Instead, she recommends high-quality water-based lubricants, like Royal’s Premium Lubricant and LOLA, for silicone toys (and glass, metal, and all other material toys).

“After you use your toys, properly wash them with a quality toy cleaner or with soap and hot water,” says Neal. Just be careful not to ruin your toys by cleaning them wrong... like, by submerging or boiling non-waterproof vibrators in water. That’s a quick and easy way to destroy them.

Once you’re done playing, take good care of yourself and your partner by hydrating, cuddling, and doing whatever else feels best for all parties. Stewart also recommends discussing how the experience went. “I think it's important to talk about the toy and how you like or didn't like it and how it made you feel,” she says. “You want to make sure that you’re getting things that enhance your sexual experience, not damper it.” Then you and your partner can decide if you’ve found a new favorite toy to play with together or if you should go back to square one and try something new.


Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert

Caitlin V. Neal, MPH, sexologist