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Bringing a Vibrator Into the Relationship: A Couple's Guide

arms and bodies overlapping

Bringing a Vibrator Into the Relationship: A Couple's Guide

There are endless reasons as to why you might want to use sex toys with your partner, but if you don't know how to approach the subject or how to actually use one with them during sex, you're a bit blocked from trying it out together and reaping the benefits. We have some ideas to help you both be having your best sex.

Maybe one or both of you have a harder time reaching orgasm during sex. Maybe you've fallen into a routine and are seeking some novelty in your sex life. Or maybe you've gotten so much pleasure out of your vibrator on your own that you want to spread the joy.  

Opening the conversation 

If you're totally starting from zero in terms of talking about vibrators with your partner, you might want to start by mentioning a vibrator in casual conversation to get an initial reaction. It could be referring to a part in a movie, something a friend said, or something you read. Regardless, vibrators (and sex toys, broadly) are a very common thing to be interested in and related taboos are dissolving, so there's a good chance your partner will also be interested in trying it out.

However, if you're less convinced that your partner will be receptive straight out of the gate, consider the various ways you can frame it: 

  • Using a vibrator during sex isn't exclusively for people who are into "weird" or fringe interests. More and more couples are incorporating toys into their sex lives (53% of women and 50% of men have reported using a vibrator during sex, according to a University of Indiana study done nearly 10 years ago!).
  • A vibrator is not a replication or replacement for a partner (and comes in many non-phallic shapes and sizes). Sexologist Alicia Sinclair puts it well: "Toys are sexual enhancements, like chocolate sauce or sprinkles on ice cream"
  • Both of you can derive pleasure from a vibrator in your sex life. It's mostly attached to women's use, but there are tons of ways men can enjoy a vibrator during sex (or on their own). 
  • If you enjoy using lube or getting down with a little dirty talk, using a vibrator is not that different in principle. It's just another tool in the toolbox of things that get you going
  • The orgasm gap is very real: while about 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasm during sex, only about 65% of heterosexual women do. Incorporating a vibrator into sex significantly heightens the chances that you'll both reach orgasm, possibly together. 

What if your partner isn't receptive? 

There's a difference between feeling a bit unsure and having an actual aversion to trying out a vibrator during sex. If you're in a long-term relationship, you may already know or feel comfortable enough to talk about where your partner's aversion comes from. It could be anything from past trauma, subconscious stigma, fear of sexual inadequacy, or self-consciousness. 

If your partner's aversion is rooted in unfair judgment towards vibrators, or if they feel that you should only be deriving pleasure from intercourse with their body alone, this could signal either a deeper issue in the relationship or the individual. Your partner being completely closed off to something that could enhance your pleasure means they're prioritizing their own comfort and pleasure over yours, even if they don't realize it. 

There are some more discrete options that can act like a gateway for people who might be otherwise closed off or its their first time using a sex toy. A vibrating cock ring is a good choice for a starter sex toy–it can give one partner clitoral stimulation while allowing the other penetrative sex. We-Vibe is a brand that makes a couple's sex toys, so that they both can enjoy the vibration at the same time.

Regardless of if you're in a long-term relationship or are having casual sex, no one should make you feel uncomfortable or like you're "in the wrong" for being interested in using a vibrator during sex. If they do, then perhaps they shouldn't get the privilege of having sex with you. 

What if you bring it up and they're looking for something more than you expected–like a strap-on or anal plugs? Be as open with them as you hoped they'd be when you brought up the topic and talk it out!

Consider shopping for a vibrator together. 

If your partner isn't very familiar with vibrators, taking on the task of buying a vibrator to use together can be an educational opportunity. If your partner's already comfortable around vibrators, shopping together is pure fun! Whether you shop in a physical retail store like Babeland or browse online, be sure you explore a variety of shapes and sizes, considering versatile modes of stimulation. Think about what you'd both be comfortable in the room–does it need to be discrete or are you both looking for something daring?

Hot tip: holding a vibrator against the point of your nose is a good way to gauge how "intense" the vibrations will feel in other places. 

Using a vibrator during sex 

Onto the fun part! We could go on forever about all the ways to use a vibrator with your partner, but there are limited hours in the day. 

Some things to keep in mind: 

  • Start slow and build - don't start off on the highest vibration setting! 
  • Unless the vibrator is squeeze-controlled, keep your grip consistently light. Your hand could start to absorb some of those good vibrations if you hold it too tightly.
  • On the lowest setting, slowly move the vibrator over bare skin, maybe starting on yourself and then moving to your partner. 
  • Do you or your partner like to masturbate in the bath? Test out a waterproof toy together–though the bath might limit some movement. 
  • Don't feel limited to where you can use it. Nipples, balls, inner thighs, and even behind the ears are all erogenous zones! Just move slowly enough so that your partner can indicate if you're moving somewhere off-limits. 
  • Use the vibrator during oral sex, either holding it against your cheek or placed somewhere else on your partner's body. If your partner has a vagina, use an internal sex toy to focus on their g-spot while you continue with oral sex.
  • Position the vibrator somewhere between your bodies where it will feel good with natural movement (ex: between your pelvises while you rock against each other). 
  • For easier hand control, consider a position with one partner behind the other (doggie-style, for example), so their arm can wrap around and use the vibrator as clitoral stimulation or around the penis.
  • Experiment with vibration modes. A complex pattern might be a bit much at first, so keep things relatively simple at first, communicating along the way to express what feels good. 

As with anything sex-related, check-in with each other often! The best sex involves lots of communication. While one of you may be familiar with using a vibrator, it might be brand new for the other, so use verbal cues like "keep doing that" or "move this way". Guiding with your hands works as well.  

For long-distance relationships, use a vibrator on yourself while you have phone sex or use it to masturbate on your own, telling each other about it before or after. There are also tons of vibrators from brands like Lelo and We-Vibe that allow for remote control, giving your partner a more active role in your pleasure from afar. 

Safety still comes first.  

As always, sex toys should be cleaned between every use, whether it's with yourself or with a partner, as they can transfer harmful bacteria or STIs between uses. This is especially a must-do if you have multiple partners with whom you're having sex and/or using a vibrator. 

If you're using condoms to protect against STIs during sex, you should do the same with a toy - either with a condom or some other kind of barrier (like using the vibrator over the top of your underwear). While cleaning between uses should get rid of most infected pathogens, using a protective barrier gives you extra protection in the case of more persistent pathogens hiding in nooks and crannies. And yes, if you're using a condom-covered vibrator between the two of you, you'll need to change out the condom between each person. 

You should also be sticking to body-safe toys, sticking to medical-grade silicone and avoiding jelly toys at all costs.