My name is Nancy, and I'm 19. My boyfriend's name is Carl, we have been together for almost a year—our anniversary is actually February 14!—and we have great sex frequently! I want to do something sexy for us on our anniversary. I plan on being with Carl for years to come, and I don't want the sex to become monotonous. For a while, I've wanted to go to a sex store to purchase a few things to spice things up. I found a supportive, nonjudgmental friend who wants a few kinky things for her and her boyfriend. As you can imagine, we're both excited to go on this adventure, but there's just one problem: I have no idea what to buy! Neither does my friend! I was hoping you had a few essentials that my friend and I should know about or consider purchasing. My boyfriend and I have never used such things, but I'm positive that with your help making the right purchases, he will be all for it! Both my friend and I are college students, so we're on a budget. I'm hoping to stay under $100! I just want to keep our relationship going strong and keep things interesting between us sexually. Thanks, Dan!
Needs A Naughty Connection, Yo!
One man's scorching-hot sex toy is another man's boring old roll of duct tape, NANCY. By which I mean to say...
Turn-ons are subjective. Not all women are to all men's tastes, not all men are to all women's, and not all sex acts appeal equally to all. Likewise, sex toys that I might buy for my partner—sex toys I might be inclined to mention when asked to recommend one or two—might not appeal to your boyfriend. I'll go further than that: The sex toys that turn my husband on would either terrify or stump your boyfriend. Instead of buying the sex toys that turn me or my husband on, it would be better to go shopping and find a few things that turn you on. And instead of shopping with your friend, you might want to go shopping with your boyfriend.
But if you want to surprise your boyfriend—and that's legit, and lots of people surprise their partners with sex toys on Valentine's Day—I asked a few sex-toy merchants I like and trust for recommendations for you.
Jennifer Pritchett from Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis, Minnesota (smittenkittenonline.com): "The variety of sexy gadgets and orgasm-promising gizmos can be overwhelming even for an experienced shopper. Don't fret! Smart sex-toy shoppers use a process of elimination. First, commit to a budget that you are comfortable with. Second, ask yourself what you want to do with it. Penetration or no? Vibration or no? Unsure? Then go with the most versatile toy possible. Try out the vibrating dildo by Pleasure Works called the Right Spot. This affordable toy is great for g-spot or prostate stimulation, comes with a removable vibrator, and can be sterilized easily! The Right Spot will keep up with your changing sexual tastes for years to come!"
Claire Cavanah from Babeland in Seattle and New York City (babeland.com): "Nancy sounds like a great girlfriend—she's taking responsibility for maintaining the hotness in her relationship. Bravo! She asked for the essentials, and that means vibrators and lube. We offer a kit called the Babeland Vibrator Starter Kit for $45. It consists of three vibrators: the Orchid G, which is great for, you guessed it, g-spot stimulation; the Silver Bullet, a standard vibe that has served as a gateway toy for many thousands of sex-toy lovers; and a Sonic Ring vibe, a stretchy cock ring that holds a vibrator on top of the penis or dildo for clit stimulation during penetration and gives the penis a good buzz, too. These rate as good starter toys because they're easy to use, they're unobtrusive and friendly looking, and they deliver a lot of power. She should take home a hardy lubricant like BabeLube or Sliquid as well. Happy anniversary!"
Evy Cowan from Shebop in Portland, Oregon (sheboptheshop.com): "I could give Nancy some suggestions on a starter kit, but I think it's much more fun to explore and decide for yourself what would work for you and your partner. Don't be scared to pick things up and turn things on (that's if the shop provides floor models like we do). It's really important to be able to feel the material and what levels and types of vibrations different toys produce. Don't be afraid to ask the staff questions—that's what we're here for. If the sex shop in your town is not very helpful when it comes to questions, then do some research before you go shopping. On our blog, we have a great guides section that gives advice, from choosing your first vibrator to detailed instructions on how to use a cock ring. Last but not least, make sure the toys you are buying are body safe—there are lots of toys out there that you do not want to be putting in your body. Check out the 'Safe Sex Toy Shopping Guide' at Badvibes.org to get the basics."
Tynan Fox from Twin Cities Leather in Minneapolis, Minnesota (facebook.com/TwinCitiesLeather): "The other contributors have given you some spectacular answers, but as Dan alluded to, don't forget to think outside the box. Our advice: Don't let the gas masks and floggers and cock locks (oh, my!) scare you away from leather/fetish shops or gear. It's okay to start small and simple. Consider buying two blindfolds—one for each of you—and go at it while you're both wearing them. The feeling of having sex with all your other senses heightened may just ignite a new kinky spark in your love life, and that would definitely fight off routine, monotonous sex. Who knows? Maybe one day, rather than thinking outside the box, you'll be keeping your boyfriend's cock locked inside one! But start small. You want to work your way up to the Fucksaw."
I'm a married straight man. I recently spent a lovely day snorkeling with my wife in Mexico. We were grouped with three men who were obviously in a committed three-person relationship. I lacked the cojones to ask directly, but they had an extensive travel history together and lived together, everything was "we" this or that, and there were various PDA pairings during the day. They were lovely people. I wish we all lived in the same city, as it's hard to meet cool people who aren't exactly like you when you're married with kids. Several questions: (1) What do gay people call such a union? (2) Does the gay community think it's odd? Unremarkable? Sensible? (3) How does a union like that form? A couple adds a third? (4) Do these relationships last? Lots of pros and cons, just curious how it plays out.
Three-way Relationship Intrigues Oblivious Straights
1. Such unions are referred to as "throuples" by gays and straights. For a picture of the inner workings of a gay throuple, TRIOS, check out Molly Young's profile of one in New York magazine's most recent "Sex Issue." Benny, Jason, and Adrian are the men behind the popular "gipster" porn site CockyBoys.com, and you can read Young's piece about their home, work, and sex lives at tinyurl.com/gaythrup.
2. Some gay people think throuples are odd, some think they're unremarkable, and some think they're sensible. And some gay people—some dumb ones—think gay throuples are bad PR at a time when gay couples are fighting for the right to marry. But our fight is for equal rights, not double standards, and no one argues that straight marriage should be banned because of all the straight throuples, quadles, quintles, sextetles, etc. out there.
3. In my experience, yes, that's usually how it happens.
4. Throupledom presents unique challenges: Major life decisions require buy-in from three people; two can gang up against one during arguments; the partners who were coupled before the third came along may treat the third as a junior partner, not an equal partner, etc. But throupledom presents unique benefits, too: another set of hands to help around the house, another income to pay down the mortgage, another smiling face to sit on, etc. And it's not like coupledom is a surefire recipe for success. Half of all marriages—those traditional "one man, one woman, for life" marriages—end in divorce. Yet discussions of throupledom all seem to begin with the assumption that coupledom is a self-evidently more stable arrangement. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I'd like to see some research comparing throuples to couples before I accept that premise.
I met you briefly in Madison, Wisconsin, a long time ago. As a physician, I'm usually impressed with your savvy advice and medical accuracy. And your It Gets Better Project is a major contribution to the mental and physical health of adolescents and young adults.
Now for a quick medical comment: I agree with your suggestion that doctors give "flared-base" advice to patients who use anal toys. But there's a simple way for a person who didn't get that advice to remove an object that is stuck in the rectum. They should squat—do a deep knee bend—stay still, relax, breathe, and voila! The item will pop out onto the floor. No probing or uncomfortable procedure necessary. After learning about this technique from a very wise woman physician (who recalled the history of women giving birth in that position and applied the same principle to relaxing the rectal muscles), I used this with young adult patients who would come to my clinic in an embarrassing predicament. The result was simple and comfortable for both patient and physician. Feel free to pass this advice on to others who might benefit!
Best Advice Simplifies Exit
Thanks for sharing, BASE!
Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.