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Sex Toy Sommelier is our sex toy matchmaking and advice column at SheKnows. Whether you’re taking your first brave steps into the world of sex toys and sexual health accessories (welcome, it’s fun here!) or an old pro looking to add some new goodies to your existing collection (hello to you too!), Health & Sex Editor Katherine Speller is here to help SheKnows readers level-up their bedside tables, toy chests and/or DIY sex dungeons with the tools they need to feel deeply satisfied — and give some pro-tips on how introduce some of these new toys and tools into your sex life along the way.
Write in to let us know what you’re into, what you want to be into or what you’re in the market for via our hotline (we’ll keep things anonymous, of course) and we’ll do our very best to drop a range of toys and sexual health products that meet your tastes, wants and needs. While money certainly can’t buy you love, it can buy you orgasms — which can be just as good, TBH.
The stresses of day-to-day life can always make love and loving feel a little bit harder. Whether it’s scheduling sex, trying to find a quiet moment to just be or trying to find a way to shake things up, it’s completely normal for our sex lives to go through different eras, for them to need a bit more tending and communication during some points than others, and to see the ways we share intimate time grow and change and evolve with us.
That’s why I was really excited (particularly on Valentine’s Day) to answer a question from this reader:
My partner and I have been together for four years or so and had always had a very fun and adventurous sex life — maybe we’re stressed out and busy but things have felt a lot less fun lately. I know it’s unrealistic but I don’t want to see our ‘honeymoon phase’ (sex-wise) end.
I’d love some toys or ideas for how to add some more joy and fun into what feels like routine sex?
– Joyful Noise
I really love this question because it touches on so many things that I think are important and come up in conversations about our sex lives: That they are a moving, breathing and evolving part of our relationships and that they should, ideally, be fun.
To start, I want to talk about the “honeymoon phase” part, because it totally resonated with me. Of course, you don’t want to see that end! The connection, attraction and newness of New Relationship Energy (NRE, as our poly friends call it) is no joke — and to feel that level of sexual chemistry sustain for four years is pretty dang impressive and likely speaks to you and your partner having a good sense of how to prioritize one another, your intimacy and your pleasure already.
So I get it, not wanting that phase to phase on by — but also want to make it clear that every single relationship (romantic or not) has phases, changes and evolutions. Experiencing those changes is a part of the privilege of getting to grow with another person. Think back to the you from four years ago (or four years prior to that) and try and think about all the ways you and your needs have changed. I’m sure your partner also did some changing during that period, too.
It’s more than okay to love and cherish the time when you first fell in love, but you don’t want to tell yourself the story that these natural evolutions, changes or ups and downs (because of stress, work or life) are going to be the death knell for your fun and adventurous sex life. With good communication and clarity on how everyone is feeling, you can know that a dry spell (because they happen with people in relationships all the time too!) isn’t forever and doesn’t need to be a cause for panic.
So my first suggestion? It’s a talking one (shocker). Find a good way to have a conversation with your partner to check in. It’s not saying “Hey, sex isn’t fun anymore. What’s good?” (don’t do that, if you can avoid it) but instead trying to get the topic of your sex life at its best back on the table. Saying “I want to talk about our sex life” and asking them how they’ve been feeling about it recently. Saying “Hey, I loved when we did X together. Or that time we did Y. Do you think we could give that a go this weekend?” or getting curious and asking your partner about their own favorite experiences with you, the parts of your sex life that they love and seeing if you can have a conversation about how you can go about prioritizing those things together.
And, of course, if there are things like mental health, work or life stresses getting in the way of intimate time, see if you can settle in for some shared self-care time. It can be cuddling, massaging one another, watching or listening to something you both love, making something together, doing one task one of you have been putting off together — these things can make all parties feel cared for and connected, even if sex isn’t the end goal.
But sometimes better sex is the end goal, so we’re also going to talk about that. I love that you’re asking about joy and fun here because I personally think a lot of the sex stresses (who is initiating, what are we doing or not doing, do I look stupid like this?) can be taken down a notch by reframing the whole affair as play. Whether you’re engaging in kink and role play or more vanilla acts, this is one way to think about what you’re doing together: You’re playing with your partner. It doesn’t have to be that serious or intense or anxiety-inducing, it can be just play.
So here’s some ideas I have for getting into that headspace:
Try a Sex Game
Take play literally. This can be as easy as playing Simon Says or making a bet with sexual prizes for the winner. Lean in to your play language as a couple and see what ideas come to mind.
You can also pick up one of the card games for couples on the market — something like the TikTok-famous Let’s Get Deep that offers some social lubricant for partners with intimate questions about how they see the world and relationships (or, in the case of the spicy expansion pack) sex.
Another cool one for kinky folks and those who aspire to be, Funishment, a card game surrounding kink, consent and communication is also a great NSFW option.
I’m a huge proponent of app- and remote-controlled toys because I think they offer a lot of ways to rethink the stimulation you like to give to or receive from your partner when you can get your hands on one another. They also offer a very interesting perspective on playful foreplay — settle in for a movie or TV show or even some weekend chores and add a little extra spice or set up some tease-y tension.
Two great options for this kind of play are Tracy’s Dog OG Pro 2, which comes with a cute little remote (great for vulva owners who love vibration and suction) and for penis-owners the OhMiBod blueMotion NEX3 Couple’s Ring, a wearable vibrating penis ring that you can wear during intercourse too.
Lean in to the absurd
So my partner really loves Pokémon. This is a recurring bit in our relationship and I generally think it’s cute. That is until I told him I saw a Pokeball-shaped vibrator (in a snarky “can you believe this is a thing?” way) and I saw his eyes go wide like “whoa, that exists?” in a decidedly earnest “omg, can you believe this is a thing?!” way.
Reader, I got it for him. Even though I at first thought it was too weird for me, that I wouldn’t be able to get lost in the moment without thinking about it’s funky little shape or the implications of us using it to get off (was I the Pokémon now?) because it sparked joy, it made him smile and it allowed us both to giggle just a little bit more and, whether we knew it or not, it did help take the pressure off what sex can look like for us.
(It’s also a super serviceable toy (feels like one of my favorite wands, just without the wand part), BTW — and we play with it often.)
But I realized that to let a toy spark that kind of joy, it was important for us both to give ourselves permission to let it be fun, to lean into the nerdy and absurd-y parts of us and let the toy be a toy.
And we still get to enjoy all the laughter and pleasure that came from that decision. I wish nothing but the same for you!
Before you go, check out the 69 (nice!) sex positions to add to your bucket list:
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