Turn-on? Or Creep-out?

A male reader wrote to me recently. He’s “turned on” at the thought of his wife using a vibrator and wants to incorporate it into their sex life. The problem is that his wife is “creeped out” at the thought and won’t consider it. This dilemma presents several issues that I think can be instructive to explore. The first issue has to do with respect. We’re all at different points with regard to what turns us on and our openness to new approaches. Trying something new takes a willingness to explore and be vulnerable—and that can’t be forced, especially in intimate relationships. Otherwise, rather than feeling close and connected, your lovemaking will feel tense and coerced. Respecting boundaries is fundamental to a loving relationship. That said, it’s also important to keep an open mind about what pleases your partner. Grownups do all kinds of things in bed, and as long as it’s safe, consensual, and pleasurable for both partners, there’s no right or wrong. The willingness to try something new, especially if it’s a “turn on” to your partner, is a loving act. And, who knows, you might like it, too. When you encounter resistance from your partner to an idea or suggestion, you need to take a step back. Maybe discuss exactly what turns her off about, say, using a vibrator. Maybe she’d be more receptive to something smaller and less intrusive. Maybe she needs to try it alone first. On the other hand, you could also talk about what your partner finds arousing. What has she always wanted to try? What are her fantasies? Try a trade-off. You do something for your partner, then switch roles. There are some very good reasons to use a vibrator. They help us maintain vaginal health and boost blood circulation. They give us the strong, consistent stimulation we may need to reach orgasm. Using a vibrator, either alone or as a couple, isn’t “creepy” by most standards, and it isn’t particularly unusual. In fact, studies consistently show that introducing new things to your sexual routine in the form of toys, sex aids, or places and positions is helpful in maintaining a healthy sexual relationship. If you’re at an impasse, you might consider continuing the discussion with a sex therapist, who can provide perspective and suggestions for moving forward in a loving way. But the bottom line is that you need to respect your partner’s boundaries, communicate about your desires and fantasy as well as your fears, keep an open mind, and be willing to incorporate new things into your sex regimen.

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