This might rank as one of the questions I see the most; it’s usually asked by cis men shopping for a (usually first) sex toy for their cis woman partner. If the question is asked vaguely in a more public forum the answers from others most often include the Magic Wand; if the seeker has any ideas it’s usually either a suction cup toy or a rabbit vibrator. I have great reservations about willy-nilly recommending something as high-powered as the Magic Wand for most people’s first vibrator and of course I have strong feelings about rabbit vibrators. Speaking as both a professional sex toy critic and someone whose own first sex toys were purchased by her boyfriend1, I’ve got a lot of opinions and feels on this topic as a whole so it’s time I answer this question long-form.
Who Really Wants It?
Frequently the request for advice is accompanied by “she doesn’t know what she wants, she told me to find her something” or the request is for something to surprise them. I have to admit that it’s times like these that I wonder if she has actually made the request. The only way I can imagine letting someone pick out a sex toy for me would be if I actually didn’t want one and had no intention of using it. If I wanted it then I would be the one to shop for it (or shop with my partner). I feel like if I could better understand the mindset of someone who is so laissez-faire about the topic that they give their partner carte blanche, then I could better answer the queries.
When someone asks the “I/we want a vibrator” question and starts out very vague, I run through a list of questions. I try to avoid recommending specific sex toys without knowing details about the person using them. Let’s be realistic – my favorite vibrator, the Tango, is going to be too intense/pinpoint/hard for some people. You shouldn’t be buying a sex toy for someone else unless you are absolutely certain you have the correct answers to these questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how easily can they orgasm from manual clitoral stimulation alone? 1 being never or very rarely, 5 being easily and often.
- Do they know where their g-spot is? Have they successfully experienced pleasure from massaging it?
- What size?And no, “small” or “large” are not specific answers. If you, their partner, have a penis go measure yourself. Be sure you know if they want something the same size as you, bigger, or smaller. In the US most sex toy shops measure their insertables by telling you the diameter of the widest portion (elsewhere you’re told the circumferece) and yes, when it comes to diameter a mere 1/4″ inch can make a big difference. I can enjoy a 1.75″ wide dildo but will run away from a 2″ wide dildo. A 1.25″ vibrator is just too slender for me while a 1.5″ (or slightly bigger) is perfect.
- What shape? Some people do like perfectly straight toys, some really prefer a curved shaft or curved tip. Some would like a tapered shape, while some would prefer that the head is the largest part. This may be something you only learn by trial and error.
- What color / level of realism? Are you really sure your partner wants a heavily realistic sex toy?
- Have they ever owned a sex toy before and if so which one and how much did they like it? What were the pros and cons?
- Do they like direct clitoral stimulation? Some require pinpoint stimulation and some hate it, and would prefer a wand-style vibrator.
Champagne Wishes and Rabbit Dreams
The rabbit vibrator, a dual-stimulation sex toy, seems to be what people think is the ultimate holy grail vibrator. I can understand – it seems to do it all! It provides the internal and external stimulation simultaneously and easily while having more options than you can shake a stick at. But the rabbit vibes that many people are drawn to are, for some reason, the porous ones with the rows of plastic beads under the skin that rotate in various directions. I’ve personally never thought much of the rotating ones, but that’s just me.
There’s a lot of problems with buying a rabbit vibe:
- The Motors: Instead of worrying about 1 motor being the right intensity and type (rumbly vs buzzy) now you have two motors to worry about. Many rabbit vibes seem to have a more intense internal arm than clitoral arm which was always the opposite of my needs
- The Fit: Genitals aren’t the same; there isn’t a formula. Some have a smaller, buried clitoris. Some have larger labia. Some have a clitoris that is closer to the vaginal opening, some are farther away. Some have a g-spot that is right inside the entrance, some have one a little further in. Some prefer A-spot stimulation, and the A-spot is closer to the cervix than the G-spot is. Some people like pressure on/near their clitoris, some don’t. And while I’d like to say that there’s a rabbit vibe out there for everyone, there isn’t (or at least you shouldn’t spend the $500 it may take to find your perfect rabbit vibe).
- The Fit, Part 2: And then after all of that, we have to worry about the width and shape of the internal arm.
- They can be overly complicated or too simplistic – depending on how many buttons, options and settings there are
- They can be expensive – at least many of the better ones are, but there are some decent, affordable ones. Sadly many of the cheap ones are worthless.
- They’re more likely to break, and sooner – It’s like the old days when you could buy a TV with a VCR or DVD player built in…what happens when one part dies? The more parts, the more motors, the greater chances of an early demise.
I have a few favorites, but by and large, I hate recommending them until I’m absolutely certain that someone knows exactly what they need and we can find numerous blogger reviews of the rabbit to ensure that the motors are going to suffice. It’s just better to buy two separate toys, I think. This way you have more variety and leeway.
Dildo vs Vibrator
People who don’t understand the types of sex toys may say dildo but mean vibrator. They may think that anything you insert is called a dildo, and if it vibrates it’s a vibrating dildo. While they aren’t really wrong, it leads to confusion when you’re talking to someone who is aware of the nuances of the industry. A dildo is an insertable object that doesn’t vibrate. A vibrating dildo is a dildo that has a removable motor, like Tantus products. A vibrating dildo could also aptly describe the (rarely silicone) highly realistic, squishy things that vibrate2. But most things that vibrate that are meant for insertion are just merely called “vibrators” and left at that. They may resemble a penis or not at all. They’re usually broken down into categories: Mini vibrators and clitoral vibrators are often interachangable3; G-spot vibrators usually have a curved shaft, a curved tip or a bulbous tip; “Classic” vibrators are usually straight. Decent shops will also have an anal vibrator category, which should only feature vibrators that have a flared base or some design feature that prevents the vibrator from getting lost up inside the butt. Many brands will claim their product is an anal sex toy when it doesn’t have a flared base, but that’s a rant for another day.
I’ve also seen a lot of dudes looking to simply get a sex toy, any sex toy; and without asking their partner first they just gravitate towards a dildo – the reason may very well lay in their insecurities. A lot of people, especially cis men, believe that a sex toy will replace them, that they are in competition with a sex toy. They don’t want their partner to have a vibrator because they “can’t compete with that”. This level of controlling behavior and irrational insecurity is probably best kept for another post, but suffice to say that every person is different and some may prefer dildos while some really need a vibrator. If I can’t orgasm from cock by itself, I’m unlikely to orgasm from a dildo by itself.
Unless you can answer all of the questions I listed above, then any recommendation will be a random guess. Even with all of the information from you/your partner, a recommendation is a guess, but an educated guess and more likely than not to be correct. I really don’t want to see you wasting your money which is why I’m writing this post and why I’m giving you the answer you don’t want which is: shop with your partner, not for your partner. There are a lot of awesome surprise gifts out there that you can buy; sex toys usually aren’t one of them. The bonus? Shopping together, whether it’s in-store or online, is really fun. It builds anticipation, sparks communication, and more.
One more reason why I’m so reluctant to make recommendations for your partner: if you choose wrong, the whole thing may backfire on you. Your partner may actually be upset if you chose something drastically different than what they would have picked for themselves.
The best way to pick out a sex toy is to make sure you both research every aspect. Start out by reading guides that introduce you to the various types of sex toys. Make sure you understand what a body-safe sex toy material really is (and what it’s not) and the issues with porosity. The last thing we want is for someone’s sex toy to cause genital itching or burning and have them be scared of sex toys after that. There are thousands of body-safe sex toys out there. And keep in mind that a sex toy is going to feel different from a penis or fingers – so just because your penis is 1.5 inches diameter doesn’t always mean that that’s the perfect size for a sex toy – because of the firmness your partner may find they want their sex toys to be slightly smaller than you. Or because a sex toy is wielded differently than a penis, it could mean that they can tolerate (and want) a sex toy larger than you. There are a lot of under-$50 body-safe dildos to choose from so before you invest in something like a high-quality dual density silicone, or high-quality metal, glass and wood sex toys, you should try out an affordable silicone dildo to get a decent idea of whether or not a size is right for you & your partner.
A few exceptions to the rule of “no surprises” come into play when the item is meant to be used by them, on you (like buying them an upgraded strap-on harness after you’ve tried pegging and you’re both into it) or when you skate from sex toys to BDSM products.
As always, I’m happy to help you find the right sex toy but needed to get into detail about why the most common request is such a difficult subject to tackle. If I’ve directed you here then hopefully this post will help you understand why I’m not just randomly suggesting a few products – let’s work towards getting your partner a sex toy they’ll enjoy, and avoid you wasting money!