Sex toys are often discussed as replacements or stand-ins for a partner, as if you’d only pick one up as a last resort if there was no human dick or pussy to be had. But the truth is, they can provide pleasure in any sexual situation, whether you’re having a self-love sesh, a one-on-one encounter, a threesome or even a full-on orgy. Far from replacing or upstaging a human, often they just enhance the sexual skills and responses you already have, making for a much more explosive experience.
They’re also just fun — I mean, obviously; the word “toy” is in their name! If the sex you’re having ever starts to feel boring, overly serious or uninspired, toys can perk it up by introducing a fresh new element. Figuring out new toys together builds intimacy, too, in the same way that you can bond with a partner over the struggles of assembling an IKEA dresser. As you learn which buttons do what on your new toy — and use it to push each other’s buttons — you’ll learn more about your partner’s sexuality, and your own.
What Makes a Sex Toy Couples-Friendly?
“Almost any toy can be used by couples, but there are some qualities that can make it easier to share, as well as toys that are specifically designed for two to play with at once,” says Searah Deysach, a sex educator and owner of the Chicago sex shop Early to Bed. Here’s some factors to think about when shopping for toys to use together…
1) Versatility. Deysach recommends thinking through the different potential uses of any toy you’re considering buying, and aiming to get one that can be used in a lot of different ways. A wand vibrator, for example, can be used for genital pleasure and all-over body massage regardless of your gender or anatomy. It’s nice when a “couples’ toy” is versatile enough to be used solo, too, since your partner won’t always be around, or in the mood when you are.
2) Dual Pleasure. “Toys that have an impact on two bodies at once, like vibrating penis rings, are also well-suited for couples to use together,” Deysach says. Double-ended dildos would also fall into this category, for example, as would strap-ons that pleasure the wearer with vibration or other bells and whistles. It can definitely be fun to use a toy on your partner even if it doesn’t give you direct physical pleasure (ever seen someone’s eyes roll back in their head when you thrust a dildo inside them just right?), but there’s something magical about toys that can get you both off, maybe even simultaneously.
3) Enhances Sex Acts You Love. Sex toys are essentially tools meant to enhance pleasure and fun, so it makes sense to add them into activities you already know you enjoy. That’s not to say you shouldn’t branch out and try new things, but there are lots of toys that can make tried-and-true sex acts like oral and penetrative sex feel even better.
4) Fits Between Bodies. “Something with a bit of reach, or something that naturally fits between bodies or in your hand, is great for couples,” says Erica Van Kuppeveld, a sex educator and dildo maker. Unlike with solo sex, when you’re with a partner, you’re not gonna have infinite room to use huge, unwieldy toys, especially if your bodies are pressed against one another — so keep shape and size constraints in mind when shopping. You don’t want to feel crowded out of bed by a vibrator.
5) Remote Controllability. Some sex toys come with a remote, or connect to a smartphone app, so that you can control them without needing to press the buttons on the toy directly. This is totally optional, but can be helpful in lots of sexy situations — like if you want to tease your partner with vibrations while you’re out on a date, make them feel good while they’re miles away on a business trip or just change a vibrator’s settings without needing to pause what you’re doing.
Also worth noting: the sex toy industry is unregulated, so unfortunately, it’s rife with materials that are less-than-great for your genital health. Avoid porous materials, like rubber and elastomer, when possible — these hold onto bacteria and can’t be fully cleaned, which can result in infections and irritation. You’ll also want to avoid phthalates, a class of chemicals often used in cheap toy materials like PVC and rubber, as these are associated with irritation and various health issues that could really kill the mood. Instead, look for toys made of non-porous, phthalate-free materials, like silicone, hard plastic, stainless steel, glass and lacquered wood.
Got it? Good. Let’s talk about some of the best toys to use with a partner if you want to turn good sex into great sex, or great sex into sensational sex.
This vibrator might just be the quintessential couples’ toy. Meant to be worn during penetrative sex, one “arm” of the toy stimulates the clit on the outside, while the other rumbles the G-spot on the inside.
Van Kuppeveld likes to recommend this toy for couples because it can be controlled via We-Vibe’s app, from nearby or far away, and because the motor is powerful enough to amp up pleasure for both partners during sex. She also points out that it can be used for purposes other than the one it’s designed for — you can loop it around a penis to add some vibration to a hand job, for example, or use it as a regular clitoral vibe during masturbation.
Van Kuppeveld raves about the motor of this toy — its vibrations are low-pitched, so that they get deeper into the body and don’t cause as much of the temporary numbness that surface-level vibrations can produce.
The weird stingray-esque shape of this vibe gives it a lot of versatility that’ll make it useful for couples of all anatomies. You can target sensitive spots precisely with the pointed tip, massage larger areas with the broad body of the toy or even wrap its flexible wings around a penis to add some rumbles to your stroke. Its contoured shape allows it to slide between bodies easily too, and you can even tuck it into some types of harness to make strap-on sex more pleasurable for the wearer. With its six different intensity settings and eight vibration patterns, this toy gives you tons of sensations to explore.
Vibrating cock rings can do a lot. They help you have stronger, longer-lasting erections, stimulate the base of your penis during sex or masturbation and can pleasure your partner’s clit or perineum while you’re banging.
This one is stretchy enough to fit a wide range of dick diameters. Best of all is the vibrator attached to it, which is powerful, rumbly and waterproof. I like this one during penetrative sex, but find that it really shines when used for fingering or hand jobs — you can slide two or three fingers through the loop and use them to finger-bang somebody while the vibe stimulates their external bits, or to jerk someone off with some additional vibration. Don’t forget the water-based lube!
This panty vibrator uses a strong magnet to attach to your underwear, so you can position it on whatever spot feels best and it’ll more-or-less stay put, even while you’re out and about. Like most We-Vibe toys, this one can be paired with the We-Connect smartphone app, in which you can create and share vibration patterns and hand over control of the vibrations to a partner. “This gives couples lots of creative ways to play when they’re together, or if you use the app, even when apart,” says Deysach.
Couples who enjoy discreet public play often dig panty vibes like these, but even if you’d rather keep your sex life behind closed doors, you can still make use of this toy’s deliciously strong motor and variety of vibration settings.
This versatile kit comes with a blindfold, a remote-control bullet vibrator and three silicone attachments you can use with it. One attachment turns the vibe into a cock ring, one makes it into a butt plug and one concentrates the vibrations into two flexible “bunny ears” for gentle, pinpointed stimulation. Using this kit, “two people of any gender can have a ball exploring many points of pleasure on their bodies,” Deysach says.
One of the best things about using sex toys with a partner is the way they can encourage playfulness and experimentation. Not all sex has to be serious and goal-oriented; sometimes it’s fun to just try stuff out, laugh about what doesn’t quite work and enjoy what does. This kit gives you plenty of options to explore, at a reasonable price.
The Magic Wand is quite possibly the most famous vibrator in the world. This behemoth of a vibe has been going strong since the 1960s and is still a go-to for many people today. This version is a rechargeable update on the original, so you’ll no longer be chained to an outlet when you want mega-powerful vibrations. “You can use it in a number of different positions on different bodies,” says Van Kuppeveld. For P-in-V sex, though, it’s best suited for rear-entry positions because, well, it’s large, and missionary doesn’t leave much room for power tools.
Deysach also points out that there are lots of attachments available for the Magic Wand, which can channel its legendarily strong vibrations into smaller shapes — like dual rabbit ears for clitoral stimulation, or a stroker made for penises. Gender, anatomy and sexuality are of no consequence to this versatile wand; if you like turbo-charged vibrations, you can find a way (or multiple ways) to use it.
It might be hard to imagine blow jobs ever getting boring, but hey, it could happen. This uniquely shaped vibrator is designed to curve around the shaft of your dick, stimulating it either in conjunction with other things (like your hand or your partner’s mouth) or all on its own.
The “wings” of the toy are flexible, allowing it to fit a lot of different penis sizes. Make sure to use water-based lube with this toy, though; the ridgey texture on the inside of it can feel abrasive when it’s dry, but boosts sensation substantially when lubed up. The motor is super powerful — if you’ve never experienced the magic of using a penis vibrator, this is a wonderful one to consider.
Another great blow job accessory is this open-ended stroker. “It’s typically seen as a solo-play object, but it doesn’t have to be,” Van Kuppeveld says. The Quickshot uses the soft, squishy, proprietary material that’s made Fleshlight the biggest name in the stroker business, but it covers less of your dick than a standard Fleshlight, freeing up some room for your partner to add their mouth into the equation.
As someone who likes to stare at cocks (what can I say, I’m a perv), I enjoy that this translucent toy gives me an up-close view of the action if my partner jerks off with it beside me, or if we get sexy over FaceTime while physically apart.
This stainless steel beaut is one of the most effective tools ever for hitting the G-spot or prostate. It’s also pretty easy to use on a partner, so long as you can handle the weight, because its deep curve guides you to the right spot almost effortlessly, and the metal sphere at each end works well as a handle. Many people — myself included — find that super-firm materials like steel can reliably induce squirting, so if that’s something you’re curious about, lay down a thick towel and give this a go.
A word of warning, though: Go slow initially when you’re using this toy on someone else, and keep the lines of communication open. Being pounded by a metal object can either be really sexy or really painful, and it takes care and focus to avoid the latter.
While this vibrating butt plug aims for the prostate, Van Kuppeveld says the sensations of anal vibration can feel good on people with vaginas too. There are a lot of nerve endings in that area regardless of anatomy, and the curve of this plug could hit the G-spot indirectly through the vaginal wall.
Vibrating butt plugs are fun all on their own, but you can dial things up by wearing one during any kind of sex (other than anal sex, obviously — even an experienced butthole has its limits!). You can also control this one with your smartphone for some long-distance fun.
This “sex pillow” is one of those products that you might not think you need, until you try it and wonder where the hell it’s been all your life. Made of high-density foam, the Wedge offers support for just about any sex position you can dream up. To name just a few examples: You can put it under your hips (or your partner’s) to change the angle of penetration, hang onto it to keep your balance in a rear-entry position or use it to elevate your partner’s junk so you can give them head for longer without neck pain.
The velvety microfiber covering can be zipped off and thrown in the washing machine. Sex gets messy, and it’s nice to use the Wedge instead of just shoving a regular pillow under your hips, because no one likes to sleep on a jizzy pillow. (Well, I’m sure some people do, but you know what I mean…)
Couples who are curious about bondage need this restraint kit. Once you install the straps underneath your mattress — which takes just a couple minutes — you’ll have two wrist cuffs and two ankle cuffs attached to your bed, so you can cuff your partner in a spread-eagle position quickly when you want to. The straps are adjustable and should work with all bed sizes and body sizes — and you can tuck the cuffs under your mattress when you’re not using them, if you don’t want to advertise your kinks to the world.
Once someone’s cuffed to your bed, there’s a lot you can do to them (with their consent, naturally): massage them, go down on them, tickle them, spank them, use toys on them, etc. Bondage is a fun “gateway drug” into other kinks for many people, but it can also be super fun and hot by itself.