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Buying a sex toy for your partner can feel like a bit of a risky move.

You want them to like it, of course, and you hope that they’ll use it—but you also don’t want to offend them, overstep a boundary, or give the wrong impression that your sex life with them is somehow lacking. 

Even after you’ve made the choice to buy a toy for your partner, browsing through the available options online or in a store can be massively intimidating! Would they use a vibrator? How can you hint that you want them to use it with you? And will they be totally freaked out if you buy them that anal toy—or will they love it?

If you reckon you’re ready to take the plunge and surprise your partner with a new piece of bedroom kit, read on for our tips on how to buy them something that they’ll love. 

Get an idea of what they like

It probably sounds obvious, but the first thing you should consider when buying a sex toy for your partner is what they enjoy. Ask yourself what they’ve previously liked in the bedroom and whether they’ve shared any fantasies with you that could reveal what sort of toy they might enjoy using. (Alternately, you can give your partner a hint—literally—using our Give A Hint function, and send them a toy you’re thinking of!)

As an example, if you’ve recently been delving into anal play together and they’ve expressed to you that they sometimes involve their anus when masturbating, they might really love to be given a butt plug. But you’ve never discussed anal and they’ve never so much as hinted that they might be into it, a butt plug is probably not going to be number one on their wishlist.

While it might be tempting to give your partner a hint in the form of a gift—buying them that butt plug because you’ve always wanted to try anal play, for example—we reckon this is not good gifting etiquette. It’s a bit like Homer Simpson buying Marge that bowling ball when he knew very well she wasn’t into bowling! A gift should be relatively selfless and focus firstly on your partner’s pleasure.

Shop together if you’re not sure

If you’re just not sure of what your partner might like, take the guesswork out of the situation by looking for a sex toy together. Broaching the topic of buying a toy doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, either.

You can start by talking a little more about the sex you’re having, and what you enjoy about it: “You really seemed to like it when I touched you there,” or, “It feels great when you do this to me” are good ways to open a conversation about what you both like, and you can use it as a jumping-off point to discuss masturbation and toys. “Have you ever tried doing this when you masturbate?” or, “I’ve actually seen a sex toy that’s made for this…” can move the conversation on to the topic without feeling forced.

If you don’t quite feel comfortable asking your partner directly what they like, try a questionnaire that focuses on your shared sexual fantasies. Our Sexual Fingerprint Quiz and the We Should Try It app both allow you and your partner to explore the compatibility of your sexual fantasies. Perhaps you could take the quiz with your partner, and use some of your unexplored fantasies to inspire your toy choice. “Wow, I didn’t know you also wanted to experiment with a blindfold—should we have a look online and buy one?”

Buy something you can use together

Buying a toy you and your partner can use together is great, because it gives you the experience of trying something new with each other. Using a vibrator or masturbator on your partner, experimenting with anal play on each other, or incorporating nipple clamps or restraints into your sexual routine are all ways to try using toys together. If you get to the end of your session and completely love your new bedroom addition, great—but if you both realise it hasn’t quite worked for you, you can decide to try again another time. Or simply have a laugh and congratulate yourselves on stepping out of your comfort zones, even if only for a night! If you're looking for versatile partnered options, take a look at a wand vibrator like Charlie, a palm vibrator like Billie or a bullet vibrator like Frankie - and if you're looking for something more focussed on one partner, a c-ring like Flynn or a clitoral vibrator like Quinn are great options.

If you choose a toy that you can both use on yourselves, remember that the rules you’ve established in your relationship about contraception and protection still apply to sex toys. Bodily fluids can remain on toys after use, which means that semen and STIs can be passed between partners who share the same toys. If you don’t want to interrupt your session and clean off your toy using antibacterial soap or a sex toy cleaner, try using condoms or dental dams over the toy so it’s easier to share—just remember to change them after each use.

…or buy something to use apart

If you and your partner don’t live together, or spend a lot of time apart for work or travel, it might be worth buying a toy that’s designed to be used over long distances.

Some vibrators, for example, can be controlled by an app that’s installed on your phone. You and your partner could install the app on each other’s phone and have fun controlling the vibrations from afar. Add in a sexy phone call, video chat, or text conversation and you can feel super connected with each other even if you are in different cities or countries.

Otherwise, something fun and a little bit silly like a ‘clone a willy’ kit can be a cute way to give your partner something to remember you by when you’re away. Even if they don’t end up using the replica for its intended purpose, you’ll still have spent an afternoon together playing around and trying to make a mold of your genitals—if all else fails, at least you can have a laugh about it together.

And if you’re still not sure…

If you’re not keen to have the ‘sex toy conversation’ with your partner yet and you can’t guess what they might like, you can always buy them a gift voucher. Print it out and leave it for them to find or send it to their email (just make sure it’s not their work email!) and write a little note inviting them to show you what they purchase once it arrives.

You never know—they might switch things up and invite you to help them decide what to spend the voucher on...