Let me describe the scene for you: a dark, small, musty room filled from floor to ceiling with pornography, toys, condoms, lubricants and some terrifyingly large, cylindrical shaped things resting in a particularly dark, particularly musty corner of the room.
At the checkout, a scantily clad, very attractive cashier watches your every move because they want to know what you’re buying. The parking lot outside is probably dark, mostly vacant and maybe there’s a full moon (or storm clouds, whatever’s more diabolical).
If this is the (hyperbolic) image in your head when you hear the words “sex shop,” then we need to dispel some sex store myths and talk about your sexual well-being.
“Only deviants go to sex shops.”
In a time where most porn is free to watch online and necessities for sex can be purchased at any grocery store or pharmacy, there’s reason to wonder why a visit to your local sex shop is even necessary.
Okay, yes, I did just describe the place as if it were a location to visit in “Silent Hill,” but sex shops don’t actually look like places where torture porn is filmed (the nice ones, anyway). The adult store closest to my house is located in an old warehouse-type building, so it’s quite large and the interior—with its red, sparkly carpet and olive-colored walls—is warm, welcoming and clean.
Another sex shop I frequent is about 30 minutes from my house. It’s considerably smaller, but their selection of products tends to be higher quality because it’s more of a boutique. I also visited three sex shops while I was living overseas in Russia, and I can happily say that there are no horror stories to report there (apologies to those of you who are bummed out by this.).
What I’m getting at is that the chances of anyone walking into a sex store that could double as the scene for a triple homicide is pretty unlikely—probably because the owners of these shops want customers coming in and buying stuff.
Speaking of buying stuff, let’s talk about the staff. Remember my fictional, super attractive cashier who watches your every move? That guy (or girl) doesn’t exist. While I can’t comment on the attractiveness of every sex shop worker, I can say this: The staff at a sex shop don’t care what you’re buying, only that you’re buying.
Chances are, whatever you’re purchasing is nowhere near as bizarre, strange or “sexually deviant” as the guy who comes in two or three times a week to purchase gallon drums of lubricant and multiple fleshlights (let’s not even begin to consider what he might be doing with any of it).
Like any staff member at a retail shop, a lot of them know the products and, if you describe what you’re looking for, they can usually point you in the right direction. If you’re nervous about talking to an employee because you think they’ll judge you for asking which vibrator is the quietest, just tell them you’re nervous. They’re used to dealing with nervous, embarrassed people.
If you start sweating at the thought of even walking into a sex shop, go with friends or with your significant other. And if you’re sitting here thinking, “WHAT? I can’t talk to my girl/boyfriend about my sexual needs!” then we need to talk about your sexual well being.
“Am I not enough for you?”
I’m betting a lot of girls, and maybe even some guys, who have broached the subject of using toys with their significant other have been met with this question. The proper answer to it is, “No, you’re not.”
While this may sound harsh, you should consider your own sexual health, and whether or not you and your significant other have a good sex life. A “good” sex life isn’t “good” because you and your S.O. are always having sex. A good sex life is one where both parties not only want to have sex, but are deriving equal pleasure from it.
For girls and women, deriving pleasure from sex can be difficult. Sometimes, vaginal penetration is not enough and, more often than not, many men simply don’t know what their girlfriend or wife likes. Usually, ladies are too shy or embarrassed (or maybe their boyfriend isn’t listening) to communicate their needs, especially during intercourse.
But how does any of this tie into visiting a sex shop? Simple: If you’re struggling to communicate with your significant other about what your sexual needs are, you should visit a sex shop—particularly with the person with whom you’re having sex.
“What are my sexual needs?”
When you enter a sex shop, you’ll probably do a lot of giggling, especially if you’re with friends or your SO. However, between the joking around about the fist-shaped dildos and the bizarre, blow-up butts they sell, try to find a few minutes to consider what your sexual needs or desires are.
Ladies, if you’ve never tried a vibrator, ask an employee to recommend one to you and buy it (seriously—you won’t regret it).
At the sex shop I go to, there’s a table with a bunch of vibrators and dildos. They’re there for you to pick up, touch, test the vibrations, hear how loud/quiet it is and so on. If your local store doesn’t have a display like this, you can always pick out a couple of vibrators and then ask a clerk to open up the packages so you can get to know the product before buying it.
If you’re the type of woman who has trouble having an orgasm because vaginal penetration isn’t enough—and maybe your guy is trying to hit the right buttons, but you still need more—a vibrator is probably the right toy for you. Try it out solo first and then use it during sex to see how it feels.
Vibrators typically feel good for guys, too, because they can feel the vibrations when they’re moving in and out. For girls whose boyfriends are resistant to the use of toys, try explaining that their use will not only spice things up between the sheets, but it will help you to achieve orgasm (and what guy would want to deny his lady an orgasm?).
For guys in a sex store, you should also consider your sexual needs and desires. More often than not, guys resist things like anal play out of fear that their friends, or possibly even their girlfriend or wife, will think they’re gay. First, you should never feel ashamed for wanting to try something new in the bedroom. Second, if your significant other puts you down simply for expressing the desire to try something different, there’s both a communication issue and a lack of respect.
That being said, you should never force your significant other to do something with which they aren’t comfortable. Not only will that lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment, but it may also later become full blown resentment.
For guys not interested in toys for themselves, sex stores also have a much better selection of condoms and lubricants than a typical pharmacy or grocery, and sex shops also sell candles, massage oils, lingerie, books and even candies/gels meant to be used during oral sex (like Pop Rocks).
If your lady is unsure or nervous about the use of toys, try purchasing something small and noninvasive, like nipple cream (it’s flavored, warming and it tingles) or vibrating underwear. Your girlfriend or wife may be more willing to try something like vibrating underwear since vibrating underwear is just underwear with a vibrating piece sewn into the lining (where a panty liner would sit).
“I can’t believe there are 15 sequels to ‘Big Booty Butts.’”
Finally, the best part of any sex store visit: bonding over the strange and funny things you’ll find. When my boyfriend and I first went into our local sex shop together, we were both nervous and I was profusely sweating. We decided to look at the movies first because pornos aren’t really known for their titles or storylines. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. The first movie we came across was a porno spoof of “Harry Potter” and it was sitting next to a porno spoof of “Captain America.”
Further down the line, we found movies that were titled things like “Gaping Holes 19” and “Big Booty Butts 16.” By walking down the movie aisle first, we were able to dispel our nervousness by laughing at the absurd titles. If you’re anxious about going to a sex shop, especially with your SO, communicate this and then ease your way into it by bonding over the weird stuff you’ll find. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t laugh at a 20-inch, banana shaped dildo?