Whether you’re on your own or with someone else, adding sex toys into your sex life can be a little intimidating. But if you're feeling like you need to shake things up in the pleasure department, toys are always a particularly popular suggestion. And while, yes, vibrators and plugs and all the rest can be a fun way to explore your sexuality, if that’s not of interest to you, that’s all good. There are plenty of things to try if you aren't ready for sex toys that are just as exciting and pleasurable, if not more so. It's all about getting creative with your mind and body!
And as Danyell Fima, co-founder of Velvet Co. tells Bustle, working on having open communication is the foundation to great sex. So when it comes to engaging in any kind of sexual act, "consent in advance is everything," he says. But don't let the potential of awkwardness when discussing your desire for new experiences with a partner stop you from trying! Chances are, your partner(s) might be just as excited and nervous to get a little freaky and explore as you are.
And trust, the whole communication thing really holds true whether you are on your own or with others. The goal is to take things slow and make sure everyone involved is comfortable. So check in with yourself. From there on, your pleasure chariot awaits!
Here are eight expert-recommended alternatives to sex toys.
1. Pretend To Be Strangers With A Partner
Really, you can try any kind of role play with a consenting partner, from being Star Wars characters to a teacher and a student. While it might feel a little awkward at first, get theatrical! No one ever said laughing isn't allowed during sex.
"Role playing with your partner adds a unique twist to your sexual relationship," Danny Becker of The Enhanced Male tells Bustle. "Make it even more fun by 'meeting' your partner in a [...] place such as a hotel bar."
Very hot, no?
2. Use Lube For Hand Play
Think of Astroglide lube as a secret weapon, or a gift that keeps on giving. August McLaughlin, author of Girl Boner tells Bustle that one major perk of sex toys is the ability to explore your body’s capacity for pleasure, using shapes, materials and sensations, but there are so many other ways to do this!
"To get similar benefits sans toy, apply some quality lubricant to your or a partner’s fingers then start exploring," McLaughlin says. Think about speed, pressure, and all the different ways your fingers can "dance" and move.
3. Plan A Sexy Activity
It really doesn't have to be too wild, but carving out some time to do something a little different than your normal sexual routine is a great way to amp up the excitement.
Plan a sexy photo shoot alone or with a partner, for example, or journal about your hottest fantasies that you hope to one day act on, says McLaughlin. Maybe take a hike and start your foreplay on the mountaintop!
4. Try Doing It In A Totally New Place
While sure, you can go for it in an exotic location, you can also just shake it up at home and take it out of your bed.
Changing things up, even modestly, in your sex life is another great way to invite novelty, pleasure, and adventure, McLaughlin says.
If you normally have sex in the bedroom, for example, consider the living room. In fact, you might be surprised how many places you can do it that have never crossed your mind before.
"You don’t have to go to extremes to invite added fun and pleasure to your sex life," McLaughlin says.
5. Try Experimenting With Fantasy and Erotica
Fantasy and storytelling are a very powerful thing, my friends. And tapping into the wide world of erotica is something you can really enjoy on your own.
"We often think it takes physical touch in erotic zones to get stimulated, but in reality the most powerful sex organ we have is the brain," counselor Melissa Coats, who specializes in sex therapy, tells Bustle. "Allowing your mind to be stimulated can cause the body to respond in some delightful ways."
6. Practice "Sexy" Mindfulness
Mindfulness doesn't scream of sexy. But Coats says that sex is definitely a mindful activity, meaning that when we can be fully present with ourselves and our partner(s), we are more likely to experience desire and pleasure.
"Thinking about everything on the to-do list at work or what time you have the meeting in the morning are usually not sexy thoughts," she says.
So whether you are alone or with a partner, try to focus your mind solely on touch and the sensations you feel. Mix it up and see what is really pleasurable. And don't forget to breathe!
7. Try Temperature Play
"You might be surprised what a little change in temperature can do," sex expert and Playboy Radio host, Miyoko, of Ask Miyoko, tells Bustle.
"You can use iced and warm water bowls by your bed to change the temperature of your fingers and hands," says Miyoko. "Take the time to observe how your body enjoys the delicate tip-toeing of your icy cold fingertips across your warm skin."
Or, she says, use a wash cloth and submerge it in warm water and apply it like a warm compress to increase blood flow to your genitals before your engage in solo or partner play.
8. Set A Foreplay Timer
While timers might not seem that sexy, think again! Fima says that a trend that is popular now is for couples to set random timers (usually 10-20 minutes) for foreplay, then go at it in whatever position they happen to be in as soon as the timer goes off.
"You might call it the 'musical chairs' of sex positions," Fima says. "The anticipation it builds is exceptionally tantalising."
Whatever you're ready for sex-wise, know that taking it at your own pace is really where it's at. But hey, once you start trying out new things you may really surprise yourself with what you find you like! Happy exploring, my friends!