How sex toys empowered me after trauma & shame

In December of 2009, I bought my first sex toy, and it was incredible. Here was an entire industry dedicated to the act of bringing my body pleasure. Not for anyone else, but for my own enjoyment. And it wasn't presented as secretive and embarrassing and shameful: it was bright purple. And for the first time, my body felt like mine and my sexuality belonged to me. Since then, sex toys have been an active interest of mine, and I've learned a lot about them — and about how important they are.

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Figuring out why I'm so uncomfortable with my partner's self pleasure

My partner masturbates without my knowing and for some reason it really bothers me. My reaction surprised me and I had to dig into it to understand why. We have had a lot of conversations about how I struggle with the fact that he masturbates. Thankfully he is typically able to be open-minded and not take it personally. He knows that it's my issue, and he knows that I know it's my issue and that I'm not trying to control him. Here's how I'm parsing my feelings…

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The sacred jack-off: taking masturbation to a whole new weird level

I was talking to a married friend recently, and she was all, "Look, it's cool that so many people are exploring forms of polyamory, but that's not me and that's not my marriage. I want to find new ways to expand my sexual experiences that AREN'T other people."

And I was all, "Fuck yes — have you tried doing, like, a sacred jack-off?"

And she was all, "Did you make this up?"

And I was all, "Pssht. No."

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Finding your new BFF: Picking the perfect toy

So, you've decided to improve the quality of your self-lovin' (and couple-lovin'). Good for you! You wander cautiously into your local sex shop or website only to be totally overwhelmed by the selection. Before you "panic-order," remember this: not all sex toys are created equal! Here are some tips to help you find your next sexy-time gadget.

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Masturbation and my relationship: How I stopped worrying and learned to love myself… despite living with my partner

We've talked about masturbation on Offbeat Home and Offbeat Bride before. We're familiar with solo sex here. But what if you no longer live solo? "Easy," I thought when thinking about how my sex life would change when my boyfriend and I finally moved in together. "Sex whenever/however/wherever we want. This is, as far as I can tell, the only reason anyone moves in together at all ever." And more or less, this has proven true.

Except sometimes… I want, and he doesn't.

And other times… I want very specifically to do my thing alone.