Can Sex Toys Save Your Relationship?

Some Americans believe that this $150 Coco de Mer Ceramic Bird and Rose Butt Plug will dramatically change their lives.

I went to a lecture by Professor John DeLamater yesterday where I learned that most married couples stop having sex after 60 years of marriage, and sexual activity begins steadily declining after 34 years of marriage. One of the main reasons for the decline is a lack of novelty. It’s called habituation to your partner, and the longer you live with them, the more habituated to their presence (as a sexual partner) you get, and the less attracted to them you become. Some people in the lecture found this data depressing, but since I never want to get married, and I probably won’t ever cohabitate again, I’m not too concerned about this happening to me. And since I’m a gerontophile, I see this as a positive trend because it increases my prospects for a date with an older gentleman. But it left me wondering if you can retain your sexual attraction to someone if you live with them. Is it inevitable that you’ll get bored?

One way that’s recommended for overcoming habituation is increasing novelty through role play and sex toys, according to DeLamater. (The other ways involved unique sexual positions and settings for intercourse, as well as erotic media).  The sex toy industry is partly built on this belief, a hope that purchasing a Double Diver Dildo will revitalize a stale relationship, and will make you look forward to sex with a partner whose genitalia you’ve been fondling for decades.

Of course a sex toy can’t save a broken relationship, but Americans continue to have a hopefulness that purchasing things will change their life. It’s a religious faith in material things, and I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. We have to believe in something. I’ve always been inspired by supermarkets, viewing them as sparkling temples of consumption. I’m enraptured by Pop-Tarts in their unfathomable variety of flavors, including such glorious creations as Rainbow Cookie Sandwich, Wild Grape, and Confetti Cake. I look upon Boo Berry cereal with reverence, as if I’m in the presence of a holy relic.  And when I saw my first vibrator in Copps supermarket I almost cried, as the device that I had worshipped for the past twenty years had become available in the same store where consumers purchased their Entenmann’s Thick Fudge Iced Golden Cake. It’s appropriate for sex toys and food to be sold in the same store because they’re intimately related, both correlating to primal human drives.

But the supermarket represents the quotidian, and as excited as I was to see cock rings on the shelves, I also felt as if the uniqueness and beauty of sex toys had been undermined, as they’d been reduced to just another supposedly “life-bettering” commodity that promised what it could not deliver. Just as women purchase Special-K cereal in the hope that buying this 16.7 ounce box of rice and wheat flakes will grant them the supernatural willpower to avoid what they really want to eat, they also purchase Trojan Vibrating Rings in the belief that their boring married sex lives can be magically renewed with this $10  piece of plastic.  I don’t think that it’s futile to introduce sex toys into a stale relationship, but people shouldn’t ask too much of their Wireless Rings of Passion. The more pressure that we put on sex, the less fun it becomes. A butt plug shouldn’t be used as a relationship life-preserver. It’s more important to have an attitude of playfulness that a sex toy implies. In fact, in Delamater’s studies married women’s (ages 45-85) personal attitudes about sex were more strongly correlated with greater amounts of sexual activity than anything else.

I think that there’s a key reason why vibrators and dildos are referred to as toys. The best sex is playful and improvisational; it’s about setting up an environment where you can be as ridiculous and unembarrassed as possible because genitals are weird and sex is messy and if you can’t have a sense of humor while you’re doing it, then something’s wrong. Not that you should be laughing during the whole sexual act. I’ve done that, and I don’t recommend it.

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5 thoughts on “Can Sex Toys Save Your Relationship?

  1. […] Can Sex Toys Save Your Relationship? In Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 at 4:21 AM Can Sex Toys Save Your Relationship? « dildographer. […]

  2. Diana Harty says:

    I agree completely. One of the things my husband and I do is just window shop on AdamandEve.com and when we do occasionally order things, half the fun is opening up the box to see what random other stuff they threw in there for us. I like that you pointed out that the more important thing is to keep an attitude of playfulness and fun – that sense of fun is what keeps things fresh and exciting! I can’t think of anything that’s fun that is simultaneously stale.

  3. dildographer says:

    Diana: Window shopping for sex toys is what made me want to be a dildographer in the first place. I love the packaging and the creativity that goes into designing these devices that are supposed to be ideal genitals, an improvement on the real thing.

    It’s inspiring to hear from a married person who is still having great sex.

  4. Diana Harty says:

    I’m glad I inspired you! I’m glad we’re still having great sex too. Just passed the four year mark and even after two kids, we still go at it a few times per week 🙂 Things are actually much the same as they were when we were first married, interestingly… but when things need a little spicing up, it’s sometimes enough to just go shopping 😛 I thought I’d also point out that the vibe you “wore your clitoris out on” as you put it, is one of my favorites as well! We got ours free with another purchase, and it turned out to be *way* better than what we actually bought! Go figure, huh?

  5. […] couples shopping for dildos together, a sign that the season was upon us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, sex toys can’t save your relationship, but they can improve a sex life that’s getting stale, […]

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