On Friends, Lovers, and Sex Toys

My friends all know that I review sex toys, and they’re all pretty stoked for me. Some will even ask me, as a routine part of every visit we have together, “So what are you reviewing right now?” and then I will take them up to my bedroom and pull out whatever treasure has been frequenting my orifices that week. Really, my friends are great.

There are so many awkwardnesses surrounding the sharing of sexuality with your friends in this culture, though.

Recently I went through my toy collection and made a list of toys I never use and don’t need or want to own anymore. They’re all sterilizable and none of them have been in my butt. I sent out a message to a few select friends containing the list and some links, and asked them to choose anything they wanted to have.

Admittedly, I was nervous about doing this. My friends are extremely sex-positive and toy-positive, but I worried they would freak out, call me gross, and admonish me for even bringing it up. Luckily, they didn’t – and next week I’ll be passing on some under-loved, high-quality toys to my sweet friends.

My boyfriend thinks this is all a bit weird. Maybe it’s a relic of male culture – you know, all those ideas about how overly-intimate friendships are icky and how sex is something you share with your hos, not your bros – but he gets visibly squicked out when I mention that I’m giving a toy of mine to a friend. He’s fine with using my toys himself, but that’s because we’re fluid-bonded and I guess a sexual relationship is considered a socially acceptable environment for sharing toys.

I remember when I was 17 and my ambiguous friend/lovergirl bought a rabbit vibrator. Having owned a vibrator and a dildo but never a dual-action toy, I was very curious about her new purchase. So one night, when she came over for a little party I was having at my house, she stowed the rabbit in her bag and passed it to me surreptitiously. “Go try it out!” she said.

I scampered away from the party guests and into the bathroom, where I tried out the toy, sans lube (ugh, youthful stupidity). It didn’t blow me away. It didn’t even really turn me on. (This is no surprise to me now, since I’ve tried a re-skinned version of that same rabbit and had the same mediocre results.) After I had satisfied my curiosity, I removed the toy, rinsed it off, and brought it back to my lady. She asked me what I thought and I probably kinda shrugged.

So what’s my point with all this? Honestly, I’m not really sure I have one. I guess I’m just intrigued by and curious about the social norms surrounding sex toys. Some of them are there for good reason – you don’t want to accidentally transmit or contract an STI via a borrowed and unsterilized toy, of course – but some of them just seem silly. So what if I want to give my friend a vibrating hand-me-down? If she’s okay with it, and I’m okay with it, and the toy is clean, what’s the big deal?

What are your experiences with giving or receiving used sex toys? Do you consider it off-limits, and if so, why?