Working in the adult toy industry wasn’t as wild as you’d probably imagine. It was pretty much like any other retail job—I spoke to customers and helped them find the best products for their needs—but along the way, I learned quite a lot about sex.
Movies and TV get sex all wrong.
This is probably the most obvious lesson of all. TV shows and movies show an almost hilariously idealized version of sex. The characters kiss passionately, hurriedly ripping clothes off each other in their haste to undress and knocking things off of shelves and tables. Then, with maybe two seconds devoted to kissing stomachs and chests, the two characters get into a horizontal position and proceed with penetrative sex, finishing with perfectly synchronized orgasms. As you probably already know, 99% of the time, real-life sex is not going to look anything like the movies. Seriously, where’s the foreplay?
Porn gets it wrong too.
Porn is a fantasy, and most porn is made specifically with men in mind. There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching porn, but a lot of it is unrealistic. I didn’t know how much of a problem this could be until I started working in a sex shop. I lost count of the number of times a guy came looking for a toy for his wife or girlfriend and relayed the most outlandish and ludicrous fantasies that he wanted to bring to life—all with zero concern for his actual partner’s pleasure. It’s not that these dudes were intentionally trying to disregard their partners, but they seemed to think that the bare minimum they were doing was enough to have their partners engaged in wild double penetration fantasies. Wrong!
Bodies are incredibly complicated.
Even with all my time spent working in a sex shop, I can’t confidently say I know everything there is to know about sex and the body’s response to it. I first found out about what a clitoridectomy is through a customer, and a lot of what I’ve learned about endometriosis is from customers too. I’m definitely not an expert, but I do know more than many of my former customers. I had women come in who had no idea that the G-spot is real, and plenty of men insisted that the best way to bring a woman to orgasm is through vaginal penetration. It’s really important to be open to learning more about your body and your partner’s body in order to have fulfilling sex.
Erogenous zones are everywhere.
Erogenous zones—or parts of the body that respond well to sexual stimulation—can be quite complex too. Different people enjoy stimulation in wildly different parts of the body, and many a customer has confided in me about the places they like to be touched most (aside from the obvious). It’s made me realize how much of the body can and maybe even should be involved during sex and foreplay.
There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about sex but many people do.
Don’t get me wrong, we did have confident customers who strolled right in and told us exactly what they wanted, and we loved them! But most of the people who came in were very shy and awkward about it. They’d start by browsing some books or maybe looking at the condoms before very, very slowly making their way to the section they really wanted to look at. A lot of the time, when customers were trying to tell me what they’re looking for, they whispered very quietly and looked around nervously. The truth is that everyone is into something and that sex is normal and healthy! There’s no need to feel embarrassed!
Unfulfilling sex can kill a relationship.
There’s a vibrator I stopped recommending altogether because I think it may have inadvertently caused the death of a few sex lives and even some divorces. If you know anything about sex toys at all, you probably know I’m talking about the Hitachi Magic Wand. I had husbands come in, purchase that toy for their wives, and then return dejectedly a few weeks later saying their wives have lost interest in having sex with them so they wanted a sex toy for themselves too. This just goes to show that if you’re not learning how to have engaging and fulfilling sex and just throwing toys at a partner as a substitute, it’s not going to go very well.
Age really is just a number.
We tend to make this weird assumption that older people don’t have sex or that they’re too unhealthy or unfit to do so. I cannot tell you just how wrong that is. When I was working in a sex shop, we had people of all ages coming in and buying products off our shelves. If anything, the older customers we had were more open, confident, and sure of what they wanted!
It’s OK to go slow.
Want to try a new toy? A new sex position? A new kind of sex? You don’t have to dive right into the deep end from the beginning. In fact, if anything, you should be doing the opposite of that. I know I have a tendency to assume that just because it’s sex, I have to be able to pick things up quickly and roll with the punches as I go. That’s not the case at all. Sex and pleasure are skills and need to be worked on with practice and patience. It’s going to take time, but the payoff is so worth it.
There’s no such thing as “weird.”
You might think you have the most outlandish kink out there. You might think that if you mention your fantasies to sex shop staff when asking how to bring them to life, they’ll recoil in terror. It won’t happen. While I can’t say for sure that I’ve heard it all, I’ve definitely heard most of it. I don’t think anything can surprise me anymore, and I would never judge someone for their kinks. I know I speak for most who’ve worked in the adult toy industry when I say we’re here because we want to help you achieve those fantasies and indulge your kinks safely, sanely, and consensually.
Knowing your body is the secret to great sex.
I can’t tell you how many customers informed me that they felt so much more comfortable with their bodies after being encouraged to try new things and learn more about themselves intimately. For many, it’s taught them how to have better sex, and hearing that made me proud of my unconventional job. Sexuality is fun and exploring yours is healthy. Trust me, being in touch with your body will allow you to have some of the best sex of your life. When you’re in tune with what you want and need, everything falls into place.
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