There comes a time in every man’s relationship when the new becomes the standard.
Then the standard becomes the boring.
Sexual boredom is bad for everybody.
Which is why we sought out Michael Topolovac — founder of Crave, the San Francisco-based producer of top-quality vibrators for women — to give us some guidelines on how men can broach the topic.
What to say. When to say it. And most helpfully, what to buy. (Editor's note: Crave’s head of design is a lady, and don’t think that doesn’t make a difference.)
InsideHook: How, in the world, do you suggest to your lady that it’s time to bring sex toys into the bedroom? Or is this easy for most guys?
Michael Topolovac: I think there is a bit of a selection bias in that the customers of ours who are buying products don’t seem to have that concern, and we actually find that about 50% of our customers are men — whom we believe are buying for women.
When we see this issue in the broader world, though, it tends to fall in two camps. Until recently, most of the toys available were pretty frightening — so the issue wasn’t so much buying a sex toy per se, but not feeling good about buying a product that was really more a novelty than a modern product. Fortunately, there are a number of quality brands now, so men have some really good options.
We do see an occasional second issue: “scared,” in that they think [the device] might be competitive to them, or just a general uneasiness with the category. Most men are realizing that a toy can be a win for everyone.
IH: Can you talk generally, from a design perspective, about what makes a piece particularly female-friendly?
MT: Like any good design, I think the best toys are those designed with the experience of the end user always top of mind, [with] each design decision being highly considered. I think in the past most of the products in the category were a bit androcentric, in large part because the designers were often men and the design language took on a more male form, often literally. (Editor’s note: LOL.)
IH: What's a good way for a guy to bring up the subject to his partner?
MT: Generally we find — and do very much believe — that conversation is good, and that open and honest conversation is exceptionally good. So it often isn’t that complicated: Just ask. If it comes from a place of a desire to please and support a partner, it is likely to lead to a positive outcome. We see a lot of gifting as a first introduction. Sometimes a visit together to a local female-centric store can be a lot of fun and create space for more conversation and exploration.
IH: At what point in the relationship — if the woman hasn't brought it up herself — is it "OK" to bring this up?
MT: I don’t think there’s a too soon, or a too late. It’s when it feels like a conversation that you are excited about having. Just bring it up from a place of respect and an awareness that there isn’t a right answer.
IH: What's the best way for a guy to know best how to use vibrators with a partner, and how can he do so while avoiding seeming uncomfortable or inexperienced — especially if he's with a partner who's more knowledgeable than he is?
MT: There really isn’t a right way in terms of a “how to,” so to speak. We do a lot of research, and we’re constantly amazed by — and in awe of — the diversity and complexity of what people like, and what they don’t like. I think the same spirit applies here: just ask. Your partner is going to know what she likes and doesn’t like. Let her show you, let her guide you. It isn’t about being experienced or inexperienced; it’s about exploring pleasure together. It’s her body, so you can be pretty certain she is going to be far more knowledgeable about it then you are. And that’s all good.