The short (and less satisfying) answer to the sex toy addiction question is that there are few studies on sexual health and sex toy use so, technically, we don’t know for sure. But what some people perceive as an addiction may simply be our cultural and societal stigmas at work.
A sex toy is a tool to enhance sexual pleasure and provide additional stimulation. They’re meant to be fun, exciting, and satisfying. But if you’re worried you might become addicted or that you are addicted, it’s time to look at what that might mean.
Habit and Addiction Aren’t the Same
An addiction is often characterized by a dependence on something. You can’t function without it or get through your day until you take it or use it. When you feel like you absolutely need something in order to function, it’s possible you might be addicted. Caffeine addiction is a classic example. How many people feel absolutely miserable until their first cup of coffee?
Habits are things you do because you’ve trained yourself to do them or you’ve simply become accustomed to them. So think about your sex toy — whether it’s a favorite vibrator or your biggest butt plug. Is your life negatively impacted when you can’t use it or are you able to set it aside and function without it? If you can walk away from it without feeling like you need it, it might just be a habit.
Dealing with the Stigma of Sexual Pleasure
If you’re enjoying yourself, getting off in the way that you love and having fun, why does your sex toy use matter so much? This is the question to ask yourself. Are your concerns about sex toy addiction based on what you’ve been told is right or wrong about sexual pleasure? Does it feel strange to enjoy masturbating or using a sex toy? Do you worry you’re doing something “wrong?”
Even as sex toys have become more popular and more people will admit they have one, there’s still a stigma for some people about using them. Partners sometimes worry they’ll be “replaced” or they’re not good enough which is why you “need” your toy. The truth is that vibrators and other sex toys provide stimulation no one else can. They provide easy pleasure and (for some) easy orgasms. That doesn’t mean you’re addicted or that you’ve replaced your partner.
The Case for Sex Toy Moderation
Even if sex toy addiction isn’t real, feeling like you’re overly reliant on your sex toy might be a valid point. Are you less interested in touching yourself and more interested in the 30 second orgasm? Would you prefer to get off fast and go to sleep rather than spend time with yourself, exploring?
There is nothing wrong with the quick or easy orgasm you get with a sex toy. But if it’s something that concerns you, it might be time for a bit of sex toy moderation. Try putting your sex toy away and going back to the basics — using your hands and fingers to find spots that feel good. It may take a while because you’ve grown accustomed to your toy, but it might not. If you’re feeling like you “can’t” get off without your toy (and you don’t like that), a brief hiatus or using your toy less may be what you need.
Sex Toy Interference
Is it possible to do something too much, liking getting off with your vibrator? Maybe, if it’s interfering with your life. If you find yourself masturbating instead of going to work or school or ignoring your partner in favor of your sex toy, there could be a problem. But your sex toy isn’t the culprit, it’s just the mechanism. You know you can depend on your vibrator or dildo to be there, and so it is.
If you feel like your sex toy use is interfering in your life, you may need to speak to a qualified therapist or other medical professional. But you might just need to have a hard conversation with yourself. What or who is it you’re avoiding? Sometimes life gets stressful and we want to feel good. And sometimes we don’t want to be with our partner anymore and are afraid to say something.
Ultimately, if you enjoy getting off with your sex toy and prefer it to any other method, that’s okay. The only time your sex toy use should be considered a “problem” is when you think it is. But if you are concerned, make sure it’s not just the people around you shaming you for experiencing sexual pleasure. If you suspect your sex toy use is interfering negatively in your life, talk to a sex-positive professional who can help you sort out what’s going on.