The thing about dating, or about breaking up and starting anew, or about going out and hooking up, is that partners come and go. Some bedrooms are more like revolving doors than others but gone are the days when most people only had one sexual partner ever (if those days ever existed anyway, except back when young women were dragged off to marry 40-year-olds and then maybe died during childbirth).
When you start over with a new partner, then, what to do with your sex things? For example, what is the etiquette for a modern era that involves vibrators, condoms and lube? Here are some thoughts to get you through these times:
Is it okay to use your ex’s favorite condoms â€“ even from the same box â€“ with a new partner?
Yes, absolutely. Condoms are single-use, disposable items. Unless the condoms were custom-fitted to your ex’s penis size, you can use condoms from your condom stash with your new partner, even if those condoms are from the very same condom box that you and your ex purchased together.
Let’s say you have a vibrator. And you and your ex used it together once or twice or ten times. Is it okay to use that vibrator with your new partner?
Of course! Well, sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Here’s the deal. If the toy was made of a very easy-to-clean material such as medical grade silicone, Pyrex-like glass or hard plastic, then you can probably use it with your new partner assuming that you cleaned it well in between uses. However, if the toy was ever inserted inside your ex’s body, you might think twice. Sure, any germs may be gone with a good cleaning. But would you want a sex toy on your body if you knew it had been inside the vagina or anus of your partner’s ex? Probably not, unless that’s your thing. Also, if the shared toy is made of a porous material, such as a soft Jelly or realistic “skin like” material â€“ of if you’re generally not good at cleaning your toys â€“ then please don’t use it with the new person. We don’t have good data on germs and sex toy materials but all signs point to those softer toys being more porous and potentially harboring more icky stuff. For the sake of good sex, consider getting a new toy. They’re not that pricey.
My ex and I only made it 1/3 of the way through our bottle of lube. Okay or tacky to use the rest of the bottle with the new person?
In most cases, this is totally fine. Some people get their feathers ruffled by any reminders that you have ever had sex with other people, and a 1/3-used-up bottle of lube can do that for some. But you know what? You’re a sexual being â€“ we all are â€“ and your partner may need to get over that. If they’re hung up on it, suggest they buy you a new bottle of lube. It’s that easy.
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH is a research scientist at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, a widely read sex columnist and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction.