Just this Christmas I presented my partner with The New Topping Book, some rope, and a paddle. The reaction was very positive. Would I give the same to my parents? An ex-partner I still talk to? A friend with whom I had never discussed sex? Definitely not. The nature of the relationship between two people is incredibly important, as well as their personal boundaries and who else is in the room. My partner and I were alone, we’re both comfortable with our kink, we discuss sex openly and have been sexually active together for seven months.
Although I may feel comfortable with my sexuality and discuss it with others, sometimes people don’t share back, and that’s okay. Everyone is allowed to have their own personal boundaries. I wouldn’t be offended if someone I had talked to about sex gave me a pair of handcuffs, but I would be creeped out and wonder what someone’s intentions were if we had never talked about it before.
Who is surrounding you is also crucial. If I am in the company of very close friends with whom I frequently discuss my sex life, I am comfortable opening a box containing a flogger, but if my oldest and most conservative sister is around, I will be really angry at the gifter for not using more discretion even if I liked the gift and thought it was appropriate from the individual. Even if the giver and receiver don’t feel a boundary has been crossed, an onlooker may be upset.
When buying a gift for someone, take care that you choose something they will actually feel comfortable receiving. If you know your friend loves fishnet tights, go for it! But if you don’t know anything about her masturbation habits and buy her a rabbit vibrator, the situation could be worse than that she doesn’t like toys that vibrate. She could have had a traumatizing situation in her past that leads her to be terrified of penetration. Exercise caution and respect people’s boundaries, and never guess what someone would actually appreciate in a gift when gifting intimate, personal items like sex toys.