Going into a sex shop for the first time can be intimidating no matter how old you are or what you’re looking for. Thoughts can vary from feeling uneducated or naive for not knowing your way around the store to a fear of being judged for going in at all. Although there are a lot of online alternatives for those who aren’t willing to go in person (think Jack and Jill), there are many benefits to going into an actual store.
But if you’re feeling anxious about choosing brick-and-mortar, here are some simple solutions for any pre-visit anxiety.
1. Bring a friend with you
It might sound weird, but bringing a friend you can trust with you on your first visit can not only make you feel better about being there, but it can remind you that the experience can also be fun.
Keep in mind that any sex shop is an actual business, and you don’t want to make fun of things that other people might like, but if you need to laugh your way through some of your unease with your friends, that’s acceptable too. It might also benefit you to find a friend who has some experience in shopping in adult stores, so if you find you have a question you are not comfortable asking an employee, you can defer to them.
2. Have an idea of what you’re looking for before you go in
Most sex shops have a lot to choose from, from the basic selections of safer sex supplies and vibrators to more advanced toys, costumes and literature. Even if you don’t intend to purchase anything and just want to check the store out, having an idea of what you want to see can save you some confusion and prevent you from feeling too overwhelmed.
If it’s your first time buying anything from an adult store, starting simpler is usually safer. Find something that you’re already familiar with or have already researched and work your way up so if you do need advice, you can work from a basis of knowledge.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
The employees are there to help you. There is no question that will embarrass them or make them think less of you, because even if it is your first time there, it’s not theirs. The employees are used to answering questions, and keep in mind that if you don’t ask questions, you risk ending up with a product that isn't what you’re looking for or even something you’re not sure how to use.
If you find you just can’t work up the nerve to ask your questions directly, some shops have FAQ pamphlets that can help ease you into the process.
Regardless of your comfort level, just know that most sex stores work to create a nonjudgmental and welcoming environment for all of their customers and that no one will look at you differently for being there or for asking for help.
Originally published on HelloFlo.