I Found Her Sex Toy
I believed her sexual satisfaction started and ended with me.
I was 19.
It had taken me a long time to get a girlfriend. 19 years, in fact. But, at long last, I had managed to achieve the impossible. An actual human girl was now dating me. More than that, actually having sex with me.
And boy, was I determined to do it right. And I thought I wasn’t doing too bad a job. For someone in their first sexual relationship, at least.
But then, one day, I happened to be going through her bedroom trying to find something, and I discovered her vibrator.
And, all at once, it became clear to me that I had failed as a boyfriend and a lover. (What do you want from me? I was 19, and had no idea what I was doing.)
But why did I think this? Why, the Patriarchy.
Masturbation is nothing to be ashamed of
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little solo play, even when you have a healthy sex life.
There are a lot of negative stereotypes about masturbation. It’s seen as “dirty”. Only practiced by those depraved perverts with an unhealthy fascination with sex. An act relegated to the life of the desperate singleton. A sex substitute for those not capable of finding the real thing.
None of this is true.
Masturbation is as natural as sex itself. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little solo play, even when you have a healthy sex life. Not only will your partner not always be available when the urge for sexual gratification strikes, but the pleasure you get from masturbation is distinctly different from actual sex.
Now, 37-year-old me know all of this. 19-year-old me? Not so much.
Did I stop to consider the fact that I still masturbated, despite the fact I was having real sex? No, I did not. (But then, I did live in fear of people finding that out because, as I said above, I’d been conditioned to believe it was dirty and wrong.)
No, all that went through my mind was that if my girlfriend needed to masturbate, it meant I had failed. I wasn’t satisfying her. When I left her place, glowing with satisfaction at my so-called sexual prowess, she was left having to pull out a sex toy to finish the job I’d unknowing failed to do.
It was a sign that I had failed as a boyfriend and a lover.
God damn Patriarchy.
Sex isn't something to be "Achieved"
I grew up thinking that sex wasn’t something to be enjoyed or experienced, but to be achieved. To be won.
Here’s the sneaky thing about the Patriarchy: It harms men just as much as it harms women.
The prevailing attitudes about what it is “to be a man” are twisted and toxic. And it’s especially dangerous during adolescence.
But the thing is, these attitudes are just plain wrong.
In a 2018 study, it was found that people’s beliefs about what men believe about sex and relationships significantly differ from what men actually believe. For example, 80% of men interviewed had no problems interacting with people in same-sex relationships. However, only 56% of people believe men are okay with this.
And so, even when a teenage boy doesn’t believe in a particular toxic stereotype, he’s going to be under the impression that he should do. And so he’ll force himself to meet that stereotype for fear of not being seen as “a man”.
And so combine this problem with a lack of comprehensive sex education, and you end up with boys having a warped idea of sex.
I grew up thinking that sex wasn’t something to be enjoyed or experienced, but to be achieved. To be won. To have lost your virginity is to have finished some unspoken race into manhood. And even once everyone has done that, it becomes a competition as to who’s “the best”. It’s not enough to simply be having sex. You’ve got to be great at it, and you’ve got to having a lot of it.
This can either be with one specifically desirable girl or a large number of different girls. It doesn’t matter, as long as your sexual prowess raises your social standing over other, lesser men.
And you shouldn’t have to think about it. To “a man”, it just comes naturally.
No “man” would end up awkwardly fumbling or wondering if what they are doing is right. Their partners should be begging for them to continue. And, above all, you must be more than enough for her. Her pleasure must begin and end with you.
Because she wants anything more after you’re done, why does she need you?
I grew up believing real "men" just knew what to do without needing to learn
So, after making this discovery, did I sit down with my girlfriend and discuss my feelings and insecurities?
Nope, that’s not how 19-year-old me operated. You couldn’t talk about your sexual insecurities because “men” didn’t have them.
I was terrified of losing this relationship, as I didn’t think I would ever be lucky enough to find another one. My self-confidence was so low that I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I would never be lucky enough to make two people fall for me in one lifetime.
It would almost be cute if it weren’t so pathetic.
And, of course, that relationship didn’t last. What first relationship does? But it didn’t end because she had a vibrator. And it didn’t end because of my reaction to discovering it.
My reaction was merely a symptom of all the reasons it was not going to last. I wasn’t mature enough to discuss my insecurities because society had conditioned me to believe that these insecurities made me less of a man.
My problem was I had grown up with toxic ideas of how to be a "man"
Ultimately, the lesson I learned from this experience — although not for some time, unfortunately — was that my abilities as a lover are not the same thing as my abilities as a boyfriend.
Yes, those things are closely connected. I’ve never had a long-term relationship that didn’t include sex. But I have had long periods of time where my partner and I haven’t had sex. And you know what? We were just as in love without sex as we were with it.
But because I had wanted to be in a relationship for so long, and I had wanted to have sex for so long, the two became one and the same. No one would want to date me if I couldn’t give them great sex.
Because “men” know how to have sex, and their women don’t need anyone — or anything — else.
So what’s my takeaway from this experience?
It’s this: when you face a point in your relationship that threatens your core beliefs, take a moment to think about whether the problem is actually your assumptions or insecurities.
The problem here wasn’t that my girlfriend owned, and used a vibrator. It was that I was caught up in the toxic idea that I had to be more than enough for her. It was my job to provide her sexual satisfaction. And that I had failed.
Boys need to learn about the Patriarchy, and how it damages them just as much as it hurts women.