Lucky but Unlucky
Dear Patrick: My fiancée had a bridal shower. We both have really good jobs and some of our friends do not, so she asked all her girlfriends to just bring her “gag gifts.” Well, one of those presents was a vibrator, the one that the condom company makes? I gather that everybody was really amused. Her friend took her aside later, gave her a pack of batteries, and whispered that it wasn't a joke, she really should try it. So later that night she came to bed with it, and while we were fucking, she was playing with it on her clitoris. We both got off really good. I don't know if we have ever had sex like that! I wanted to send her friend a thank you note but we agreed that might seem kind of creepy.
We are getting married in a week, and I'm sure I have made the right choice. I don't want advice about whether I should marry her or not. But I do have a concern. She has been bringing the vibrator to bed every single night. Ever since she got it, we haven't spent any time together without mechanical assistance. She is leaving it in her bedside table and for all I know she is enjoying it when I'm not around. I can't complain about the sex, it is very hot, but I am starting to wonder what she needs me for. I can't compete with something that vibrates 1,000 times a second. I don't want to bring this up; it would be like bitching because you are too lucky. But I kind of wish we were still exploring sex at our own pace. I really enjoyed getting to know her body and its sensitivities. Now it's just the same thing night after night.
A lot of couples ignore the full range of techniques they could use to tease and please one another. Thanks to the bridal shower gift, you and your wife-to-be have an excellent opportunity to sort out your agreements about two things: masturbation and sex toys. I want to suggest some ground rules for this conversation. Pick a time when you can really talk. Don't bring it up five minutes before you have to leave to catch the bus to work. If both of you could speak in first person, about your own concerns or feelings (“I get insecure and I wonder if I satisfy you”), instead of generalizing about people in general (“Normal women don't need a vibrator”), you will be able to focus on your own lovemaking rather than try to come up with a set of rules for the whole world. Don't label each other or call each other names, and don't take information personally. This creates a space where it is safe to tell the truth, And that's the only way to make sure your sex life continues to be hot.
Sex research tells us that the majority of men masturbate to orgasm, whether they are in a relationship or not. Women who know they can masturbate do, too. (Sadly, there are still way too many women who don't know about the clitoris and its magic potential.) Why would somebody masturbate when they can have sex with a partner? Well, there are a lot of reasons, and most of them have nothing to do with criticism of the partner's performance. We masturbate if we are bored, we need to go to sleep, for pain relief, to get back in touch with ourselves, to enjoy a fantasy, to take the edge off until our partner gets home, or to feel something just a little different than intercourse. Couples who masturbate usually have better sex lives than couples who do not. They tend to be more verbal and responsive, more honest about their needs, and better at gratifying each other. Unfortunately, we still have some attitudes left over from Victorian times, when people honestly believed that masturbation was a sin and would cause insanity, tuberculosis, and many other health problems.
Now that we know masturbation causes nothing but ecstasy, I think we can make some new rules about its role in the life of a couple. How about just accepting the fact that sometimes, both of you will want to masturbate? Once in a while, I encounter a couple who complain that one or both of them are using masturbation to avoid each other. That would be a legitimate problem to identify and fix. Couples who feel love and desire for each other can actually use masturbation to make their sex lives better. I often suggest, when couples are having trouble “reading” each other, that masturbating together can help you to understand what your spouse's body needs and enjoys.
I'm sure by now that you have noticed that there are many amazing and wonderful differences between your body and her body. Sex is easier for men to figure out because their genitals protrude, and they are not punished for being sexual beings. Nobody calls a horny man a slut or warns him that he is going to get raped, and it will all be his own fault. The clitoris is smaller, a bit hidden, and ignored. Little girls will be told, “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.” But the two organs are not really equivalents. It would be like somebody telling you, “Girls have a clitoris and boys have a nut sack.” Some women are able to have intense orgasms from vaginal penetration alone. But many need a little extra help in the form of clitoral stimulation. A few women can't come at all if they are getting vaginal stimulation, but we already know that is not your girlfriend's situation.
You want to be a good husband and a great lover, so of course you want her to have whatever her body needs to join you in ecstatic union. Some women can get enough clitoral stimulation just from the pressure of a partner's pelvic bone. Sometimes you can provide this by aiming a little higher during intercourse. I've heard this described as polishing the rim of the bowl instead of trying to knock the bottom out of it.
But a lot of female persons have much nicer orgasms if somebody's finger or a toy are keeping the clitoris in the loop. Some guys really enjoy giving their girlfriends a little extra handiwork as they fuck. But it can be very distracting and even kind of painful to get your hand in there and still keep up a steady thrusting rhythm. So what is wrong with her helping out? I swear to you on a stack of sex manuals that this is the nicest thing you can do for a female lover, even if NONE of your friends have ever mentioned it.
Instead of feeling left out or insecure, why not feel like you cracked the code? You are amazing! Every guy wonders how to solve the big mystery of female sexuality. No matter how much porn you watch and no matter how many girls you take to bed, the other sex remains an enigma. Well, here's a big part of that initiation into adult sexuality that you have been looking for. This is the reality of sex rather than the myth of a session of stag-party boasting. A few small changes could help you to feel like her stud instead of just another accessory.
Let me suggest that she needs to be more verbal. If she likes the way it feels to get fucked or fondled, she needs to speak up. Telling you specifically how she feels and how much she needs it will make this “problem” into a solution. A lot of women feel very shy about expressing their sexual responses. They worry that their faces will look weird or they will be too loud or out of control. But this just leaves their men hanging in the wind, wondering if they should keep going or change something. Be patient with her, it takes time to loosen up. She will probably experiment with small changes at first, and if you really like it, she will open up even more.
The second change that I am guessing might help is to make sure the two of you have options. The vibrator does not have to be her only choice for an orgasm. You need to learn how to do her with your hand and your mouth, and she needs to develop a skill set to pleasure you. We are all told that intercourse is The Real Deal, but it's just one way for two bodies to come together. Oral and manual sex are both honorable forms of coupling, with long histories of providing full satisfaction.
It also occurs to me that this vibrator might have given your sweetie her first real orgasm ever. If little girls are told “don't touch yourself, that's nasty,” they never learn how to masturbate. Sadly, this also means they usually can't come with a partner. Masturbation is the primary school of sex. It's how we train our neural pathways to tolerate building levels of arousal, until we achieve release of all that tension and pleasure. Your girlfriend might be obsessed with her toy because she is afraid she won't be able to get off without it. Don't be mad at her if this is true. Imagine how sad YOUR life would be if you never jerked off. Imagine wanting to be close to your partner, wanting to please them, but not being able to make it over the edge. She doesn't intend to criticize you. This is a culture-wide problem, and part of the reason why I write this column to address it.
So join the sexual revolution and keep bringing the fancy toy to bed. But build up the repertoire even more. If my ideas don't work, please write and tell me what went wrong. We can strategize some more.