Sometimes, it's better to show than to tell. The best way to do that, at least in the bedroom, is with a vibrating cock ring.
I was given my first vibrating cock ring (or, VBC for short) when I was 17. My brother was graduating from college, and I was helping him move out of his apartment. While packing, he found it in his drawer.
"I forgot I had this," he said. "Have you ever used one of these?"
I shook my head side to side.
"This one's new. Here. Give it a shot. Oh, and this one vibrates."
He tossed it over to me. I vividly remember, well, first dropping it, but then scrutinising it. Why would I ever need this? Why does he even have this?
That fall, I headed off to college and brought it with me, thinking there's no reason to leave it at home. There, I kept it in my drawer for months without using it. The end of freshman year, I started dating a woman, a senior in college, who I like to call the "courageous adventurer." She knew what she liked and had no qualms asking for it. I, given my age and lack of sexual experience at the time, did not.
I couldn't ever lose myself fully when I was having sex with her. I was too afraid I'd mess it up somehow. Despite her clear enjoyment and pleasure, I still felt I wasn't enough for her. I imagined the other guys she slept with while she was intimate with me. My insecurities ran too deep, and I couldn't shake them no matter how hard I tried.
In a futile attempt to alleviate my own worries, I once asked her how many guys she'd slept with. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Don't ask questions you don't want to know the answer to." She was right. Hearing if she'd slept with dozens of men before me wouldn't calm my nerves. In fact, it would do the opposite. I don't know what I was expecting to hear. Maybe, Only you baby, I lied about those other men.
Dream on, Zach.
So in an attempt to "reinvigorate" our sex life (even though it was perfectly fine for her as it was), I whipped out the cock ring. I decided to use it because I already felt nervous and emasculated by my own anxiety. What else did I have to lose? I was desperate and had nowhere else to turn. I'd spoken to her about my insecurities prior, and even though she said everything right ("Zach, it's great, you don't need to worry. I like you and love the sex," etc.), I was still a mess. I still didn't believe her.
So I slipped it on the base of my penis and pressed the "on" button. Immediately, electrical currents pulsated through my entire body and my erection got harder. Then, we went at it. She was louder than she ever'd ever been, her eyes bulging, and me, too lost in my own physical sensations to even worry about whether or not she was enjoying it. Although, if I had taken a second to step outside myself, it would have been clear that she was. Getting out of my head was exactly what I needed.
From vibrating cock rings, the transition to other sex toys was inevitable. With future partners, I'd later go on to explore nipple clamps, dildos, and even being pegged. Now, if I orgasm before a female partner, instead of declaring sex over just became I came, I use the magic wand and dildo combination.
And not too surprisingly, women love it.
But the cock ring was my gateway toy. We both loved it. We both benefited from it, because let's get real: No matter how hard I try, I can't make my penis vibrate on its own. Yet college relationships don't always last forever. When we broke up once she graduated, she stole our favourite toy, and sent me this text: "Sorry, but this is mine now," which she ended with a smiley face. In all honesty, I can't say I blame her.
Through that experience, I learned that toys have nothing to do with my sexual (in)adequacy. How could I have ever questioned something that brings my partner and me so much extra enjoyment? There are some things I physically can't do, and that's OK. This doesn't make me less of a man or lover. In fact, I've become a much better lover since I've started incorporating sex toys into my life, and the women I sleep with don't view my use of toys as, "Oh, Zach's using toys because he's not good at sex." It's "Holy shit, Zach is great at sex because he's smart enough and comfortable enough to use toys." I'm able to acknowledge that it's OK not to be the sex god I thought I needed to be. Or, at least, not without toys…
Just like women, men put tons of pressure on themselves to be good at sex. We think we need to do it all by ourselves or we're not "real men." This is absolutely ridiculous, but it's so ingrained. That's why you're not only going to have to forgive us for our insecurities but also help us change our outlook. The best way to do that? You now know: A vibrating cock ring.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan