When a Vibrator Makes a Man Feel Shame

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Why you should care

OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson addresses queries from the love-weary in ”Sex With Eugene.”

Will a Machine Beat a Man?

EUGENE, SIR: My wife recently got a clitoral vibrator. She told me she was considering one, and I said, “Hey, that’s great,” and I meant it. I have no complaints when it comes to our sex life, and if she wanted to do a little self-help in the orgasm department I was on board.

She got it, used it and when I asked about it she said, “It was incredible.” I told her that I’d love to watch her use it and she was more than willing. I did watch, and I have to say that I was blown away. It was quick, and it was intense. Crazy intense. And it was hot … like really, really hot watching her.

I am glad that she enjoys it and that it is doing to her what it is doing to her. I’ve never been a jealous guy. When we were younger and hadn’t been together long she went away for a ”girl’s weekend” with some friends and slept with a guy. She told me after, and I wasn’t jealous. But I am jealous of her vibrator.

I don’t think she is going to dump me for it or that she’ll want to have sex less because of it. If anything she seems like she might want sex more because of it. I told her that it makes me a little jealous, and she assured me that using it, while it’s great, isn’t the same as having sex and she still wants me.

Intellectually this makes sense. Emotionally? It seems like I’m going to come home and find it wearing my slippers and sitting in my favorite chair. I recognize that a clitoral vibrator designed by women for women is probably going to perform better than a person can hope to, but the fact that it’s so much better than me is hard to accept. 

I’ve named it Bob, which she doesn’t like — and to tell the truth that helps some. I can’t get past my jealousy. Short of burying Bob in the backyard, how do I deal with my jealousy? I guess what I am really asking is am I just an insecure dick or is this normal? — Not Bob

Dear Nattering Nabob: This is damned near existential. Like so much so that it reminds me of Robert Musil’s modernist genius of a novel The Man Without Qualities. At over 1,000 pages long, I won’t lie and tell you I’ve finished it, but you don’t even have to have started it to be able to figure out why I like it. The premise of being “quality-less” is a wonderful antidote to the MySpace-ian conceit that we, collectively, have LOTS of qualities. If managing to eat and defecate are qualities, then yes, many of us have many of them, but in general, I think large portions of problemscape have everything to do with us being way more impressed with us than we should be.

In a part of your letter that I had to cut out for space, you already cop to not being the world’s best lover, so on a certain level, you’ve copped to the fact that there are ways and spaces at which you could be bested by others. In this instance, maybe most nettlesome, by a toy. This has unseated and unsettled you since you’re feeling that on a certain level your collection of qualities as they were, unlikely to be generally duplicated by another man (hence the whole marriage thing), could be so surpassed singularly that it could create a crack through which all kinds of future unpleasantness could flow.

To which I’d say: “And?”

People stay. People go. And it rains on the just and the unjust alike. All you can hope for is that in the end when all is weighted and balanced, you like who you are and what you’ve done more than not.

So, yes, you’re being insecure. But this is normal. Because you don’t want to lose that which you love. However, any ham-handed way of “dealing” with it will risk making things worse for sure. 

And here’s the callback since at moments like this I am likeliest to ask myself, “What would Sartre do?” Stab himself in the palm if I remember correctly? That’s what he would do but not what he’d advise. I imagine he’d advise you to do nothing outside of what you’ve already done — tell her, write me — since all action is futile and feelings are ephemeral.

In practical terms though, make Bob part of your play and realize that as good as he is, he can’t tell a joke better than you. Unless, of course, your jokes suck, and then we’re back to square one. In any case try de-stressing, realize it’s not about specific qualities and hope for the best. Good luck!

Fleshlight 4 Fantasy

EUGENE, SIR: I assume you know what a Fleshlight is. Well, I found one in my husband’s gym bag. I have not said anything to him about it yet, but I want to get my facts straight first. I looked online, but I have kids around mostly during the day, and he’s home at night. I just want to know, is this something he might be using with a mistress? — Name withheld by request

Dear Juanita Henry: A Fleshlight, a masturbation aid shaped roughly like a flashlight, designed to look like different body parts, is filled with some sort of fleshy substrate and is most useful when the penis-wielding user places his penis in it and simulates coitus. Your husband could use this with a mistress but it seems to be a really inefficient use of the mistress’s time and presence. If the sex he’s having with you hasn’t diminished in frequency or quality, I’d be prone to not be worried about it at all. Unless … well … what’s it doing in his gym bag?!? And maybe more specifically what gym is he working out at?!? Good questions all. Try asking them of him.

And in Another Edition of “Am I a Homophobe … ?”

EUGENE, SIR: We swing, but lately I’m getting sort of sick of seeing my husband with other men. I know I shouldn’t be threatened by this, but it’s bothering me. He says I’m a latent homophobe. That seems wrong. Am I wrong? What do you see from the letters you get? — 2 Many Men

Dear 2 Much Tool: Swinging seems to work best when enjoyed like a tapas menu, or a sampling tray. The swinging couple dabbles a little here, experiments a little there. A directed focus on one type of activity that sounds like it excludes one partner, however, suggests trendlines going the wrong way. Does that make you a homophobe? Not yet, necessarily. But a balance needs to be addressed because it’s not swinging if you’re not involved. You don’t want to drive his interests underground but perhaps if you framed your dismay as a couple’s issue it might make more sense to him. Give it a try.

OZYWildcard

Square pegs. Round holes.