I got a cock ring for my birthday a few years ago. I had never considered using a toy for my own benefit before. Toys are an implicit taboo for straight men. It's become generally accepted that women require vibrators and dildos for their own self-pleasure, but a man with a sex toy is a greasy kink monster.

One of the benefits of being in a relationship is that you are given leeway to experiment with new ways to arouse yourself and your partner. Sex toys lose their fetishistic edge and become more functional and exploratory. They aren't lurid artifacts but new intermediaries with which to break new ground. Being single is a different matter. How can you reasonably try and break new ground with someone when you're only vaguely acquainted with their body and person?

I used to tease a woman I was seeing that we could use a truck battery and alligator clips together. "It'll be our thing, just for me and you," I told her. "We're not using alligator clips," she would tell me with a deadpan glare.