Often we talk about sexual freedom and exploration, but we have a responsibility to our partners, both the one- night stands and the ones for life.
1. Knowing When To Say No
Sure, we desire sex and myriad experiences with all sorts of beautiful people, but when your partner is too debilitated to consent, you should turn down sex. Not only when they are drunk or under the influence, but also when your potential partner is emotionally or physically broken and using the sex to fill a void. This is because you become this person’s crutch and you risk hurting them more than helping. It is no longer good clean fun. It is taking advantage. The same could be true if your partner is a virgin. If you’re not prepared to care for the person should they want/need your continued presence, this is probably not the right encounter for you.
Ok, so there is this concept of pre-consent, aka you and your partner have decided sometime immediately before the act that it was alright to have a drunken tryst. Perhaps the being taken advantage of is part of the fun itself. But quite frankly, that is a slippery slope, and you might want to get it in writing just to cover all of the asses.
Being allowed to touch someone is insane. Really. Think about it. There aren’t many people you are allowed to touch period, let alone intimately. So should you choose to have sex with someone, no matter how demeaning or dehumanizing the sex act, you must always show respect to that person before, during, and afterward. Making someone feel shame for an act you both enjoyed and consented to is a very shitty thing to do. Plus, if you want to do that freaky shit again, you might want to show your gratitude. Don’t go trash talking to all of your buddies about that blah blah blah you did last night. Don’t post anything on social media. Just be a thoughtful human being.
Kind of building on the respect aspect, understand that every time you’re allowed to touch someone’s body you have a responsibility to care for them. Understand that you could set the tone for how they view sexuality, other women, other men, and themselves for the rest of their lives. A good experience goes a long way, but a bad experience could traumatize. So if his penis is tiny, don’t shame him. Coach him on eating and fingering. If she doesn’t have enough confidence to have sex with the lights on, start off with candles and build up her body confidence.
Now, I know, it isn’t your job to build someone’s self-esteem or be responsible for their hang-ups. Self-love comes from within the person themselves. However if you’re not willing to take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge the reality of your role, you might want to stick with number one: say no.
Photo Credit: Liz Lawley
A few years back, I encountered Dan Savage’s “Savage Love.” I never became an avid listener or reader, but one thing that truly resonated with me was the monogamish idea.
So we’ve got monogamy, more of a one-on-one equation, and monogamish, one-on-one with a twist.
My understanding of monogamish is simple: mutual embracing of all of your partner’s needs. So yes, if you all of a sudden want to go out and have a gangbang where firefighters jizz on your face, that’s awesome! BUT you do have to acknowledge that that may not suit your partner’s needs. In that vein, monogamish is a dialogue between two people dedicated to each other, about what they need from each other.
Dan (Mr. Savage if you’re nasty) advises people to be “GGG—good (in bed), giving (of equal pleasure), and game (for anything--within reason).” What I take this to mean is open-mindedness on both sides of the equation. The ish in monogamish seems to inherently denote multiple parties. However, I feel like for Savage it can also mean a movement away from the stiff traditional monogamous mindset i.e. you’re with me, don’t look, touch, or fantasize about anyone other than me.
Let’s look at this from a novice BDSM perspective:
Game for anything
Game for anything means that your partner will at least listen to any idea you have about sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean going along with it, but at least listening and brainstorming a way to satisfy that need or idea. Sometimes just being allowed to bounce something off your partner and break it down is refreshing. When there isn’t a way to do this, you get into the realm of shame, and that shit’s for the birds. Unintentional shame has no place in BDSM. This open dialogue exists to eliminate shame and create safe spaces where we can be as freaky as we want to be, so you and your partner can explore all ranges of kinky stuff.
Giving of equal pleasure
When you’re game for anything you can then start pleasing and satisfying your partner’s deepest darkest fantasies. This pleasure is not just physical. Pleasure is also visual and mental. Often, you don’t have to receive physical touch to feel pleasure. I find that, when I top, 85% of my pleasure is visual and mental. Power dynamics fascinate me, with all the different ways we submit or dominate in the spheres of our daily lives. While power is not always equal in relationships or sex, pleasure should be. Subs should feel like they’re getting what they need. Doms should feel like they’re getting what they need. Switches should feel like they’re getting what they need. This includes the after care ointments, chocolate, and conversation. Everyone should come away feeling pleased and comfortable thanks to the monogamish foundation of openness.
Good in Bed:
Game for anything + Mutual pleasure = good in bed.
My main sexual desire is to constantly push my boundaries. The idea of constant casual vanilla sex bores the living daylights outta me, while the idea of casual BDSM sex evokes a certain Jian Ghomeshi non-consensual psycho bullshit type of terror.
The complaint I have the most about sex is that my partner for that moment, whether long term or short term, wasn’t listening or paying attention to the situation or my verbal/non-verbal instructions. For relationships, this inattentiveness was mostly due to not being game for anything and becoming uncomfortable during the dialogue about sexual needs. Monogamy should offer a safe space for you to push the envelope as much as you want with someone you trust, ideally. Nothing should be taboo. The ish factor should offer that leeway for multiple partner play and general experimentation. That gangbang fantasy? Yea let’s try it? Golden showers? I don’t see why not! While you’re safe and trusting you can do whatever you like and be a sex rock star to your partner.
I’ve been wondering how to apply monogamish to my relationships. It just feels like it’s easier in theory than practice. Feelings are real, as is jealousy. Navigating real emotion while keeping a constant open mind while exploring multiple partners and pushing sexual boundaries, you will certainly encounter difficulties and challenges. I think that the dialogue and trust help me get through the hard stuff, but I’ve found that letting shit go is the most important thing. Letting go of the fear, letting go of the insecurity, and letting go of the hurt when you misperceive your partner’s motivation. In a way I feel like monogamish is only for the dedicated couple. It is far too much work for a couple who isn’t serious about each other. Or, maybe by starting off monogamish, relationships have a better success rate. But this is a conversation for another day.
I have a confession to make: I actually started this journey a year ago. It was around May last year when one of my closest friends suggested I explore and around July when I got up the courage to do so. In the beginning, around like July and August, I had two interactions that really resonated with me.
Note: I’ve modified some of the identifiable traits of these people because I don’t want to put all of their biz in the street.
The summer smelled of rotting garbage and roasting lamb. Hesitant, I headed to a divey bar in the heart of town. The man I was set to meet was much older than me, maybe late 40s or early 50s. A self-professed “Master in training,” he’d been in the community for over 20 years. The idea of “Master” and “engineer” led me to expect a buttoned-up stiff or a sinister trench coat-clad deviant, two thoughts that almost made me cancel.
As a precaution, I’d given all of the night’s details to my closest large male friend. I was supposed to message him when I got home following the date and, if I didn’t, he would call me the following morning.
With all my bases covered for my first blind date, I walked into the hole in the wall where we agreed to meet, my blue and white striped dress grazing the grimy bar floor. There he was. A regular guy. Maybe 5’9”. Shin length cargo shorts and an oversized dark tee. No trench. The clothes were inconsequential. What struck me the most was his air. He was calm and modest, yet his eyes never wavered and he spoke with confidence. Despite his slovenly exterior, his thoughts and speech were measured.
And scene. What happened? We hung out for five hours or so just laughing and talking.
Advice from the German
-Never sub for any master who doesn’t talk to you first about who you are and what you’re looking for
-Don’t be afraid to just jump in, but be smart and don’t do anything you don’t want to do
The German’s Biggest Regret
-Not getting into the community sooner
I’m sure he said more great things, but those were the two points that resonated. Oh! And there was one more thing that stood out: kinksters could be normal people too.
At the end of the night, I was so overwhelmed by how good a time we had that I kissed him. He tasted of cigarettes and whiskey; he tasted good. Around 1:30 a.m., I jumped in a cab home in a very pensive mood.
Photo Credit: http://tinyurl.com/mg4yrt7
Facing the wall, kneeling on the cushions, hands gripping the back of the sofa, the pole dancer looked over her shoulder with a who-stole-the-cookies-from-the-cookie-jar grin.
The Pole Dancer
Two weeks later, I sat in a popular gay bar. I was preparing for a big move and was only a month shy of leaving the country for a while, if not for good. The pole dancer picked me up at that bar. I was not attracted to her right off the bat, but after a couple dates, we started hanging out regularly and becoming intimate. I visited her lane house one afternoon. We made dinner and, as they do, things evolved.
Facing the wall, kneeling on the cushions, hands gripping the back of the sofa, the pole dancer looked over her shoulder with a who-stole-the-cookies-from-the-cookie-jar grin. Her black lace boy shorts traced her minimal ass, displaying her hard-earned fitness gains. She was a different person from the clumsy clothed woman who’d under seasoned the salmon just hours earlier. Nakedness gave her confidence.
Unlike with the German, I felt no hint of dominance in her personality, sexually or otherwise. In fact, she was more submissive than anyone I’d ever encountered. Her eyes screamed, “oops!” daring me to become angry. Provoking me.
Domination has always scared me because of a feeling I’d be good at it. One night, while I was spanking the pole dancer and slowly getting the hang of my style of humiliation talk, I started to feel powerful. The red hand and paddle marks riled me up and I felt myself settling into a very comfortable sense of control. Have you seen Black Swan? Do you remember that scene where Natalie Portman is turning into the black swan at the end of the movie? She’s breathing it in, winding her neck rhythmically, looking almost serpentine as she leaves her old skin and slides into a new one. Eventually, she starts beating her wings in a graceful yet aggressive way and turns completely into a black swan. Well, I started spanking harder in a graceful yet aggressive way and… stopped as I felt myself turning into someone I wasn’t ready to become and perhaps someone she was expecting to be.
The pole dancer and I didn’t work out, and at the end of the month I left the country. Inexperienced, selfish, and oblivious, I abandoned a sub, leaving her feeling emotionally unguarded and mishandled. I was not in a good place for any sort of relationship. However, life doesn’t pause to consider your voids and inadequacies. The pole dancer and I had slipped into a relationship structure which I tried to entertain despite my ill-preparedness.
I knew that domming required care physically. I’d heard that it was important to check in with your partner and make sure things weren’t going down the wrong road. Safe words. The whole nine.
What I failed to acknowledge was the emotional aftercare and, perhaps more importantly, the expectation management needed. I didn’t realize how much trust she’d put in me as a sub, so I treated it like a month-long hookup: full of respect but with no real chance of a relationship. I’d shirked my dom responsibility to care for my sub because I didn’t know what was expected of me. In a way, there was nothing BDSM specific to my mistake. It was a simple miscommunication between me, myself, and the pole dancer.
Things I learned from the pole dancer
-Emotional aftercare is just as important as physical aftercare, both immediately after a scene and long-term
-I can’t let someone I view solely as submissive top me unless I give the order; otherwise, it isn’t fulfilling
Advice from the pole dancer
-Never sub for anyone who needs to drink before a scene
In the end, I apologized repeatedly to the pole dancer for my negligence, but nothing came of it.
Photo Credit: http://tinyurl.com/qbu2g9c
Exploration of a switch
I guess it shocks me how differently I responded to the German and the pole dancer. In each circumstance, I really embodied the flow of the power dynamics; the urges that accompanied my roles were genuine albeit completely polar. After experiencing these opposing desires, I wondered if they could ever be satisfied with one partner. I wondered if monogamy could ever satisfy a switch fully, if one partner could, like me, embody both capacities, and, more accurately, display them in one sexual encounter.
He tasted of cigarettes and whiskey; He tasted good.
At the end of the night, I was overwhelmed by how good a time we had. I kissed him. He tasted of cigarettes and whiskey; He tasted good. Around 1:30AM, I jumped in a cab home from the bar in a very pensive mood.
Quest is a switch in training