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Thursday, September 4, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: BDSMC

Posted by on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

First up, I have been reading and genuinely enjoying your column for the better part of my adult life, and I want to thank you for it. You provide a real service.

So, after years of enjoying your column and my own kink, which is fairly varied, I (a bi woman) have settled down with a man who confuses me. He withholds sex for weeks on end and then will abruptly and without any generosities ask me to go down on him. We've been together for over two years, and from the start I've found him to be oddly uncomfortable about sex. He will not talk about it. But when he does indulge me, an animal-like intensity emerges. Recently, that's developed into a striking dominance that I find incredibly hot. (I am a happy sub.) I'd like to encourage further exploration, but I feel like if I were to do so, I would have to do so surreptitiously.

So my questions are these: is my wish to "encourage" him ethical? If so, how should I do it? And finally, do you know why a man who obviously enjoys sex is so afraid of it?

Thanks so much for all you do. Especially "santorum."

Tender Bottom

My response after the jump...


I'm torn about how to respond to your letter. On the one hand, TB, I want you to be sexually fulfilled—I want all my readers to be sexually fulfilled*—and I could probably come up with a few ideas about how you might go about surreptitiously encouraging your boyfriend to become more dominant in the sack.

On the other hand...

BDSM—whether you're talking simple, playful, mildly-D/s-flavored sex or hardcore S&M scenes with all the props and costumes—requires good communication. It requires good communication between games/scenes, good communication during games/scenes, and good communication after games/scenes. Good communication is so important to bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission that I think a C ought to be slapped on the end of the abbreviation: BDSMC. So I don't think the issue is one of ethics; people subtly nudge their partners in the direction of what they enjoy all the time. The paramount issue is emotional and physical safety, TB, and nudging in the direction of BDSM with someone who can't communicate about their interests and desires strikes me as risky and unsafe.

My advice: If you want to explore D/s with your partner, TB, you've gotta get him talking about his desires, interests, kinks, and the sex life you already share. The place to start the conversation seems obvious: Talk with him about why he can't talk about sex—and do it via text or e-mail. I don't know what your boyfriend's hangups or issues are (only he knows), TB, but I do know that some people find it easier to communicate about sex in writing. You can't communicate in writing during sex, of course, but getting him talking to you about sex via text or e-mail would be a start.

* Except my asexual readers, of course. I want you guys to be sexually unfulfilled. Or asexually fulfilled. Whatever you guys want or don't want is exactly what I want or don't want for you.


Comments (32) RSS

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and this...

* Except for readers who think consent isn't necessary.

Just saying.
Posted by IslandGuy on September 4, 2014 at 4:23 PM · Report this
emma's bee 2
Hmm. This new guy doesn't sound like a good match for you (or anyone?): You say you enjoy your sex life and varied kinks, and then there's "He withholds sex for weeks on end, and then will abruptly and without any generosities ask me to go down on him."

Doesn't sound like a sexual relationship worth pursuing, in either BDSM or vanilla fashion, if you have a much higher libido than your partner.
Posted by emma's bee on September 4, 2014 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Sea Otter 3
Maybe it's just a communication problem, but the dude kind of sounds like a jerk.
Posted by Sea Otter on September 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM · Report this
Philophile 4
Wow amazing advice. Much better than my initial, "the sex is great, the relationship is not, end the bad part and you might save the good part."

I understand some women get off on being treated poorly as a kink, but this kind of sex doesn't seem very safe until it's negotiated within a good relationship with excellent communication. I think they should stop having sex til he talks.

To answer her specific questions, it's ok to inform another about your kinks and this should encourage their interest, it's not ok to coerce or pressure. He doesn't seem afraid of sex so much as only concerned with getting himself off, using it to intimidate her and withholding it as a different form of control.
Posted by Philophile on September 4, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Corylea 5
Selfishness in bed and dominance are not -- repeat NOT -- the same thing. It may feel like it gratifies your kink for your boyfriend to order you to go down on him, but if he doesn't care about your satisfaction at all, he's going to be a pretty unsatisfying dom -- as well as a fairly shitty partner -- over the long haul.
Posted by Corylea on September 4, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 6
@1: call it whatever you want, its still consent required.
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 4, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
I would disagree with Dan that you can't communicate via text during sex. It's certainly awkward, but not impossible.

...hell, it's probably someone's kink.
Posted by Sathya on September 4, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
@3 I think you summed it up very well. I am surprised Dan didn't suggest she DTMFA.
Posted by BG on September 4, 2014 at 5:54 PM · Report this
How does a grown-up woman, who isn't a complete conformist, 'settle down' with a man who is cold, withholding and uncommunicative?

If submission is really her Thing, how did she get to be 30 without having a clue of finding a partner she can do that with?

Nothing she has written gives any hint that this guy is ANYTHING but Bad News. She may be mistaking sociopath for 'dom.'
Posted by Polyphemus on September 4, 2014 at 6:01 PM · Report this
She's settled down with a guy who confuses her? Huh? He withholds for weeks on end? Then wants oral without giving? Yuck.

She needs to start talking and he needs to start listening, otherwise it'll all fall apart. Animal intensity is great, but it only gets one so far. Animal intensity with communication and intimacy thrown in = awesome and game changing.
Posted by phuni44 on September 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
I don't know, the LW doesn't seem to want to leave this guy. She says he withholds sex, but even as she says that she doesn't seem terribly upset about it. Maybe she's just a happy person.

If she doesn't want to leave, I don't see why she shouldn't try to improve her sex life. She could pay attention to what triggers those wonderful moments when he responds to her sexual overtures with "an animal-like intensity." Is it when he's relaxed or stressed? Has he masturbated recently? Looked at porn? Is there a particular touch he enjoys? If she pays attention, she may be able to call up those circumstances more often.

As for why he's afraid of sex, well, he probably has some issues. Figuring that out would probably take therapy, and might have unpredictable consequences, once he faces those issues. As to why the LW doesn't mind dating someone who withholds intimacy... she might want to talk to a therapist of her own about that.
Posted by EricaP on September 4, 2014 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Interesting that there's a bit of Julius King in Mr Savage after all. He's probably wise not to unleash it.
Posted by vennominon on September 4, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 13
Personally, I think this relationship sounds doomed. But Dan is right. Communication is the key. With good communication, there is at least the possibility of salvaging something of a workable sexual relationship here. Without better communication, it's a lost cause.

Communicating by text or e-mail is worth trying, but may not be workable for everyone. Dan, of course, is a writer. He communicates in writing for a living. Writing is his profession, and he's good at it. I like to write, and like to think I'm pretty good at expressing myself in writing too. But some people are terrible writers, and trying to communicate in writing might just make it more difficult. So certainly give writing a try, but don't hold your breath. If writing isn't your husband's thing, try other methods of communication. One way or another, you're going to have to force him to learn to communicate better, or forget it.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on September 4, 2014 at 10:00 PM · Report this
I think this guy is communicating very clearly through his actions that he's a selfish asshole. Withholding sex then demanding gratification isn't dominance, it's controlling, selfish and rude. I understand the draw of feeling wanted and how powerful that can be but I think he is exploiting that in his partner and I doubt that bodes well for them long term. DTMFA.
Posted by jujubee80 on September 5, 2014 at 3:58 AM · Report this
Gou Tongzhi 15
He sounds like a creep and a selfish asshole. DTMFA.
Posted by Gou Tongzhi on September 5, 2014 at 4:52 AM · Report this
Posted by Gamebird on September 5, 2014 at 5:34 AM · Report this
T 17
Yeah, this was way easier than you made it - DTMFA. The LW admits she's "settled down" and her letter is devoid of the usual "I love him more than anything and everything else about our relationship is perfect" nonsense. To me, the letter reads like she knows she's settling for an unfulfilling relationship, and was looking for a Savage-sanctioned out. I think she wanted a simple DTMFA response.
Posted by T on September 5, 2014 at 9:38 AM · Report this
I'm a high-libido sexy bi woman and I was married to that for 10yrs. He only got to be more and more selfish and more threatened by my success/happiness to the point where he enjoyed refusing me more than he enjoyed having sex. When I realized it and wouldn't let him control me that way any longer he got meaner and his true colors came all of the way through.

Moral of the story: don't let him control or shame you because of your high libido. DTMFA
Posted by BiB on September 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 19
@18: "he enjoyed refusing me more than he enjoyed having sex. "

That seems to come up in a lot of these onesided letters, I really wish people wouldn't try to justify the abuse as a "fetish".
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Wow. What an interesting thread. I am the author of the original inquiry and found so many of your replies to be very insightful. I also found some to be... extreme. My partner is a jerk - I can't sugar coat that, but I see the good in him and I love him. I appreciated the comment that I may just be "a happy person," because I am. I prefer to find the good rather than the difficult.

The comment that I found extreme (not to mention confusing) was that in which a reader called me a "conformist". I was raised by a fairly crazed feminist lesbian, dated gender queer people for a good portion of my adult life, and consort with mostly the same crowd. So if I were to conform to what was around me, I'd be dating a tranny and working on artificial insemination. Instead, I chose to love this guy. It actually takes strength to be with him - a lot.

I appreciate everyone's interest. Thank you all for your input.
Posted by Carcioffi on September 5, 2014 at 9:24 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 21
Carcioffi @20,

“My partner is a jerk - I can't sugar coat that, but I see the good in him and I love him.”

Why do you choose to partner with someone who is a jerk instead of someone who isn’t? You don’t have to partner with this man to love him. I am sure you see the good in and love many people you aren’t partnered with. In the long run, living with a jerk will make you less happy, Is that what you want for yourself?

If you’re a happy person, you’re very attractive. You could be loving and partnering with an interesting dom who is not a jerk.
Posted by Alison Cummins on September 6, 2014 at 5:28 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 22
@20: "The comment that I found extreme (not to mention confusing) was that in which a reader called me a "conformist". I was raised by a fairly crazed feminist lesbian, dated gender queer people for a good portion of my adult life, and consort with mostly the same crowd"

I wouldn't say that necessarily, but perhaps the origin is your desire to settle for such a domestic situation? He's not "good" to and for you, regardless of any perceived iota of goodness. If this is "safe" enough for you to still consider pursuing, perhaps your desires for a partner are conventional, even if you do not consider yourself so?
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 6, 2014 at 7:32 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 23
I mean, you've dated more "radical" individuals, but don't you deserve better than what you have right now and for the future?
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 6, 2014 at 7:33 AM · Report this
Philophile 24
@20 I'm guessing the sex is fantastic for you to like the jerk, you don't give any other reason for the attachment. If you can't divert your interest or change the partner feeling, you might try to require him to take baby steps in learning to converse about sex before permitting sex. Like, when he initiates, you can respond a bit but don't let him in your mouth/pussy until he listens to you talk about sex. Then start asking him to return the kinds of sentiments that you give. I'm assuming you need to be able to tell him what you like, know what he likes, and negotiate the kind of good sex that you've been having aboveboard and improve it. You can demonstrate the first step and show him that it leads to his orgasm with you. I think you'll eventually find satisfying sex if you put some brakes on this ultimately unsatisfying sex. Finding or making a good dom seems easier but emotions are difficult, maybe you can't look past him yet.
Posted by Philophile on September 6, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 25
@24: "'m guessing the sex is fantastic for you to like the jerk,"

Didn't they say it was nonexistent?
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 6, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 26
I mean, I've only got one-sided opinions to go by with the intentional lack of communication, it ~seems~ like she's more appreciative of the crumbs thrown her way.
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
@25, not "nonexistent" --

"But when he does indulge me, an animal-like intensity emerges"

She likes the sex, what there is of it.

But Carcioffi, aren't relationships supposed to be about helping each other face the hard stuff life throws at us. When you partner is the hard stuff, and it takes strength to be with him, maybe you're not good for each other?
Posted by EricaP on September 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Carcioffi, you are trying to fix something that might be beyond repair. You know he's a jerk, but that's fine with yyou - okay your call. But when it "takes strength and lots of it" to be with someone, you need to do some thinking. Relationships should give you strength, not use it up. He will suck all your happy attitude and your strength without so much as a thank you.

I know this cuz I was with such a guy for 20 long years. It's death by a thousand cuts and you don't realize until you can barely recognize yourself. Being with someone who "takes strength" is ultimately exhausting and demoralizing. I too am a happy and strong person, please don't think you're immune.

Either work it out to your satisfaction or cut your losses. Your way or the highway, because his way is not gonna get better.

Posted by phuni44 on September 6, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this
sissoucat 29
@LW 20 :

Animal intensity is very short-term, with a jerk.

Enjoy the jerk as long as you feel like it, and then dump him. Expect retaliation then, and with more than animal intensity ; dump the jerk in a "planning your escape" way.

Meanwhile, don't get legally entangled with the jerk. No kids, no marriage, no money account sharing.

Enjoy yourself in this short-term undeavour.
Posted by sissoucat on September 6, 2014 at 11:08 PM · Report this
here's my only thought. he sounds gay. yes yes, i know, he's banging (or not) a WOman. it has been my (very varied) SWF experience, especially from having an affinity for the femme boys, that they and any boys who do not like to talk (even dirty) and love BJs and who are super dom (or even aggressive) and nonreciprocal, and also who tend to not like to kiss (i realize you didn't say this, but i have to wonder if it happens to apply as well) really would rather be banging (or getting servicing by) boys.

all that said, bring a man into the room and see what happens, that is just my $.02
Posted by nnob on September 6, 2014 at 11:15 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 31
@30: His sadism seems to revolve around making her unhappy, servile and codependent. Boys weren't mentioned. I can sort of understand your theory, but those dudes I've known just enjoy using/abusing other humans, I don't think being "gay" factors in other than being an equal opportunity douche.
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 7, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 32
@29: "Expect retaliation then, and with more than animal intensity "

Yeah, wouldn't surprise me with any lizard-person refuse to communicate-brand sadist.
Posted by undead ayn rand on September 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Report this

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