Posts Tagged ‘communication’

I spent a delicious part of an afternoon last week (Independence Day, in fact; nice way to celebrate…) being sort-of practice-topped, sort of actually-dominated by a new, switchy lover. He is about to have the opportunity to play with someone he’s had his eye on for five years now, and I always like to help a brother out.

(Insert inappropriate incest fantasy remarks here…)

It turns out that he’s not lacking much at all in the hard skills department; while I have yet to show him how to work my four-foot singletail, I received a very delicious flogging. What I found myself dipping in and out of subspace to do was to give him ideas about what might be called soft skills.

Now naturally, I was working from a place of what I was wanting in the moment, what was going to make me feel more desired, sink me deeper into trance, bring me more under control. And yes, it was a very interesting and fun dance – working from my experience to instruct, while simultaneously letting myself surrender to the experience itself. When we were planning it, I joked that he’d know he was doing well if he could keep me from instructing him.

But some of the things that came up seemed to me to be fairly generalizable for newer tops or doms, especially those playing with new partners. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Keep in control. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to this and aren’t really sure what you’re doing. Faking it – in the confidence sense – can really go far. I’m not saying you should do something that you don’t know how to do – please don’t suspend someone, or cane them, or poke them with needles, if you don’t know what you’re doing! – but rather that assuming an air of control and confidence can go a long way toward making the submissive partner’s experience more fulfilling. In my case, I have a much easier time letting go if I sense that the person topping me has the situation in-hand.

Some ways of doing this, practically speaking: use occasional sudden, sharp movements (push me down, slap me harder than I expect after lulling me with sensuality, grab me by the hair); inspect/appraise me; tell me what to do without too many words; restrict my choices; correct my mistakes with calm harshness.

There are going to be moments of hesitation and doubt, of course. The trick is to have the mini-panic-attack inside your head, then find a way to either change the activity that’s causing you stress, or express your doubt in a dominant way. Which brings me to:

2. Keep in touch. The corollary to the above is that, especially with new partners, checking in frequently is important. Some subs go non-verbal (hello!), and many don’t respond well to questions in the moment, unless the answers are a simple yes or no. Even then, sometimes the sub will be in a space where he doesn’t know what he wants; some subs go into a kind of thrall in scene and get deeply into surrendering their will.

Especially for people like this, keeping in touch is key. I mean this in two ways:

-Physical. Touch them with your hand. Check the temperature of their extremities. Press your body into them, feel their reaction, then pull away again. It all performs the triple function of teasing, cherishing, and checking on them. Watch their breathing. Is it slow and deep and trancey? You’re probably okay. Is it rapid and shallow? This could mean several things – panic, extreme excitement, about to faint. This is where the second way comes in:

-Verbal. It’s sad, but true, that the last thing a sub wants to hear during a scene is “Are you okay?” But maintaining the illusion of dominance, non-consent, or whatever you’re playing with doesn’t mean there’s no way to find out what’s going on if you’re confused. Say you’ve been hitting them for a while, and it’s escalating, but you reach a point where you’re not sure if their reactions mean they’re near their limits and might safeword, or that they’re about to have an orgasm. Stop. Put your hand on them. Make them look you in the eyes, or loop your arm around their chest and growl/whisper in their ear. “You had enough? Or do I need to beat you some more?” There are a thousand variations of this, of course. Generally, you’ll know pretty quickly. If they’re in a “wanting more” space, you might even get some begging out of it. (I love both saying and hearing “please, PLEASE…”) If you’ve hit their limit, this will be a good chance for them to breathe, collect themselves, come back to earth a little, and receive some tenderness. They may still be non-verbal, but if you’re unsure, wait for an answer. Consent is a continuous process.

3. Close the scene clearly. Not knowing whether a scene is over or not, or whether the dominant’s attention is still on me, or whether I did okay, or whatever is one of the most demoralizing things that can happen to a sub. I know I’m not alone in being extra-sensitive when I’m in subspace: everything is magnified, everything the dominant does has meaning, and very small slights can make me feel completely abandoned. All of these skills I’m talking about are about maintaining clarity, but this might be the most important one. When you feel the scene is over, let the sub know. This can be done in many ways. One thing I recognized the other day is that I really like praise and tenderness afterward, especially if I endured something difficult. “Good girl,” “It’s okay, it’s over, you did soooo well,” “You pleased me very much,” and so on. Petting along with this also helps. Some subs aren’t like this at all – some prefer to be abandoned as part of their kink; some want some alone-time to process their feelings, but many will want some kind of aftercare. And regardless of aftercare needs – which you can talk about in advance of the scene – making it clear that the scene is ending is critical. Take the collar off, start untying ropes, tell the sub how well they did, that it’s time to come down, or whatever. The clearer you make it, the easier it is for the sub to return to normal headspace.

What do you think? How generalizable are these? Can you think of others?

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It’s a long time since I’ve answered any advice questions here, which makes the name of the blog somewhat incoherent. But I’ve had one sitting on the back burner for some time, and I figured I’d come back and answer it.

Please, any advice questions, comment, or send me email!

Some friends of mine are considering embarking on a power exchange relationship (probably more the Master/slave kind than the dom/sub kind). They have very little experience so far. Can you recommend any websites that would be good educational resources for them?

-A Nonymous

Part of the reason it took me so long to get back to you on this, A Nonymous, is because I honestly don’t know a lot of educational resources on the web for this sort of thing. The resources that tend to be available are 1) porn, and 2) erotica. Both of these, generally speaking, present a distorted view of how these kinds of relationships work, but they tend to be where people go when they’re looking for how to structure a BDSM relationship. This, for obvious reasons, is problematic.

There is a marvelous little book, entitled Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual, which details a particular way to train a slave, including real-world advice on contracts and other generalities.

The best resources I know of on the web tend to be thoughtful blogs by people who are in relationships like this; I especially love Orlando’s blog, which details his incredibly loving relationship with his partner, Murre; Little Girl’s blog is also a beautiful detailing of a relationship that has evolved over time; and I think Maymay’s blog is essential reading for anyone who is interested in kink and how it is evolving.

But the best resource of all for people just starting out in this is each other. They need to do a lot of talking: about what each of them might want, what they’re afraid of, what they currently believe their hard limits to be. About what being a slave, or a master, means to each of them; about what each of them expects from such a relationship; about how the arrangement can be changed or ended once it begins. What their responsibilities are to each other. What “punishment” means.

I hope that helps.

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Saw a wonderful, sweet client today. He was terribly nervous, for all the usual reasons: not wanting to get found out, worrying that his desires were strange, not believing that he could broach the topic with his wife, constantly window-shopping pro domme websites.

It amazes me how needed the services I’m now offering seem to be. I find myself, these days, in this wonderful space of healing: of validating, of normalizing, of bringing people more into themselves.

What kills me, though, is how much I talk to people about stuff that is freely available on the Internet and in books. How little people actually research, and how much time they instead spend looking at porn, or trawling pro-domme websites for gems that only very rarely exist. They’re seeking answers for what they find hot, what keeps drawing them back, in places that are designed to draw them in commercially, take their money, keep the closet door locked and avoid self-analysis.

It’s amazing how many people come to me just because they need someone they can talk to about their fetish, or because they just want to hear someone say that what they’re into is okay.

I’m thrilled to provide this service, don’t get me wrong. And when it’s appropriate, I will still recommend some of these people to particular service providers. After all, I’m not going to get everyone to ask their wives to dress them in women’s underwear and peg them. For some people, it’s just not going to be possible.

But it continues to be my ideal. The thing I strive for: to bring people’s desires out into the light, to offer them a space where it’s even possible to explore those desires with someone they love, instead of with a stranger.

It’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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Wow, I haven’t been here in a while, and for that, I apologize. It’s been a bit of a crazy time around these here parts.

I’m going to be back to answering advice questions shortly – I’ve got one in the can about sugar daddies that I’m still mulling over. But today I just want to put something out there: I’d like to know who you guys are.

So if you’re reading, speak up! Who are you, and what are you into? If you have a blog that I should be reading, tell me about it!

And I’ll write something substantial soon, I promise.

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Sorry for the long hiatus; holidays, Martian death flu, and all manner of other drama have kept me from this page. Hoping to remedy that and crank out more regular material.

Ages ago, a friend asked me how I manage privacy online. See, I have a few online identities. Some things I write are public, some aren’t. Some are under my real name, and some under this one. Some I write in a place where anyone can see it, unless I lock the post so only friends can see it. But what made this question interesting for my questioner was the fact that sometimes, I write under my real name about the same topics I cover here.

So what’s the deal? How do I decide which parts of me are public and which aren’t?

It’s probably telling that I received this question in October and still haven’t answered it.

Recently, I kind of figured out the short answer to this: as my real name, I write about topics pertaining to sexuality and relationships; as Delilah, I write about topics pertaining to my sexuality and relationships. There’s a third problem, too: there are aspects of my relationships that I consider so private and precious that I don’t even write about them here – particularly because I know that so many of my readers know me in real life. I’ve therefore published erotica under still another name, and blog in total secrecy (nobody knows the username but me) about the deepest stuff.

It’s probably also telling that I feel the need to have all of this material out there, even if nobody ever reads it or knows that it’s me writing it. What can I say: I’ve been a journaler and a maker of stories for as long as I can remember, and when I don’t write down what’s happened to me, the intensity of my experiences (which often, surprise surprise, are in the sexual realm) slip from my consciousness quickly. It’s long been important to me to have a narrative of my life, something to look back on so I can see where I’ve been and remember what’s happened to me.

My friend asked whether it ever gets weird when worlds collide: like if people I know socially start buying videos from my site, or people who have seen my writing assume things about me before meeting me. The answer to this is “sort of.” This has actually occurred a couple of times just in the past weeks. Someone who knows me socially contacted me in my capacity as Delilah for some kink consultation in person. And someone who found my writing under my real identity contacted me and seems to be assuming, because I’m poly, that I would want to meet him.

Neither of these things is “weird,” per se, but it has been and continues to be a kind of tightrope walk, figuring out what I want the whole damn world to know and what I really would rather only my friends know and what I need to write about so that someone will read it, but nobody needs to know that it’s me writing it.

I’m a great admirer of Maymay in this regard (as in many other regards), in that he has the flaming gonads to be completely out online and in every other area of his life. But even he remarks that he doesn’t write very much about the literal ins and outs of his own sex life. He’s about half a generation behind me in age, and I’m sincerely hoping that his bravery and forthrightness is a sign of things to come. For my part, though, I still can’t deal with the idea of my family finding out that I was a sex worker. I’m not sure what that says about me.

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All right folks, it’s looking official: Monday Advice is moving to Tuesdays, due to my need to deliver a different article on Mondays. I apologize for missing last week; please have patience as I adjust to changes!

All of that said: please, send me questions! I’m running a bit low again. I’ll have one for next week, but after that I’ll need some more. Seriously, folks – don’t you have problems??

This week’s question asks: what happens when you’re kinky, but not like that?

My partner is into something I am not. I need help finding a way to be responsive in it. To be clear, this is not an issue of boundaries, or feeling safe, or anything like that. It simply doesn’t turn me on, and as a result, in the moment often strikes me as stagey, silly, or absurd (as kink to the non-invested often appears), and so I do struggle with inappropriate reactions (i.e., laughter, although I have not been so insensitive as to do so out loud.) Sex is not merely an exchange of “I’ll do this thing I don’t dig if you’ll do X,” I know, but as we are talking about something that neither harms nor bothers me, I’d rather find a way to make this satisfying than to toss it out of our repertoire.

First of all, gentle reader, I’m happy to see that you’re GGG – as Dan Savage would have it, Good (as in good in bed), Giving (generous to your partner), and Game (up for anything – within reason). You’re already most of the way to making this okay, since you know that you’re willing to do this for your partner since s/he likes it so much and it isn’t really bothering you. One of the realities of good sex is that sometimes, we agree to do something that we might not be that into because our partner loves it, and in exchange, they do something for us. One hopes that this is not the totality of a sex life – if it is, then you’re probably sexually incompatible – but as people are, well, different from one another, sometimes you’re going to have to make allowances.

That said, if the activity in question not only isn’t working for you but puts you at risk for laughing at your partner, that could go poorly. So how do you make something seem hot to you when objectively, it isn’t?

There are a few answers to this. The first is about the power of submission. Are you submissively inclined toward your partner, or would you like to be? If the two of you are playing with power dynamics in addition to whatever sensation play you might be doing, it may be worthwhile to experiment with putting you in a submissive headspace before you begin this activity. Often, an attitude of submission in a scene can make it easier – and much more enjoyable – to take something the dominant is doing that’s not your favorite. This phenomenon can take many forms: you may feel that you’re doing this in service to the dominant, which gives some people a thrill; you may feel silly and embarrassed (which you already seem to) and let that be sexy. Or you can think of this act as another way that your partner “owns” and uses you – in that good way.

If that stuff doesn’t do it for you, you can talk to your partner about letting the inherent silliness of whatever it is you’re doing come out: have a scene where you laugh together, where you brat him a bit and he puts you back in line. One day when you’re not in the middle of a scene, let him know that you find whatever-this-is kind of silly, but that you want to make it fun for both of you. Stagey-ness can be a lot of fun: if it feels over the top, take it all the way over.

The other option, which may not be the best but can work, is to simply transform the experience in your head. It’s not quite “lie back and think of England,” but when he starts doing this thing that doesn’t get you off, think about something that does. Focus on the hotness of your partner, or think about something else you two do that really turns your crank. People often feel guilty about fantasizing about something – or someone – else during sex, but the fact is that everybody does it, and so long as you’re not always thinking about something else while your partner’s banging away at you in whatever way, there’s no harm in it.

In general, though, I recommend that you make it about the thread between the two of you and not just about the act. It’ll be a lot more fun for both of you – and you may even find a new piece of the sexual repertoire that works for you.

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Ever since my alter-ego took on a new writing assignment, I’ve been having some trouble getting the advice out on Mondays. I’m considering changing the day of the week I do it. But for now, I give you Monday Advice on Tuesday.

Dear Delilah,
My partner N and I have been together for well over a decade. We’ve had ups and downs in our sex life over that time, and we’re currently working hard on getting to a place with it that makes both of us happy. We have tried various kinky activities in the past, and they were fun but never became a large part of our sexual repertoire. However, we both have other partners, and I have been exploring my kinky side with mine in a way I never have with N. I know that N is unhappy that there are things I am “sharing” with others which I am not doing with her. I know that every couple has ways in which they aren’t completely sexually compatible, but what can I do about the things that I want to do with other people but just am not interested in doing with N? I’m GGG, but there are things that just isn’t sufficient for.
– Sad in the City

Dear Sad,

This is a somewhat tricky situation, but if it weren’t, I imagine you wouldn’t have written. My first response, though, is to ask you a question: what things are you willing to do with N? It can be very difficult, in poly relationships, to feel that there are things that you and your primary partner simply don’t share – especially sexual things. But it can also be very difficult to be as kinky as you want to be with the person you share your life with, especially if you’re trying in all other ways to have a relationship of equals. When you do kinky sex with someone regularly – especially if the power only flows in one direction – the question of who does the laundry and who pays the bills becomes even more charged than it usually is. Not to mention that sometimes, you just don’t see your partner in those terms. And sometimes, especially if you’ve been with someone for a long time, you’ve discovered your kinkier side with someone else.

I can’t count how many clients I had when I was a professional domme who couldn’t ever imagine approaching their wives about their kinky desires. For the most part, these were women these men had chosen to marry before they knew about their kinks, or they were caught up in some virgin/whore dichotomy and chose these women to marry and raise kids with, and went to women like me for the other stuff. In your case, though, it sounds like you’ve given kink with your primary a fair shake, and it just hasn’t worked for you. In that brilliant way that poly people do, you’ve found appropriate outlets for your desires elsewhere.

But now your primary is unhappy. Why? Because she perceives that you’re having all the great sex with someone else, not with her. So the question becomes not what to do about those things you don’t want to do with her, but what about those things you do want to do?

It’s impossible to make a happy sex life out of things you’re not doing. But there are many, many things to do in sex. It can be a huge trap to focus on the things you’re not doing together – especially if you both are doing those things with other partners. The thing to do is focus on what you’re already doing together, what you could be doing together that you know works but aren’t doing for some reason, and what else you could try that might work.

Comparisons, as one of Shakespeare’s fools said, are odorous. Experienced polyamorous people know the dangers of comparing oneself to one’s partner’s other partners; that way lies madness. Comparing the sex you’re having is no exception – in fact, it’s probably the cardinal application of the general rule. The thing to do is address the sex you’re having in that relationship, and find the ways of having it that are good for both of you. This might involve some experimentation, and maybe bringing back some of the things you did in the past that you found “fun.” It may involve trying some new things, or falling back on old standbys that you know work well.

I’m a pretty kinky person, but I know that with one of my partners, the most profound and satisfying thing we can do is fuck in missionary position. The way we connect energetically takes care of the rest. With another partner, sometimes he gets full satisfaction just from going down on me – which I don’t enjoy all that much with anyone else. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m not swinging from the chandeliers with either of those partners, and it doesn’t seem to bother them, either. It can take time to get to the point where you’re not constantly thinking about how you must be falling short compared to your partner’s other partners, with whom your partner clearly has a much more fulfilling and exciting sex life (read sarcasm here). But it is possible.

The trick is to connect, without expectations. Undress each other. Look at each other. Get into bed together and just touch each other for a while. Revel in the feel and familiarity of each other’s skin. Even if you don’t have the most exciting sex ever, you’ll be rebuilding the closeness that brought you together in the first place.

Next, make a point of it. Have boring sex, once a week at the least. Make special time for it. As you go on, keep trying new things, or old things, one at a time. Really explore each other. Sometimes, poly couples can fall into the complacency trap: because all the exciting sex is coming from outside the primary relationship, it’s easy just to share the non-sexual, day-to-day life with one’s familiar, primary partner and let the sex life fizzle. Before you know it, you’re just like best friends who are roommates. Add scheduling craziness to this and the pattern becomes nigh-unbreakable.

So schedule it in. Mark the time for each other in your calendars. Keep to it, and start finding the things that make your sex together special, rather than concentrating on what’s missing.

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