ASK THE THERAPIST
by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1999 by William A. Henkin
<Q> My significant other is a private player, but I enjoy play parties. How do I get her interested in going with me?
<A> Some people are truly introverted and others are truly extroverted: some people like to see and be seen, while others think their lives are no one else's business. If you and your S.O. are different in this very fundamental way, you may never be able to both get everything you want all the time. However, you can both get everything you want some of the time, or some of what you want all the time, if you're willing to communicate, negotiate, compromise, and be creative.
First of all, go slowly. For her first party your S.O. might be more comfortable hanging out and watching, rather than playing. Once she's there, if she feels safe and the spirit moves her, start with a little play, and be ultra-conservative about her limits. If she bottoms make sure that as her top you protect her and the space you play in from distractions and intruders. If she tops perhaps she can negotiate with a more experienced player to co-top with her.
If your S.O. does agree to go to a party with you, spend a little extra intimate, private time with her in turn, just before and/or just after the public event. If you both agree to have the best times you possibly can doing what the other likes, you can expand the boundaries of your relationship instead of feeling each other's desires as a burden.
Sometimes it's easier for private people to play in public when they can't see others around them. If your S.O. goes to a party to bottom you might put a blindfold on her. If she tops she might want to use blinders. With outside visual stimuli reduced your partner can be more aware of the concentrated focus between the two of you than usual, which may allow her to feel especially intimate. You might feel that same focus more strongly as well, and get off even more on the public aspect of your play. Pay special attention to your S.O. while she is sense-deprived, as well as before and afterwards: she may feel a little fearful giving up control of her sight that way. And use the blindfold or blinders as part of your scene, not just a piece of funny costume. Otherwise your partner might feel less, rather than more, secure.
Finally, consider the nature of the public play you want your S.O. to participate in. A party with a dozen intimate friends may be much easier (or harder) for her to deal with than a party where dozens of relative strangers have their eyes on her. As always, discuss your wants and needs ahead of time so that you both have some idea what a successful scene will look like, and review your safewords, since your partner is more likely than usual to be up against her limits.
Whatever you decide, if you keep on talking as openly with each other as it seems you already do, you'll make believers out of people who think it's true that opposites attract.
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