Out of the Shadows: How Not to Introduce a Vanilla to BDSM


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How Not to Introduce a Vanilla to BDSM
(4 entries)
The following selections from my correspondence with Melissa are quoted with Melissa's permission.

Melissa
Email Address omitted by request.

Q: I am very happy to find a website/person to write to potentially receive some support, help and gain a better understanding of what my husband expressed to me three days ago. We have a very good marriage and overall communication. But last Friday after setting the mood, he (for the first time!) said he bought me something to wear. I was so excited expecting some beautiful lingerie. It was however a latex outfit with 4" strapped high heels. In another box were all the bondage toys. I freaked out. I freaked out and it led to a weekend of fighting, crying, sadness, feelings of deception, low self-esteem and questioning of whether our whole relationship had been a "farce". In any case, we have now communicated about fantasies and desires like never before. We have even acted some of them out. But somehow I still feel quite angry and lost. He has been visiting websites for a few years and masturbating to different bondage scenes. I really need help dealing with this. Can you offer any advice?


nflauren
Email Address: nflauren@submission.net.

A: Hi, Melissa.

I'm glad you and your husband are communicating about all of this! At least that is a start. :)

I gather from your letter that your husband had never mentioned anything about his BDSM interests before the latex/toys fiasco. So, I can certainly understand this:

>But somehow I still feel quite angry and lost.

I can imagine that not only would you feel angry at the time, but that the feelings of anger and betrayal are likely to persist for a long time. It's bad enough to communicate in advance and then discover you just didn't communicate enough---which happens lots of the time in scenes even with the best prior negotiation and communication. You just can't always think of everything in advance. But it's a terrible shock to feel that things were hidden from you or sprung on you, without your having any prior knowledge or say in the matter. You express the range of feelings very well.

Getting over anger and latent worries about what else your husband might not be saying out loud takes time. Scenes that go as badly as you described often do a lot of damage to trust between the partners. The damage often persists for months or a year even when there is a good faith effort to talk things out. So far, so good---you and he are talking. And he is very lucky, because you seem open to exploring things with him even after that experience.

It might help to take a look at some readings on healing and recuperating from situations that damage trust between partners: cheating, lying, etc. It's normal for you to take a long time to get over it; and it might help your husband to realize how normal long-term consequences really are. Your husband might get frustrated after a while of apologizing, expecting the matter to be done with; but in practice, these feelings seem to last longer than most people expect.

>He has been visiting websites for a few years and masturbating to
>different bondage scenes.

One thing I can suggest to you is for you to do some readings about BDSM of all kinds. You might find things other than bondage that excite you. Much of BDSM is about exploring fantasy lives, and about sharing that experience with a partner. If you independently found some element in BDSM that appealed to you rather than doing just the things your husband finds hot, you might find some balance in that. Oh---but as you and your husband learned---it's a good idea to talk to your husband first before going out and buying that bullwhip. :)

Another thing you and he might want to do is spend some time reading together about negotiation and how to negotiate.

MORE INFO:
What Should a
Negotiation Cover?
Even though you did learn by your bath in the water last weekend, and even though you say the two of you communicate well, it sounds like your husband missed the importance of this step in his many years of reading about BDSM. There are a lot of good negotiating ideas around in books and on the net, and there is always more to learn on this subject.


Melissa.
Email Address omitted by request.

Q: Dear Lauren,

It will definitely take time for our relationship to heal. I spend every free moment I have with him asking him (drilling him) to tell me everything, wanting to make sure that there is no deep hidden secret or fantasy in him that I do not know about. He is honest (I think). Nonetheless, I continue to ask the same questions of him. I will need time to deal with my insecurities--that I have not been a good lover, that I have ignored particular cues, that I do not turn him on. I will also need to accept that what has happened happened--sadly. You helped me to further sort out what the real problems were--communication and trust. Every evening after talking, communicating, crying, explosively yelling, etc. we end up sharing fantasies with each other--mixed together with him explaining many of his past fantasies and ways he has satisfied his need for bondage. It is at times very painful, but I hope over time I can work through this and learn to trust him again.


nflauren
Email Address: nflauren@submission.net.

A: Hi, Melissa.

Thanks for responding. And I am glad it helped a little. It sounds like you and your husband also might do well with a good, articulate therapist, perhaps just to be the person to phrase the questions and keep the two of you focused. There are good, BDSM-friendly therapists around, and if you find the right one they don't try to effect "changes" or "cures," but just serve as rational, objective outsiders trying to facilitate even better communication than you and your husband already have.

MORE INFO:
List of Kink-Aware
Professionals
And don't forget: BDSM has not been defined as an illness or problem by the psychology profession for several years now, so if you hit a therapist who so much as acts like it has to be, look around for a new one. :) Last thing you'd want would be someone telling your husband he is a bad guy for finally coming out and expressing these hidden desires, when what you and he really need is greater freedom in expressing yourselves. :)

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