Assumptions and Expectations

It’s always been a struggle for me to talk to my partners — or anyone — about
sex. In part, I know that’s because my earliest lessons on sex were awkward and uncomfortable, and were more concerned with “don’t” than anything else. But it’s also because of my specific desires around D/s and sado-masochism, and my intial experiences in exploring those desires.

I confessed to my ex-boyfriend, some four or five years ago, that I thought I was a submissive, and that I wanted to explore more of that in our sex life. I bought a book on rope bondage, and some cheap handcuffs, and nervously prodded him into using them on me. He did everything you’re supposed to do, in such a situation: he didn’t judge me, was enthusiastic about trying new things, and, in fact, never denied any of my requests. (Of course, at the time, there weren’t very many; I didn’t really know what I wanted, yet.)

But it never really did anything for me, because — whether or not this is true — I could never be convinced that he really wanted to be doing it, that it wasn’t just him being a good boyfriend and indulging my fetishes. Personally, I only can be turned on by any act of BDSM if I believe that the person doing it to me is doing it for their own pleasure, not just for mine. But I know now that while I may have been correct in my assumptions, there’s probably nothing he could have done to convince me that he really got off on dominating and controlling me: I couldn’t accept that I actually wanted a partner who would not only fulfil my own horrible perverted fantasies, but was sick enough to be turned on by it himself, as well. I handled it terribly. I would insist that he wasn’t doing it right, that I didn’t feel like he was in control; it wasn’t good for me unless he really wanted it, I would say. He would insist that he was into it — and I still wouldn’t believe him. All of that, of course, is incredibly painful to hear from your partner. It’s not something I look back on with a great deal of pride.

The point of all of this is to say that I have something of a history of (a) not feeling comfortable with my own sexuality and kinks, and (b) not trusting that my sexual partner is actually interested in the sort of sex and the sort of relationship I desire.

It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to me, then, that the conversations my current partner and I have had about my desire to be owned, to wear his bracelet, have been extremely difficult and emotional. But it’s caught me off guard, a little, just how terrified I am that his agreeing to the bracelet, and to pretty much anything new that I suggest, is him just…being agreeable. Just doing what will make me happy. And that, of course, would mean that he doesn’t really understand what any of this actually means to me.

I should know by now that it does. All of it. His dominance and sadism run as deep as my submission and masochism, and he’s never given me any reason to think otherwise. But I finally realized, last night, that most of this perceived inequality in our interest stems from the fact that we approach our D/s in very different ways.

When I’m curious about something, my first instinct is to research it, and then write about it (whether publicly or privately). I’ve sometimes gone so far as to make phone calls to corporate headquarters or file information requests with the police to get information not for a story I’m writing, but just for something I want to know. So naturally, when I began to explore BDSM, my inclination was to learn as much as I could, through books, blogs, websites, and classes and community groups, and to process all of it through thinking about it, talking, and writing.

When he has something he’s curious about and wants to explore, he simply goes out and does it. With BDSM, he feels that books haven’t really helped him learn anything about how to construct a scene or how to play safely; that’s only come through direct experience with me, with cautious trial-and-error, with communication about what works and what doesn’t. And that hasn’t really been much of an issue thus far, because we haven’t really done much that put me at risk, physically or emotionally. (We both agree that for more “at-risk” stuff we’re interested in, like knife play, some classes are in order before we start experimenting.)

But I realize now that I’ve been disappointed in him for not coming at this in the same way that I do; I’ve been disappointed that he doesn’t write about all of this, doesn’t comment here, doesn’t read any BDSM nonfiction, doesn’t initiate taking classes with me. And that’s just holding him up to an absurd and unrealistic expectation. There’s no reason why he should have to approach BDSM in the same way that I do. It doesn’t make him any less interested in sex with me because he doesn’t blog about it afterward; it doesn’t make him any less concerned with my safety because he’s never read any “beginners guides” to S/M.

The other major difference between us is that while I feel a need to spend a lot of time thinking about what all of this means, and still worry about whether or not my desires are “okay,” he’s more concerned with whether or not something feels good and right, not whether he’s thought about it a lot first. “I don’t want to own you just because we’ve discussed it and decided on it,” he said to me last night, “I want to own you because you belong to me. I want you to be mine because that’s what your heart desires.”

In the end, simply, it is what my heart desires. And I need to trust that it’s in his heart, too.

6 comments so far

  1. maymay on

    I loved this post. Not only for its obvious candor and its quality of writing, but because it is so, unbelievably relevant to me right now.

    In short, thank you. Just thank you.

  2. Tom Allen on

    I couldn’t accept that I actually wanted a partner who would not only fulfil my own horrible perverted fantasies, but was sick enough to be turned on by it himself, as well.

    I’ve been living with this exact same feeling for the last 20 or 25 years. It’s hell, at times. It has taken me a very long time to get into a place where I can even co-exist with my perceptions of myself, let alone accept or embrace them.

  3. devastatingyet on

    This is relevant to my life too. You remind me of my boyfriend in some ways.

  4. subversive_sub on

    Thanks, everyone — nice to hear that this seems to be a pretty normal thing to be going through…

  5. Jgirl on

    This was great. I feel exactly the same way, but im in a commited relationship where I feel my partner is jsut being “agreeable” and it does nothing for me.

    Thanks for this! I know exactly how you feel!

    Much Love-


  6. blue on

    This may be one of those near-universal feelings… I wrote a bit in agreement when I read Dev’s post on submissive insecurities, and it’s always comforting to see other people experiencing similar things…

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