Imagine if I were to ask if anybody else out there has a kink of “playing poly.” When asked to explain what I mean by “playing at poly,” I described it as “you know, like when you pretend to sleep with everyone indiscriminately and not give a shit about what your partners think.”
Visits to the dungeon are rare these days.
I like them. The public aspect of playing in a dungeon pushes me to endure just a little bit more than I tend to at home. People are watching, after all…
And that’s how my exhibitionism works.
I got to play last night.
Thank goodness I didn’t find out until this morning that someone entered our room during our scene. My partner ushered him out without me being the wiser.
I got to play last night.
But at one point, while trying desperately to hold on to the edge of an orgasm, I growled “Please tell the people in the hallway to shut the fuck up.”
I got to play last night.
But I couldn’t wait to get home. Being in public certainly pushes me.
…But public play when the others in attendance aren’t well-versed in dungeon etiquette is pushing all the wrong buttons.
I want to find a Daddy.
I want to find a Mistress.
I just want to find single, sexy, bisexual unicorn to date my spouse and me.
I want to find a job.
Okay, only that last one was me. Up until yesterday, that’s what I was saying. I want to find a job. But, up until yesterday, I’d only applied to one with a position description similar to what I do now, and I’d not done any followup to determine if my candidacy was being considered.
Then somebody in a relationship advice forum posed a question. She said that even though she identified as polyamorous, and even though her prior marriage(s) had failed spectacularly, she still sometimes felt like she’d rather do the monogamous, marriage, white picket fence thing but without feeling trapped. She wanted to know if others struggled with similar contradictions.
Plenty of people pointed out that being married and poly was not an inherent contradiction. But, as I responded to her, I kind of came to a little epiphany. Here’s what I said to her:
I think what might be going on is that you’ve been sold a bill of goods of what “marriage” is supposed to be and your marriage didn’t look like that. You’re longing for the bliss of fitting into the pattern that society’s PR campaign has laid out for us.
We’ve been sold on the idea that marriage equals love, equals security, equals happily ever after and romantic shmoopiewibbles. Marriage means that that you’re both on a team and nothing can tear you apart. But life happens and ruts happen and stress happens and shit. just. happens.
It seems really anti-romantic to say that marriage is a financial arrangement; but the most romantic way to view marriage (in my book) is as a financial arrangement. The idea that whether or not we have government-sanctioned love, the love is real makes the marriage part irrelevant.
When I married my husband I knew that I never would have left him if we hadn’t. Our marriage did not change anything in our relationship except…financially. It made things a lot simpler when he passed away unexpectedly to deal with our mutual assets.
Well, and also…the sex stopped. But that wasn’t because we were married. That was illness.
I guess what I’m saying is that when you’re longing for the marriage, then the marriage is the destination. But when you’re focused on your relationship, then the marriage may just be part of the journey.
The epiphany happened after that. When I thought about another commonly pointed out difference I’ve noticed in ways people “do poly.” Some people seem to always be looking for someone new, or they have a very specific slot to fill in their lives that they struggle to find the right fit for. Others are just open to making connections with people that may fit into their lives in unexpected ways.
I started my career in nonprofit by accident. I was placed in a nonprofit by a temp agency when my entire career goal was “don’t end up working for my parents.”
But I loved it. I felt like my work mattered – even though i was just a receptionist. Now, I’m in a rut. Top of my department, but there is no more upward mobility. My organization fears change to the point where I cannot gain the type of experience I need to make my next move. My career is in stagnant water and the mosquitoes are everywhere.
My employment is nothing but a financial arrangement. There’s no love there anymore. It’s a marriage gone sour.
Yesterday I said I wanted to “find” a job, but I’d not put much effort into doing so. Today, I want to be more precise. Today, I’m saying I want to find a position that again lets me feel that what I do matters, and where my time and talent are appreciated. I want to feel motivated and excited by my work. I want to be the right candidate for them, yes – but I also want them to be the right fit for me.
I want to grow.
In order for that to happen, I have to take my own advice, and open myself up to unexpected possibilities.
I’m certain I was yammering as we walked through the door. There was a plan: to drink, to cook, to eat, and to fuck.
I had assumed in that order, and therefore, was not expecting to be held by the hair and drag/pushed into the living room. That was certainly a surprise.
But when he pulled the pillows off the sofa and dropped them to the floor before me, I had an inkling.
And when he pulled his phone out and fiddled with it after ordering me to masturbate, I had another inkling.
Some time after the orgasm, after he’d given me a taste of him, after he’d told me to get dressed and make him a drink, he’d nonchalantly told me that it’d taken me 93 seconds to orgasm.
“Because you were watching me,” I explained.
Manual override on my own could take an hour. Any sort of stimulation when he’s watching me takes significantly less time.
Dinner was decent.
It was during the fucking when I was asked how long it took me to orgasm earlier.
I don’t know how the fuck I remembered the number.
But I did. “Ninety three seconds, Sir.”
He started to smack me. Slowly, then quickly, altering speed and intensity.
And then he stopped.
“How many is that?”
Well. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the pillows and I’d had some sort of nonverbal cue. Or maybe it’s something I always do, the counting.
I could hear him smile. I felt the swell of my own pride in getting it right.
Here’s what he doesn’t know. I think I lost count somewhere after the next 20. I dropped into some altered state for a moment and when I came back….I could have sworn we were at 83, not 93.
But those last five smacks were double handed and hit hard.
Maybe they counted for two.
I like warm water.
One of my favorite feelings in the world is to be submerged in or have very warm water cascading down my skin.
He knows this. I noticed that he knew this a few weeks ago during a shower together. The memory of what it was he did is fuzzy now, I just remember realizing that he’d figured out how much I like it.
The trouble with dating this sadist is that when he learns I really like something, he has gained a new tool with which he can torment me.
And when I say “trouble,” it’s with a smile.
So, yesterday morning, we were heading over to shower and I hesitated to step in, realizing it’d not yet been on long enough to be hot.
He checked the temperature with his hand and I asked, “It’s not hot yet, is it?”
His sadist face came on.
I stammered and resisted. He grabbed hold of my wrist and pulled me toward the shower door. I watched as he pushed the handle away from “hot” to “cold” and held me there.
There’s this moment where I’m faced with something I don’t want to do and the option to not do it is taken away from me. I recall, as a child, standing at the edge of the diving board when I was still dry and I knew the pool would be cold. I feared the initial shock of the cold water. Yet, I knew after a few minutes acclimate I would to the temperature and it would be a welcome contrast to the hot summer day.
Eventually, I convinced myself that all I had to do was jump. Once I was in the air, the decision to land in the water was out of my hands. I found that the lack of control mid-air made me feel less anxious about what I’d face when I hit the water.
It’s that same moment, when my brain switches from “I don’t want to go in the cold shower,” to “He’s going to make me go in the cold shower,” that brings up a similar sense of tranquility.
And then he pushed me in.
The water was warm.
This is what I love about a sweetheart sadist. He knows I love warm water. He also knows I love it when he pushes me toward the things I resist (plus, he loves the pushing). Yesterday morning, he found a way to give me both.
When I started thinking about writing this post, I had strong feelings that I would not mind connecting with another person as a regular (non-sexual) rope-specific play partner.
And now, I finally have a few moments to write it and….
The notion doesn’t seem so shiny.
It’s an inconclusive state – do I want this, or don’t I?
And I think that the answer is that on some level, I do – but what’s lacking is the sense that the type of person I’d want to do that with is someone already known to me. So, without having someone in mind specifically, it’s hard to really imagine how it would work.
Type of person – that’s not exactly right. The person doesn’t meet a type – it’s the supposed connection we’d have that is a type.
But, allow me for a moment to process a couple finer points on this desire. Words like “benefit” and “exploration” and “free time” come up. Like, “I believe I could benefit from the exploration of a connection with another rope top during my free time on weekends.”
There are things about that statement that bother me.
I don’t want to use a person as a distraction. To connect with someone on the level that I like to connect in rope, they have to be more to me than “something to do on Saturday night.” This type of connection I’m envisioning would be one of friendship, trust, and mutual enjoyment that goes beyond “I don’t have anything better to do tonight, wanna tie??” The idea that this relationship would “benefit” me feels selfish. A vibrator benefits me because it gives me orgasms when my partner is unable to give them to me. I do not want the “vibrator” equivalence of a person to just give me what I want when my partner isn’t around. I don’t like the idea of treating people like tools.
And yet –
I wouldn’t (probably) mind more rope in my life, but I come back to that question of connection.
After I fell in love, my connection with the other people who used to tie me on occasion changed. I became strikingly aware of the difference between the connection with someone who actively wanted to tie me – who would reach out days or even a week in advance to ask if I’d be interested in a rope date; and the connection with those who would show up at the same party I happened to be attending and think “Hey, I’ve got a spare hour. You’ll do.”
That’s not really what I think they were thinking, but …that’s how it felt.
So I shifted a little – to avoid feeling that. I set a “new rule” that I would avoid last minute/pickup play scenes. That if someone wanted to tie me, they’d ask in advance.
And …well, those proposals were few and far between. Until they were so rare and sometimes felt like “Yeah, couldn’t find anybody else. Is your body available?”
It still felt like it lacked connection.
This is no judgement on anybody I’ve played with past or present, or those who do pickup play or have asked me recently if I could bottom for them. In fact, both people who have asked me recently – I’d have said yes if I legitimately didn’t have other things going on those evenings.
Bottoming for demo or practice isn’t the same as a play partner.
A play partner (to me) is something more. It’s a friendship that exists outside the confines of rope. It means meals together or movies and laughter and conversation that has nothing to do with rope . It’s connectivity on multiple levels. There’s a level of care, consideration, and enjoyment of time spent together.
There’s a tenderness to it. There has to be, because I like mean rope – so there has to be tenderness on the other side of that.
It’s a relationship.
Minus the sex.
You know, like marriage.
See, the right type of person – the right type of connection – would have laughed at that joke.
Anyway, this isn’t a statement of intention to go out in search of this connection. This is a public declaration of my motives for considering it. Much like my state of being prior to meeting the man I now love – I am in a good place in my life where not much is needed.
But if someone who happens to connect well with me were to come into my life and have an interest in pursuing this….I’d probably, carefully and slowly, give it a chance.
Rope and Photo by @mister_bacon_, my first ropey play partner. 🙂
“Bear down on it,” he ordered. I was naked and collared, on my hands and knees at the foot of the four-poster bed, around the leg of which he’d used a thigh harness to strap a large, purple phallus at the exact height required for my impalement.
Just kidding. I’m not telling that story yet. I have things I want to say, but the people I want to share these thoughts with are the ones would only get this far into my essay hoping for more of that story.
I’m talking about the people who put up walls and tune out when certain words are uttered. They respond to words like “privilege” and “patriarchy” like I do to words like “prayer” and “God.”
Those are words that make me uncomfortable. They’re the words that expose the bias I have against all organized religion and religious people that’s similar to the bias our current administration has against people who are Muslim or brown in general.
Religious people frighten me because of the atrocious things done in the name of religion throughout humanity’s history. But, I remind myself that #notall religious people are power-hungry, hypocritical, selfish, and hate-filled people. That’s what separates me from this administration and its followers: I wouldn’t kick all religious people out of my country – but I admit that I sometimes fantasize about what this world might be like if nobody had ever invented religion.
So, here I want to share my thoughts on so many of the subjects that would include words like “privilege” and “patriarchy” and “equality” and “marginalized” and “personal agency” and “women,” and I know that the people I want to reach have already bailed.
They don’t want to be made to feel guilty.
But that’s the thing. I’ve found in my own life that digging in at the things that inspire icky feelings like guilt or resentment has been the first step in my moving past those feelings. Similar to how it works in the final stage of mourning, it’s acceptance. Those of us who cling to the #NotAll when we’re feeling lumped in with a group that does bad things need to lean into the discomfort of being seen as #OneOf and make a conscious choice to listen to those who have been affected.
That’s it. Just listen. Don’t argue. Don’t #NotAll. Just hear out the people whose words bring up those yucky feelings and try to empathize. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask the question – respectfully. And if they don’t want to answer it?
Then keep making an effort to listen. Go in search of the answers by others who have already shared their truths with the world. All the answers are out there.
Eventually you might discover that there have been some instances in which you didn’t do all you could to help their cause because it was easier for you not to, and that the only person that’s making you feel guilty is you.
All guilt ever did for me was two things: 1) make me feel resentful, and 2) make me react defensively.
But after I decided to confront that discomfort and take ownership over my part in these things, the guilty feelings started to erode. You don’t have to take the blame for the continued existence of all the isms and the phobias: just recognize the areas where you have inherited an advantage and accepted it without question. Once you do that, you might find yourself able to let go of the guilt and start taking action to help our shared society move past this.
Listen – not everyone’s gonna welcome you as an ally. You just have to do your best to be the best version of a human being you can be. But don’t cut corners – if you are able to tune out the injustices of the world, that’s evidence of your privilege. If you choose to tune it out, then that’s when you are part of the problem.
This from someone who tuned it all out in the wake of her husband’s unexpected death because she couldn’t handle negative information. I recognized my privilege. I know why I did it. I would counsel someone struggling with that degree of trauma to do the same.
But not everybody can. There are people whose lives and livelihoods are constantly under siege and have been for a long, long time. They don’t have the privilege of tuning out injustice, because it is part of their daily lives.
So I won’t tune it out. Not anymore. Not because I feel guilty, but because I feel it’s right.
That’s not the same as disconnecting for a night and focusing on the things that bring me joy for a few hours. That’s self-care. Deciding that I’m just not going to think about, talk about, or pay attention to politics at all, or go pretend I’m still ignorant of the issues facing marginalized groups? That’s tuning it out.
The people who have read this far already grasp this. As soon as this post was not about the time I was ordered on all fours to be fucked from behind by my bedpost while my lover knelt before me and jackhammered his lust into my hungry and willing mouth, the ones I wanted to reach had already tuned out.
But those of you who stuck it out this far, at least get to know how that story ended 🙂