About a year ago, I started dating men after 10 years of only being with my wife. It’s been mostly-wonderful and very instructive so far, but my first couple of mini-relationships with guys have me asking a lot of questions about my relationship with my body and with the (mysterious and yet not-so-mysterious) male gender.
I love books where the author spends him-or herself on a year’s adventure and then writes about it so see what he or she learned, so that’s what I’m doing. My mission is to find my inner Bettie Page—I couldn’t hope to look like her, but I do hope to access come of the joy and confidence that I see in her face, whether she is clothed or naked, romping in the woods or tied up and being spanked. This is that kind of story.
The best way to start would be to paste in these two entries that I originally wrote on my Fet Life page. Things have gotten a lot better from there, I promise.
List for my First Quasi Sub-Dom Thing
- He wasn’t doing it right and neither was I. I pretty quickly lost the ability to say which things bothered me, which things I didn’t want to be part of the game.
- I learned that I am submissive but not a masochist. I like to be held down, restrained, but I only like pain inasmuch as it is part of rough-and-tumble fun, and I don’t like intentional emotional pain or humiliation outside the context of play.
- There are names that I like to be called, in context. I still get weak in the knees when I think of him gruffly saying “Ah, come for me, ya little brat.” I liked being called any number of nasty names, but when it became clear that he actually SAW me as those things, I couldn’t really go any further. (Okay, I went a little further, but I did know that that was where it needed to end.)
- Even though my trust in him turned out to have been misspent, I am proud of how far I’ve come when it comes to trust. There are things I have feared with men for so long—roughness, being pinned down and unable to move, being too aggressive myself, having a hand over my mouth, having sex with a guy I adored…he took me past all of those fears. I am really grateful.
- It was Christmastime, and so I gave him some pretty Christmassy ribbons to tie me up with. It was too early to be giving presents, but I am what I am. He never got to use the ribbons. At a certain point, all he could do was figure out what I really wanted and withhold it. That’s not fun.
- I get feelings for people. I was really attached to this guy even though I know I wasn’t supposed to be getting all emo with him, so when Someday, You will Be Loved by Death Cab for Cutie shuffled on, I was going to get up and change it, but he wouldn’t let me. I struggled to get up but he held me there, pinned and trapped, kissing and wrestling and fighting to be free. I’m sure he didn’t mean it to be as poetic as it was, but I felt like the song was some kind of cosmic message: “And the memories of me will seem more like bad dreams, just a series of blurs, like I never occurred, someday, you will be loved.”
- I liked the bruises at first. They’re bite marks, and when there were just a few little ones, I felt kind of precious about them, like they made me his. But they got a little out of control, until my whole left shoulder and upper arm were black and blue. I started having to wear long sleeves. I worried what other lovers would think of me.
- I’m sure this was unintentional, but the evening after we first went to third base, I posted a makeout song on my blog, and he posted a series of vintage VD posters on his. I started to feel like I was diseased.
- I loved when he called parts of me his: “This is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine…” but I don’t think that he really understood that I WAS his, even though I have a wife and another sweetie, that my heart can really belong to however many people. Maybe he didn’t think about it that much, or care, but I was his, scary as that turned out to be.
- By the end, I couldn’t stand myself. I couldn’t remember who I was or how to make myself happy. I was crying almost every day and feeling ugly and full of shame. That was never what I was after. I wanted a game between equals, but I think his fantasy was different, in fact, I knew that it was, and I should have asked. I wanted a safe place to act out my darker parts, a true friendship with someone whose deviations matched mine. He wanted, as he finally came out and said, a “fuck doll.”
- So I have to find out some way to submit without losing my voice, to find a person who will pull hair and bite and call names and wrestle, but who will also treat me like a human being. That is a lot to ask for, especially since I also would like him to be poly and tall and big and obsessed with music. I am glad that I let him go, if only so that I’ll have my heart ready for my really and truly trustworthy top.
Love in a Time of Erectile Dysfunction
All of my adult life, I’ve been afraid of men. Because they could hurt me, sure, but mostly because I’ve always felt at their mercy, desperate for their attention, angry and resentful that they had something I needed. But it is, they are, something I need. So when I recently returned to men after more than a decade, I was determined to confront and master these fears. I sort of regret that the fears took the form of a person, not because of what happened, but because I would’ve liked to have known who he was outside of the role I/we created for him.
I need someone to push me past my fears, and push he did. His phone’s wallpaper was Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles, and that’s how I saw him. Before our first date, I drew a tarot card, and got the Devil card reversed: “Release from bondage, throwing off shackles…the first step towards enlightenment.” I told him about the card and he said, “Oh, like a catalyst.”
I wanted someone I couldn’t control, and that is what I got. He was intractable and unreadable and definitely incorrigible. At every turn, he pushed me further than I would’ve thought to go. He called me names I’d always been afraid of, and it was always a relief. One day at work we were watching “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron,” about a horse that couldn’t be broken; I blushed because the lines all kept reminding me of him.
After a little while, I started to feel uncomfortable with the way things were going. When I first started dating men again, I’d begun to see myself as hot in a way I never had before, but that eroded. He kept breaking dates to go places and only wanted to see me if nakedness was involved, emailed me songs that implied I was fat, old, worn out. He called me “Dummy” and I’d happily agree that he turned my brain into a test pattern, but of course that didn’t sit right. I didn’t complain because I didn’t want to control him, and also because I didn’t want him to get frustrated and go away.
And I still wanted to know what rough sex felt like. I have been having sweet, wonderful adorable sex for all of these years and I can’t complain too much about that, but I’ve always wanted to be taken, it’s both my worse fear and my strongest fantasy. Since he generally seemed to want me so much that I sometimes thought he might eat me, he seemed like the guy for that. So even though things weren’t sitting right with me, I wanted to keep him around for at least until that happened. Well, I really wanted to keep him around forever and ever, but I think I knew that wasn’t possible.
The day that it was supposed to happen was a revelation I didn’t expect. I expected the angry-hot guy who’d so expertly and emphatically ripped off my jeans on the third date, the one who sometimes pounded my arms down onto the couch when I tried to hold him. I expected to feel the way I’d asked to feel, like I had no choice, but instead he was tentative. His façade dropped. He still made plays at ordering me around, but he became self-conscious in a way that I took for tenderness. The guy who’d grabbed and shoved and hair-pulled his way through bases one to three was gone and here was this…friend of mine.
It was hard to find a place to be since we could only ever get together at my apartment and Amy has a strict (and very reasonable) no-boys-in-the-bed-policy, we had the choice of either the couch or the floor. He pulled me on top of him on the couch and I pouted a little but climbed on and gave it a go. He wilted soon after I started. I sat on the floor beside the couch and tried for some combination of soothing but not emasculating.
Next we tried the floor—I spread out a Care Bears blanket and down we went. After an awkward moment of “Is it in?” in it went and it felt great, but he lost his erection again after a few minutes. He climbed off and lay beside me, apologetic, and I have to say that’s the moment when I knew I loved him. He was clearly mortified and frustrated, but I couldn’t resist petting his hair and telling him what I believed in that moment, which was that he was perfect. He wasn’t any of my fears or the scary guy he tried to be, he was just a boy trying to do a good job for me. He lay there claiming my body as he liked to do, talked dirty and told me to come until I did.
I was so happy that day because it really felt like we meant something to each other, like we truly were friends. He told me he’d find room for me in his life even when another woman comes along, which is kind of what a poly girl hopes to hear from a single, not-poly guy. We snuggled and played and kissed and watched a whole bunch of Party Down episodes, and I was happy.
His interpretation of events was different from mine, and he was gone from my life by the following week. I’m not sure that I can see him as a remover of obstacles, since the experience brings up more questions than it answers. But I am trying to take the lesson of that day to heart—I am not at the mercy of men. We are all at the mercy of each other, and beneath even the snarliest of us there is a sweet vulnerable human being just trying to do his best. I can’t take back the role I placed him in or the way things turned out, but I can learn to open myself up a little more to men. I can admit that I love him and hopefully find a way to let him go. The song I most associate with him is “Close to Me” by The Cure, and the thing I most want to remember is that aside from all the fetishes, fantasies and fears, closeness is my dearest wish, the thing I truly hope to find again.