How to manage feelings in BDSM/casual sex relaionships?
October 4, 2009 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Your tips on figuring out my feelings as I enter into casual play relationships? (risque elaboration within)

Sooooo I am a newbie to BDSM and casual play/sex and while I've had a small handful of good experiences so far, I'm a little worried of my own green-eyed monster rearing its head. Main reason I ask: I met someone recently who I enjoy play/sex with, and since he is unattached and very affectionate towards me (and I find him very attractive) I'm starting to get date-y feelings toward him. He compliments me in a date-y way, too, i've spent the night, and he has once (on our 2nd of 2 play dates) suggested we hang out in a non-play setting too, but I'm not sure what to make of this or if I'm reading into it. I'm afraid to bring up any deeper discussion because I feel... uptight? demanding? like I'll freak him out by being not-casual? if I do.

This is all especially confusing because, while 3somes are something I'd like to try, I now am getting antsy and mixed-up emotionally when he brings up looking for new play partners for us. And I'm feeling tinges of jealousy knowing he's looking for new play partners for himself. How does one manage this sort of transition and dealing with jealousy? Any suggested tips? Suggested reads? Throwaway email: If it matters, I am female, 30, unmarried (and not very marriage-minded normally.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This book might help.
posted by dacoit at 5:31 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you are at the beginning of getting hurt. Or put it another way, you are beginning to get emotionally involved.

I suggest having a frank talk with him on how you feel. Either break it off now, or try to bring your relationship to the next level together, i.e., being exclusive.

Good luck!
posted by jchaw at 5:33 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some people can only indulge in BDSM "play" if it is kept compartmentalized, away from the rest of their lives, so that they can open up and be vulnerable--and then go on their way.

Others can only open up and allow themselves to be vulnerable when they have an established, trust-filled relationship first.

And then there there's a third group that seems to have no need for boundaries at all.

What's happening here is that you are in the first group, and now your play partner, who is firmly in the third camp, is changing the parameters on you. For your partner it's no big deal, but you know yourself well enough (and good for you!) to realize that, for you, it's more complicated than that. For you to move on with this person, you need to establish that trust.

And there's nothing wrong with that! Best thing to do is to talk this over frankly with your play partner, as jchaw says. If he is more experienced than you with BDSM, he should have no problem either slowing things down or adjusting the boundaries the two of you have set up so far.
posted by misha at 6:18 PM on October 4, 2009

Keep in mind that jealousy isn't an emotion; it's an amalgamation of sadness, anger, longing, insecurity, etc.

Ask yourself what you're afraid of losing.
posted by opossumnus at 7:05 PM on October 4, 2009 [9 favorites]

You're worried about not fitting into a pre-conceived notion of the casual sex BDSMer. However, you are you, and will never fit into that mold. So part of this is to do what you enjoy, yes? Follow your bliss, even if your bliss wants to go on a dinner date at a chain restaurant that has a punny menu.
posted by kathrineg at 7:06 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Ethical Slut, because right now you are in casual-sex land but it looks like you're headed to polyamory. Welcome :)
posted by kathrineg at 7:08 PM on October 4, 2009

While casual play/sex and polyamory are more common than not in the lifestyle, there are plenty of individuals who are monogamous, or who only play/have sex with certain people. So don't feel out of place if you think the poly thing isn't for you.

The most important thing is communication. Communicate your desires and your limits with your partner. You say you're new to this, so I assume you still aren't certain what those desires and limits are. That's okay! Just give yourself time to feel things out, and go slow. It helps to have a partner that is patient and experienced when you're starting out, because it may take some time for you to really figure out what you're looking for.

Another thing you may want to keep in mind: there is a spectrum between people who are interested in the emotional/psychological aspects of power exchance (D/s) and those who are mainly interested in the physical and sexual aspects. If you find yourself drifting more towards the D/s side of things, you're going to have a harder time staying satisfied with just casual play. While D/s doesn't require monogamy to work, it does require significant amounts of intimacy, trust, and commitment.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:19 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that jealousy isn't an emotion; it's an amalgamation of sadness, anger, longing, insecurity, etc.

What? There is no definitive "list" of emotions out there.
posted by delmoi at 8:30 PM on October 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

While casual play/sex and polyamory are more common than not in the lifestyle, there are plenty of individuals who are monogamous, or who only play/have sex with certain people.

Yep. When I read your question, I thought "what does this have to do with BDSM?" Answer: nothing. Plenty of people feel that way with vanilla fuckbuddies. It also has nothing to do with being submissive; I am dominant and have felt the same way about people in my past (incidentally, I'm in a monogamous marriage now).

There were people I could "just play" with and people I couldn't, because the feelings would run too deep. I had to learn - sometimes painfully - which was which, and end the latter before I got too hurt. Maybe you're not wired for non-monogamy. Maybe you're not wired for non-monogamy with this particular guy. There is nothing wrong with that, and if you don't honor your feelings, you're probably going to get hurt. This guy's needs and desires may not match your own, and they do not take precedence over your own.
posted by desjardins at 11:17 AM on October 5, 2009

You need to talk to him about this, not us. One of the main misconceptions about D/S play is the polite fiction that it can be so compartmentalised. While it's true that it's easy to keep the actual play in the bedroom (dungeon, wherever), anything outside of that will affect it and vice versa. Reading between the lines, I'm guessing you're more on the sub side of things. And while trust is a two-way street, I tend to think that subs need to trust more than doms do. And the trust and intimacy needed for satisfying D/S play means that you need to be open and honest with each other, and not just about the sex.

Go talk to him and tell him how you're feeling. A D/S arrangement is a relationship just like any other, and requires the same kind of honesty and emotional investment that a vanilla dating relationship does. Feel free to email me (in my profile) if you want to go into greater detail.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:49 AM on October 5, 2009

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