Hurt me baby... no, not you...
March 8, 2008 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I have recently had the best sex of my life, and I finally know what it is that turns me on - pain. The problem is that this sex was not with my partner of ten years (well, she was there...). I don't know what to do about this. In-depth details inside.

I've been with my partner (B) for nearly a decade and, although we are deeply devoted to each other, our sex life has been sporadic at best. B and I, both women, were each other's very first sexual partners. I have always had an idea that I would like mild to moderate s/m but this doesn't turn B on in the least, and she is somewhat uncomfortable with it. Last week, B and I got drunk with a friend (M), who is male, and had a threesome. M, as it turns out, is an experienced and skilled top, and I had the best multiple orgasms of my life. I can't stop thinking about it, and I get butterflies whenever I see my bruises. Going back to sex with my spouse is unsatisfying, at best.

So, this is my problem: I feel like I have finally had the scales fall from my eyes. After a lifetime of vanilla I have finally tasted rocky road and realize that it's what I've been craving all this time. I realize how sexually incompatible my partner and I are. We have sex once or twice a month, and it is rarely exciting.

I know that I'm not realizing I'm straight or anything like that, we have had a threesome or two before and they have always been disappointing. I want to be hurt, and B can't do that to me. It's just not in her. I love her so deeply, she is the center of my world, but she just doesn't do it for me sexually (and, to be fair, I haven't been doing it for her lately either, although she has yet to figure out what it is that she likes).

Can a relationship survive if the partners are sexually incompatible? If the occasional fling with a top will keep me satisfied, is it going to wreck us? Can a total and complete non-top be taught to act like a top? How can a completely inexperienced bottom teach that? Can a person be happy with vanilla after having tasted rocky road?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

either you dump B and find a top guy/girl or you tell B you are not being satisfied and want permission to keep seeing the male you describe. Both are going to be serious things. But, the discussion can't really go any further until you stop being a coward and start admitting that you won't be satisfied until your needs are met.
posted by parmanparman at 6:38 AM on March 8, 2008

First of all, congratulations on snagging that email address - I would have thought it was long since taken. And since it's clear that you read Savage Love, let me tell you what I think he would tell you:

Talk to your partner.

If she was paying attention at all, she probably already knows that you had insanely great multiple orgasms, noticed that they were fundamentally different from the orgasms you (don't?) have during your infrequent lovemaking, and is probably already stewing over the ramifications of this herself.

You don't have to say "I think our relationship is doomed because we're sexually incompatible." You can say "I know what I want, and I'm not getting it from the sex we have. I love you so deeply, and you are the center of my world. It's important to me that you try to fulfill some of these desires. Likewise, I know that I don't always excite you or please you sexually, and I want to explore that with you, so that we can change it together."

I haven't been with her for ten years, so I strongly suggest you use your own shared language in what will undoubtedly be a difficult conversation. But I think that without that conversation, then your relationship is doomed.

Can a relationship survive if the partners are sexually incompatible?
Usually not, no.

If the occasional fling with a top will keep me satisfied, is it going to wreck us?

Can a total and complete non-top be taught to act like a top? How can a completely inexperienced bottom teach that?
The same way couples having reached sexual compatibility for generations - trial and error and love and compassion.

Can a person be happy with vanilla after having tasted rocky road?
Mm, probably not.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

If your partner was there, she undoubtedly saw how much you got off. Talking about this should be pretty easy -- tell her you while you do want more pain, you still want her love. Let her know all the things about your relationship that you value: the friendship, the trust, the caring, the good moments and the bad moments, the warmth of a shared bed. And ask if she's okay with you continuing to seek other partners for mindblowing sex. Find out what her limits are -- maybe she wants to watch, or to help pick partners, or to say "this guy, but not that one" or maybe she doesn't want to hear about it. And try these limits out and see if they work for you. And if they don't, and if you can't resolve it... it's time to move on with all the tears that implies.

Be honest in your words to your partner, and be honest about your needs to yourself.

Good luck to you, your partner, and your newfound pleasure.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2008

While sondrialiac suggests that people can learn to become good tops over time, I'm not sure that's always the case. To some, causing someone pain -- no matter how much it's welcomed -- is wayyy outside their comfort zone and always will be. That said, I suppose there are people that can overcome it.

The real question on that, though, is do you want her to be your top? I was with someone for years that was a very skilled top and I was very, very happy. We are no longer together (for reasons that have nothing to do with that aspect of our lives) and, though my current SO has expressed a "willingness to learn" how to please me the same way, it's just not in our cards. I just don't see him that way. If you don't see and feel your partner as a top now, you may never. There's nothing wrong with that and doesn't diminish your partner in any way.

Can a relationship survive if the partners are sexually incompatible? IMO, that depends on how important sex is to each party.

If the occasional fling with a top will keep me satisfied, is it going to wreck us? Only you two can answer that. Consider talking to a professional dom/domme who can provide the pain while your partner provides the orgasms.

Can a total and complete non-top be taught to act like a top? Yes, by other good tops. (There is a LOT to learn and know to get it right.)

How can a completely inexperienced bottom teach that? I suppose it can be done, but I'd advise against it. Experimenting with light bondage and light pain is is safe, but major harm can some from mishandled clamps and bullwhips.

Can a person be happy with vanilla after having tasted rocky road? I am.

+1 on talking to your partner.
posted by actuallyiam at 8:33 AM on March 8, 2008

"B and I got drunk...and had a threesome."

Oh, and I meant to say: No doubt you had a good time, but before you and your partner go through what are bound to be some very difficult conversations, please make sure to take the booze-colored glasses off before you decide this is something you can't live without.
posted by actuallyiam at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2008

I think you should take your conversations with B to another level. She probably has trouble reconciling the idea of hurting you with the idea of being good to you. The fact that she doesn't intuitively understand the connection between pain and pleasure doesn't mean that she will never understand it, it means that someone has to explain it to her.

Talk to her about the way it makes you feel to be whipped, or pinched, or whatever it was that happened. Talk to her about the connection between that feeling, and your feelings about sex in general, and your attraction to her. Give her a context in which to think about giving you what you want. Help her see herself in the story that you're telling yourself when you have these multiple, pain-induced orgasms.
posted by bingo at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2008

Response by poster: I want to put in a voice of dissent on whether or not B could become a top. For some people, maybe not. But for others, with a little encouragement it is possible. Sexual tastes can change. Talk with your partner and see if this experimentation is at all an option--let her write herself off, don't write her off immediately!
posted by Anonymous at 12:20 PM on March 8, 2008

Response by poster: I should add, it's not just whether or not they want to give pain. You can spank someone and enjoy it because your partner's enjoying it, not necessarily because you are. But some people aren't even willing to try because they simply don't know how. They feel awkward and weird going in, they're embarrassed, and they simply don't want to deal with the situation. In that case, you have to assure them that this is all OK and you can take it slow through the learning process.
posted by Anonymous at 12:22 PM on March 8, 2008

Only using myself as an example (your milage will vary), I've found it impossible to change people's wants/needs/practices when it comes to sex. You've learned a valuable lesson with B. Although she means much to you as your significant other, sex is a huge part of any healthy relationship. Clearly, as you've pointed out, this part of your life is suffering terribly. Justify it as you may for all the other happiness she brings you, you're missing out on a part of your life you want to (and possibly need to) embrace. The world is a huge place, my friend. This may sound a bit Hallmarkish, but a person who has everything you need is out there for you. Be bold and find fulfillment for yourself. This life is too short to live in quiet desperation.
posted by Lucy2Times at 1:41 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't discount B's ability to give you pain. There's a certain aversion to hurting those we love, and you may be able to culture within her an ability to hurt you if you reinforce the idea that, for you, pain is good. She may not like the idea of harming you, but so long as you're obviously and vocally enjoying it, she may be able to give it a shot.

And hey, once she's able to realize that she's physically hurting, but emotionally and psychologically pleasing you, she might relax and be turned on by it.
posted by explosion at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2008

I'd disagree with those who think B can learn to be a top. If you've known her for ten years and you are sure she couldn't, then it's very likely she could not. If my husband wanted me to top, I'd try, but it would be insanely stressful for me and not give me any pleasure other than that of seeing him enjoy himself. I doubt I could manage it more than once or twice a month.

I also doubt I could have a pure vanilla sexual relationship with someone, no matter how much I loved them. I think you should find a way to get the sex you want, either by playing with others (with your partner's permission) or in a new relationship.
posted by happyturtle at 2:23 PM on March 8, 2008

Dan Savage has addressed this numerous times. Often, his responses say that the non-kinky partner must accept and indulge the kink to some extent, or allow outside sex, for the relationship to last. Here are stories of people who've made it work. There's a great one about a lesbian couple who gradually eased into having kinky sex over a course of months midway down the page. They talked alot and worked into it with baby steps. I think that should be your model.
posted by slow graffiti at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

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