BDSM: not all about sex

It’s one of the common thing we tell newbies to the world of kink: it’s not all about sex. But it definitely can be sexual, and often is. For me, I’ve found, that sexual attraction to my play partner ultimately determines whether the scene is ‘sexual,’ or not, regardless of the relationship (which is usually platonic) outside of the scene itself. This has led to some personal hang ups, re: sexual energy and whether or not that should or needs to be negotiated or otherwise discussed.

In the past few years, my scenes generally are either in private with an intimate partner or public with a platonic partner. There has been very little crossover. With an intimate partner, sexual stimulation is often on the goals of play, but not so with platonic play partners. Because of this, I would usually keep my underwear or jockstrap on when playing in public. I’ve been fortunate that the right venues, partners, and party energy have mostly gotten over this hurdle in recent months, allowing me to bear it all at parties.

However, this has brought forth my newest concern – the mid-scene erection. My public scenes are generally bondage, impact, and/or needles and never directly sexual. Even though all sensation is far from any erogenous zones, I’m flying at half or full mast with pre-cum dripping down my leg by the end.

And this feels…wrong?

It feels good, great even. But wrong. Because the scenes were never intended to be sexual or include sex (which I’ll define as intentional sexual stimulation), I feel like I’m accidentally taking the scene to place it was never negotiated to go. Taking or giving sexual energy in a way that is not representative of the relationship we have. It even can break me out of headspace as I start worrying what my Top or others watching might think or assume from my uncontrollable bodily function.

Is this okay? Should it be something I tell my top before hand might happen? Am I just being over analytical and worrying about nothing?

Rubber bands and tears

“What are your thoughts on rubber bands?” she asks.

Well, shit, I think, Stingy terribleness from Satan’s asshole.

I tell her as much, but agree to give it a go, anyway. I’m up for pushing some boundaries this evening.

It is somewhat early in the night, the party just picking up. Playing early was a good idea – with a party this size, we would run out of space quickly, and, depending on the severity of the scene, I’ll have enough recovery time before driving home.

My clothes come off and the cuffs go on. The cross we’re using allows my arms to go straight up overhead while my legs are spread as normal.

“This is a very vulnerable position,” I tell her. She grins.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Here we go.

The first snap lands and it isn’t so bad. A few more. Alright maybe this won’t be as bad after all?

She wasn’t using them to full effect.

I get a brief reprieve as she switches to more classic impact toys. I’ve historically not done a lot of impact play. It’s particularly difficult for me to process pain from impact play. But hey, I’m here to push boundaries right?

Minutes tick by and there’s impact, more rubber bands, things for poking.

It’s hard to focus on the pain specifically or to simply let go but either would be better than focusing on the sights and sounds around us. A woman in front of me is stretching for a rope scene, behind us I catch the distinct laugh of a friend, to the right, I feel the gaze of a new guy who has stopped to watch.

“I need a minute.” Everything stops.

I take this time to refocus on processing the pain.

We’ve only played once before, but she can read my body well enough – the pain starts again. She increases the intensity till we’re tiptoeing at my limit previous limits.

But I’m ready this time. Only the pain exists and I let is wash over me. The intensity continues to rise, past my previous limits, past any recalled pain boundaries. And then tears.


 

Tears. What? Tears? I’m mean, they aren’t coming down like waterfalls but eyes are wet and these are undoubtedly tears. Weird. I’ve never cried from physical masochism before. Am I okay with this? I guess so? There’s nothing inherently wrong with crying, least of all from pain, but it’s very unexpected.

Sure, tears. That’s fine. I guess I’ve passed a pain boundary. As someone who has historically shied away from impact scenes, this is pretty intense. In fact, it’s the most intense scene in terms of physical pain I’ve yet had. Tears are fine.

Skillfully, she roller coasters the pain, each peak higher than the last till am at a new breaking point.

“Six more,” she says.

I count them out and we’re done. I let my body slump, hanging from the bondage and let me eyes dry up.

I’m weak, exhausted, and my body is done. But my mind is wanting more, hungry, and contemplating the next scene.

2015 in review

As this year comes to a close, it’s time to look back and see what progress I’ve gained and what mistakes were made. I have learned much, forgotten some, and all the while have walked an ever changing path forward.

2015 saw the greatest of my achievements yet – finishing undergrad. While not particularly impressive in terms of the difficulty of classes or bringing forth anything of direct value, it was a milestone that was a long time coming. It took seven years for me to finish undergrad, and although some of that can be attributed to choosing career over school, I made numerous blunders in my college life. Best of all, I have proved to myself my ability to finish a long term goal, even with adversity.

A major side effect of finishing school is my mental health is in a place like never before. Due to how I was raised and the priorities enforced by my parents, education has always been at the forefront of my thoughts. Because of this, most of my self worth was tied to how well I did in school – causing some of the most mentally and emotionally difficult times over the past decade.

But here I stand. A continuing focus on meditation and talk therapy leaves me happier, more confident, and healthier than I have ever been. With this, I feel my communication skills are immeasurably better than they’ve been as well. With a calmer mind, I take slights in hand better than ever and have been able to limit my own. Perhaps most importantly is learning to not require perfection, in myself or others. I started 2015 with a new tattoo and it reads:

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

A quote from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, it is now a constant reminder in the flesh. I have become much more adept at understanding the imperfections of myself and others. My frustration and anger at friends’ actions (or inactions) can be understood as normal human imperfections – both their actions and my emotional response. Conflicts do no mean the end of relationships as they once did.

And I myself have made, do make, and will make many mistakes and blunders in regards to others. As empathetic as I am, I will hurt others and push them away regardless of intent. It is only human. Despite a deep seated want to be friends with everyone or to be on good terms with everyone, it is simply not possible. And that’s okay. As long as I continue to surround myself with people who I can count on to press me to be my best and I, them, I will move forward.

My growth in other areas as had positive impact as well. This year I found the leather community and embraced it. I too feel as if I have been embraced my brothers and sisters in leather. In fact, for the first time in my life, I feel truly welcome. My journey in leather has just begun, but I hope and trust those I have met and will meet will help guide me and stand with me on this path.

In previous years, I have had inner turmoil in who I am and where I sit on the power exchange spectrum, but 2015 has allowed me to embrace my submission and service. I’ve been blessed with the ability to serve my community in several ways and hope my ability to do so continues into the new year. I can’t deny my hope that I may one day have a dominant to serve as well.

As these words come to an end I want to thank with all my heart those in my life who have helped guide me, those I’ve been able to confide in (and vice-versa), and all those who have and will continue to be an important part of my personal life and the larger community that has been instrumental to helping me becoming the best man I can. You know who you are.

So, whether online confidant, a Twitter friend, or someone I can see and feel in the flesh, I thank you all for your continued support and friendship. I thank you for all you’ve done for me and I wish you the happiest and best of new years.

With Love,

J.T. Revner

Dominance, submission, and self-confidence

In a few weeks, this blog (and my journey into real-world kink) will be 3 years old. In that time, a lot has happened, across the spectrum. I’ve had three different jobs. I graduated university. I moved out of my parents’s house. I’ve grown as a person in ways I’d never have predicted.

My explorations of power exchange have waxed and waned, but, notably, the label swapping that I’ve done has been a point of interest. Reconciling switchiness in play and sex with submission in relationships has been a particular sticking point. If I can and want to top, why not be dominant as well? On numerous occasions, I’ve found myself meeting submissive people who I am interested in and the draw to dominance comes back. I could be a good dominant.

I’ve ran this past my best friend and confidant several times, and he always responds the same: “Yes, you could be dominant, but would you actually be happy in that kind of arrangement long term?”

I’ve pondered this at length, though I do not have answer.

I have, however, recognized a thinking and behavior pattern in myself: when I am flying high, all is good, and spraying my confidence all over everything, it’s the submission I crave, not dominance. I am the shit and I have every reason to have high expectations for a dominant partner. I will find her eventually and in the meantime: watch out world, JT is here.

I wear my sunglasses inside. I’m a badass like that.

It’s in times of frustration, depression, and exhaustion that the interest in dominance slips back in. This is different than the I-met-an-awesome-subby dominance. This is the life-sucks-maybe-changing-role-on-FetLife-will-fix-it dominance. It’s taken time to recognize this for what it is, but looking back, it’s been consistent. I think that when life is starting to spin out of control, dominance might somehow help – if I feel like I can dominate another, than surely I can take control of my own life? It’s faulty thinking, to say the least.

This recognition has been good for me and has allowed me to stay the course as it were in both my personal understanding of myself and how I express who I am to the rest of the world.

It’s quite difficult to write at night with sunglasses on. Just sayin’.

Leveling up my sex life

This is theoretically a sex and relationship blog, but I seem to not be writing about much of either lately (or at all, for that matter).

So, I’m a kinky pervert who has been active in the local BDSM, queer, and poly scenes for almost three years. I would venture to guess that most people are already relatively versed in sex before they get involved sexually liberated communities, let alone three years in. I, however, am not well versed. Barring one failed experiment a couple of months ago, I haven’t had sex in over a year and count the total number of times I’ve had sex on my two hands. I won’t lie, it’s frustrating.

I’ve “blamed” some of my lack of sexual experience on demisexuality in some cases. I do think I’ve passed up probable opportunities for sex and could have more opportunities if I tried but I have not been comfortable enough to pursue these prospects. So, wanting or needing more emotional intimacy may play a part, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

In my head, I feel like I’d prefer some level of sexual promiscuity and spontaneity in my life. Exploratory bits of fleeting romance and intimacy as I have a taste of all that life offers. Maybe a one night stand with a guy in France with a language barrier adding to the absurdity. Perhaps a passionate but short-lived romance with a woman in south-east Asia as we backpack together for a few weeks. These are some examples of my head fantasies. In reality, I never do this, even on a more local and reasonable scale. Could I? I’d like to think so.

Now confidence, or lack thereof, plays into this a lot. The past three years have been nothing but life-changing for me. The biggest jump I’ve made is being able to actually ask people out with relative ease. I’m much better at picking up signs of reciprocated interest and have confidence that people actually like me and that I’m actually likable. But that seems to have only pushed the anxiety further down the line to initiating intimacy. That’s my new barrier.

I flirt and kiss with reckless abandon, but much past that is a roadblock still. Certainly a big part of it is not wanting to be pushy. There’s a line between sexually aggressive initiator and pushy and I’m deathly afraid of crossing it. Staying too far on the other side is not helpful either and can look like disinterest. I need to be able to move closer to that line without ever crossing it and be confident doing so.

The other issue is simple lack of experience. Currently, my sexual experience pretty much solely is on my back being ridden. Actually being on top or behind or otherwise thrusting is simply something I don’t actually know how to do. My sexual interests range the full-scale from bottom to top to switchy to violent and primal. Having really only experienced the former, I lack basic sex skills. Adding to that, I pretty much only date kinky people now, so basic thrusting while also pulling hair or something seems ridiculously complicated.

This might come as a big surprise, but it turns out that many dominants like to get fucked and have their partners initiate. *Gasp.* So even in a D/s context or with sexually aggressive partners, I need to be able to do more than lie there.

In the meantime, this means I’ll need to find partners who are both patient enough as I get the hang of things or even provide a guiding hand as I earn Sex XP.

 

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I want to be happy

I don’t understand it. For all my self-examination, therapy, and treatment, happiness eludes me. I’m a good person, a kind person, and as empathetic as they come. But I am not happy.

On paper, I should be happy, no? I have a loving family who I’m out to and who supports me in every way, a job with great work environment that pushes and challenges me, and an ever widening circle of friends who care deeply for me. I do all the things a formerly-depressed me didn’t do: I take care with how I present myself, I keep up on hygiene, I make an effort to be social several times per week. I go to the gym regularly. I haven’t self-harmed in years.

To most observers, I have it pretty good. Why then am I in tears as I fall asleep most nights? Time in the car is spent wracking my brain for what I could be doing differently, doing better. Suicidal ideations a daily occurrence for as long as I can remember.

Dozens of people would take my call, text, or PM at this moment, but what’s the point of reaching out and talking? I talk and talk and it makes no difference. By reaching out I’m asking those I care about to take some of the load, which is no fair to them. Besides, I have a therapist for talking.

What about all the drugs the doctors love to prescribe? Sure, it slows the depression and anxiety, but in exchange, zombification. Not happiness.

The meditation staves off anger. I goddamn Jedi Master when it comes to that. But it doesn’t bring happiness.

I just want to be happy, is that so much to ask?

Leatherman

I write to you today as I come down from my last weekend kinky con of the year – Great Lakes Leather Alliance. A weekend unlike the others, I believe this to have been the best event of the four I’ve attended in recent weeks. Although my previously written about moment at SINergy still holds a top spot, GLLA as a whole was such an amazing experience that the event stands above the rest.

Notably, I saw many power exchange relationships at the event. As a Leather event and one that hosts a Master/slave title competition (1 of 7), the number of power exchange relationships that look like what I seek was beyond expectations and many of my…internet-M/s-couple-crushes (totally a thing) were there. These are couples whose books I’ve read, posts I’ve bookmarked and the like. Seeing their dynamics operate in real-time was fascinating and encouraging that I may have that one day as well.

The level of community and camaraderie at GLLA was great to be apart of and I felt welcomed everywhere I went. Like with other events, I found that volunteering my time for a couple of shifts allowed me to connect with those I wouldn’t have otherwise (plus, as security, I satisfied my sadism by making people wait while friends ran in to get their forgotten event badges).

Also, as someone who had previously avoided Leather due to my perceiving it as a one-true-way mentality, it was great to see that perception torn apart once again. As with other events this year, numerous Leatherpeople of many different styles and traditions came together as one family for the weekend. In fact, after the past 9 months of exploring what Leather means to me and if it fits journey, I now feel comfortable embracing the label of Leatherman.

Letting go

It’s been a pretty great few weeks. There have certainly been some lows, but an overall net positive.

It’s con season, so for me that means lots of naked people and floggers. I’m two in at this point – Twisted Tryst and SINergy. The events had very different energy, even if they seem similar on paper. Both are weekend events with a bunch of classes and plenty of play. However, the former is a camping event and had a lot of pagan and woo energy mixed in. The latter, a hotel event, was more similar to the events I am used to, but with a larger presence of Leather people.

Tryst proved to be an emotional roller coaster. Being out in nature and sleeping in a hammock for 3 nights gave me a lot of time to process. I’m not sure that I came to any big revelations other than broad things like “I’m on the right path” and “these are my people,” but these are always good things to visit and revisit anyway. And although the two tentative scenes I had planned going into the weekend fell through, I got a beating and a flaying by a good friend and left with a pretty crazy high. (It turns out that emotional connection = better scene *is* actually true.)

SINergy was a different beast. Of note was demo bottoming for a power exchange class. This proved to be a more significant experience than I anticipated. Maybe it was the presenter’s experience, maybe his energy, or maybe I finally decided to let go in this safe (because temporary) environment, but I have never been so keyed in on someone in my life. Even with the D/s that I have previously explored, the experience came as a shock. A good shock. A holy-shit-please-yes-that shock. Thinking back to every time in the last few years that I’ve questioned my interest in power exchange or thought that maybe I’d do better as a dominant, it seems quite silly now. No, it felt right taking that role and being in that headspace.

And that submissive headspace. A few minutes in, there might as well have been no one in the audience, because I didn’t notice them. Or care what they thought or how they might view me. He was the center of my world for that hour, with a little leftover attention going to his slave and the other demo bottom.

Now, despite all this, there was plenty of struggle. I’m not interested in dominant men and I struggled submitting to masculine energied dominance. There was a strong internal fight or flight in the beginning but I was able to calm myself through meditation techniques and a hefty amount of jaw clenching. Hopefully I can sit through the class again, in the audience, and actually learn what was being taught, because I cannot recall a word of it. But what I did learn was invaluable and probably more important to my journey than any other kinky class I’ve sat in.

The rest of the event was quite good as well, and while I had no S&M scenes I got both my pairs of boots blacked, by an old friend and a new one. Bootblacks are the best! My involvement with the power exchange class opened up conversation with another new friend which I hope will continue to grow into the future.

Oh, yeah. While this won’t come as a surprise to those local to me, I’ve got two significant people in my life these days: Megan, who I’ve been dating for a few months and have recently solidified a relationship with and another person who I am dating and hopefully will solidify a relationship with in the near future.

Things seem to be coming together for good ole JT.

Upcoming: COPE will be another (larger) hotel event in a few weeks and then Great Lakes Leather Alliance a few weeks after that. While Megan and I have stepped our toes into the power exchange pool (yes, I take things reallllly slow these days, I get it), I suggested we test out a more significant dynamic during COPE, to which she agreed. Stay tuned on how that goes.

Values

This is more of a personal exercise in what I value in life and in power exchange relationships – something written down that I can refer to myself in times of need or direct others to in some cases.

Peace and conservation of personal energy

What I mean by this is that I despise conflict, as a general rule. I am not naive enough to think I can avoid conflict altogether, but I make conscious decisions to avoid it when I can. However, his does not mean I don’t hold opinions or ideologies. Far from it. But conflict takes energy and since my energy is limited, I prefer to save it things that that are positive. Also, I have found one of a few cases to almost be true:

  1. My want (need) to avoid conflict far outweighs my want of having my opinion heard, recognized, or discussed. I always have an opinion but the little things, what to do, where to go for dinner, what movie to see, etc., but by deferring to others on the things that don’t really matter, I can proactively avoid potential conflict.
  2. My opinion is such a closely held belief, morally and ethically that I know any differing opinions will cause anger and strongly expressed emotions. In these cases, I try to actively avoid bringing them up except for people ‘on-the-fence’ or with people I know already hold my opinions. Pretty much anything that falls into social justice lies in this category. I.e. if someone disagrees with same-sex marriage than I want nothing to do with them whatsoever, regardless of any other redeeming qualities. Because these tend to be polarized issue, I find no benefit in “discussing” these issues with people I know will never change. If forced into discussion, I have and will end relationships (platonic, familial, romantic, and even professional) with those that oppose my views.
  3. I am more interested in hearing an opposing opinion for academic or personal reasons that reserve expressing my opinion in order to invite additional sharing. In my experience people are far more interested in sharing their opinions if you have not directly expressed differing views. The majority of political and economic issues lie here for me. There are a few people I am comfortable actively debating with (because I trust our disagreements won’t negatively effect our relationship) but for the rest, I’m usually keen absorb all their views, regardless of my personal thoughts on them.

Learning for learning’s sake

One of the biggest shocks of growing up was the realization that it is physically impossible for me to learn everything I want to learn and consume every bit of media that I want to experience. I will never visit everyplace or experience the full breadth that humanity and Earth has to offer. I find this fact to be chilling.

But that doesn’t mean I do my best. The ability to continuously learn is one I hold most dear. Ignorance is mostly definitely not strength, BB. That at some point my mind will begin to deteriorate and I will lose knowledge at a faster rate than I gain it is unbearable.

But I still have plenty of time to read innumerable books, experience the best visual and audio entertainment, jump out of a plane, swim with sharks, and backpack across New Zealand. And let’s not forget all the physical and mental I’ve yet to experience with a willing partner and a suitcase of toys.

Integrity and punctuality

These may not seem like they should tie together so much at first, but they do for me. It’s really easy. I believe that people should, as best they can, live authentically, and without lies. I feel like this should be a given, but I’ve seen that often, it is not. By extension, being on time is hugely important to me. If I need to be somewhere, I generally plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early. I’d rather spend a few minutes reading a book or trawling through Twitter than to be later. For others, I generally expect the same. I understand that life happens, people make mistakes, traffic is suddenly bad, etc., but when people are consistently late, it tells me that their word cannot be trusted, even in things unrelated to punctuality.

Relationship anarchy, solo poly, and power exchange

I’m not really sure how to reconcile the radical autonomy inherent in my version of poly with my want to be an a full-blown power exchange relationship.

Drawing from relationship anarchy and solo poly relationship paradigms, I’m really digging the no rules*, no restrictions, no expectations version of poly. For the first time I don’t feel weird (i.e. being socialized that such behavior is unethical) about exploring possibilities with several people at once. In earlier non-monogamous arrangements, I struggled to the point of failure with this. I now can focus on myself first (“I’m my own primary”), and open up enough to allow safe people in a bit at a time – keeping an ever watchful eye on yours truly, keeping him upright (he talks about himself in the third person, deal with it).

Of course, this type of structure (or lack thereof) is at odds with wanting a D/s relationship, which are by nature full of rules, restrictions, and expectations. Is it possible to have both? Is it actually what I want? Some part of me fears I just want to avoid any real commitments, but that just may be a lingering side effect of being raised in a monogamous world.

I know at least a handful of people who do non-hierarchical poly with power exchange. Some have even explained it to me, but to no avail – it’s still difficult to wrap my head around it. I mean, I get the physical rules/negotiations business and how it can work, but not the emotional side of it. The D/s (M/s) I seek is (eventually) all-in. Perhaps it’s finding a dominant who I trust I can go all-in with who will still allow me the ability to have other partners. But what then, if they revoke that decision? If I had others partners at that time, that certainly wouldn’t fair (and, in my opinion, unethical) to them. I don’t see a way to merge the two relationship styles and be ethical about it.

The other thought is that if I really am avoiding the commitments, than current paradigm’s goal is to find the perfect partner (pro tip: they don’t exist). I can leave myself open to finding this mythical creature while still having meaningful connections with others. Though, if I concede the ‘perfect’ D/s partner doesn’t exist, then should I even bother having this concern in the first place? Maybe solo poly isn’t my ideal, but it’s certainly more realistic and has bore more fruit than chasing the alternative.

Head meet desk.

 

* Besides the basics of communication, no lying, informed consent, etc.