BDSM and love

I’d been thinking of doing one or more posts on related topics, but a post by Clarisse Thorn on how BDSM can be ‘love sex’ too inspired me to write about a rather personal story on just that topic.

From the blog post I linked to:

This came back to mind during a conversation I had a few days ago: I was talking to a girl who really likes BDSM sex but referred to non-BDSM sex as “love sex”. Because, you know, love is just not an ingredient in BDSM sex. “Everyone knows” that — the same way “everyone knows” that BDSM always arises from childhood abuse, or dominant sadism is for villains, or everyone who likes BDSM is damaged and miserable and irresponsible, or ….

Not to put too fine a point on it: fuck that.

I’d like to second her on the “fuck that”.

That particular post was on the topic of porn, since it was for Lady Porn Day, but I want to focus a bit more on personal experiences for this post.

As I’ve mentioned before, my sex life wasn’t really working for me, and I even thought that I might be somewhat asexual, or becoming so. The sex I was having, when I had it, didn’t quite work for me. But it was the sort of thing I was supposed to want, and BDSM was not, so I somehow managed to ignore anything I might have interpreted as signals of what I turn out to have been missing in the physical experience of my sex life.

And then came the time that changed. Details are unimportant, but I asked my partner to do a bit more of something I knew I liked, which led to him doing more of that, which led to figuring out more about what else I liked and wanted (on both our parts — it wasn’t as simple as me keeping it from him, as I didn’t know it myself). Over the course of the next few weeks, we got to be recognized by a woman working at our local female-friendly sex store and had a lot of fun trying out new things to see what worked and, on a couple occasions, what didn’t.

And then, a few weeks into all of that, was one particular day that changed everything.

On some level, my partner wasn’t sure to what extent I actually wanted what we were doing and what we were talking about trying. He trusted I would tell him if I didn’t want to, but on some level believed that it was partly something I was doing for him. And on my part, there was a part of me that didn’t know how much what we were doing was really me; I knew I wasn’t just playing along for his sake, but there was still a voice that questioned how much I was really “one of those people”.

Before I say any more, I want to make it clear that, while I’ve laughed until I’ve cried, and I’ve certainly cried because of strong emotions — fear, anger, frustration, etc. — the closest I’d been to crying for happiness would maybe be better described as being for relief from some other emotion. And I’d always thought the notion of crying because of beauty was completely ridiculous a notion.

And then came the moment I had to stop things because I just couldn’t handle such strong feelings of love and beauty.

I was tied face down to the bed, my arms behind my back, my partner doing that thing I like with his teeth, and I felt more loved than I ever had in my entire life until that point — more so than when partner told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. The world felt full of love and beauty to a degree I just could not take.

My partner helped me free from my bonds and sat there with me, holding me, letting me cry and talk about what I was feeling.

Later he told me that what I said then, about feeling so loved I needed to take a break to let it out, made a huge difference for him. It helped shut up some of his self-doubt about the things he wanted, and wants, to do to and with me, and it made him preemptively defensive of me, and others like him or me, from claims like the ones Clarisse comments on, the idea that BDSM folks don’t love our partners, and things like that.

The sort of thing that many people think of, apparently including some BDSM folks along with many non-BDSM folks, as “making love” would not be a loving experience for me. I’d be miserable. I’d feel trapped, and not in charge of my own life. I know because that’s how I sometimes felt with the person I wanted to be with. And even with the excitement of a new relationship, at best that sort of sex life was never fulfilling for me.

But when my partner restrains my arm behind my back, or tightens the straps for the restraints for my legs, or drips hot wax on my backside, I know he knows me, listens to me, and loves me, and wants to help me experience the things my body can make me experience. And how much more loved can you be than that?

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