We try not to trouble Debby with too much non-clinical, research-based questions. This week, we’re having the civilian half of our sex column take a swing at this question solo. Debby will be back throughout the month, so don’t miss her too much.
While on one of a handful of breaks from one of my longest relationships, I fell into experimenting with kink and bondage. Eventually, my former partner and I got back together and now I’m curious about incorporating this kind of play into our sex. I recently tried spanking my gf during doggy sex and she did not react at all. Not sure of what to make of this or how to proceed, and do I go outside the relationship to get this attention and play if my partner isn’t into it?
Sarah: This is me just sitting here, blinking at the layers that are daring me to unpack them one at a time. There is, in short, a fuckton of things going on here.
First of all, I’m instantly going to give side-eye to relationships that feature regular breakups with spans long enough for you to have what sounds like entire other relationships within them. While I have never been inside this dynamic myself (because I’m not a crazy person with infinite energy to rehash old bullshit), I do find that these kinds of relationships never, ever, EVER end well. Either they turn into begrudging, bickery marriages or these people keep lighting the same, ever shortening fuse until an inevitable, catastrophic explosion occurs that rocks the entire group of friends surrounding the couple. In my case, it was jumping out of the way as our friend group’s annual beer drinking olympics devolved into a fistfight between two people whose insecurities fit each other just so. The point is, don’t be that couple. You need to decide right now if your issues are ones you can deal with in the long haul exactly as they are today without some far-off future point where these things are supposed to magically change.
Now, onto the sex part. I think there is no one in this world you should be able to be more honest with about your desires than your long-term partner, including the enjoyment you get from experimenting with kink and bondage. If you enjoy the dominance side of kink, there are ways to incorporate it with training wheel-style ease if she needs open to the idea but needs some gentle warming-up, in which case you can grab a silk tie or rope, or some standard-issue fuzzy handcuffs. However, this should only occur after a conversation with your partner in which, and I can’t stress this enough, you don’t spend too much time talking about how good sex was with this other person who isn’t her.
So let’s say that, for the sake of discussion, that she’s not interested. If you’re the kind of person trying to slap a polyamory bandaid on some major relationship problems, kindly see yourself right the fuck out. Polyamory, as we’ve covered many, many times in this space, is not just an excuse to fuck around on your partner. It requires a kind of emotional honesty and self-awareness that most adults will never be able to achieve, and even then, it’s not all sunshine and free love rainbows, and the speech “Hi, hon, how about I start fucking other people?” definitely will not solve any problems you might be already having with your lady.
When I hear this scenario, it makes me want to ask if anything has ever changed after any of these breakups. Generally, when you’re “on-again, off-again,” it’s purely out of habit and not because any of your problems change or evolve at all. If “longest” means multiple years and multiple breakups, it’s time to get out your boey knife and start slashing at your caught emotional pant leg. We’ve all gotten addicted to the drama of a relationship that there is just no fix for, and it’s time to recognize your place in the grand tradition and try to get out and find someone who you want to be with without needing several month-long breaks. Believe it or not, there are some people in the world who you will just want to keep on being with, and those are the ones with whom you should expend your energy and hard work on a quality relationship building, not this head-banging-the-same-wall nonsense that you’re all wrapped up in now.