Your Call: He’s Kinky, She’s Vanilla, Is the Relationship Doomed?

Share your advice for this reader in the comments section below…

Dear Em & Lo,

I recently started dating a wonderful man. He’s smart, and interesting, and handsome and the sex has been delightful.

But not outstanding. But we’ve been working a fairly brisk learning curve and we can’t seem to get enough of each other anyway, and I’m stupidly happy in his arms so everything should be coming up roses, right?

Except for the GIANT black-leather-studded elephant in the room, which is his propensity towards BDSM. He hasn’t really trotted it out to me in a big way, but I know that I am decidedly NOT into whatever he’s into, eg: humiliation, manipulation, extreme bondage, violent spankings, etc. He’s brought it up a few times as something that he engages in as a significant part of his sexuality.

I’m definitely not that girl. I can’t imaging enjoying anything about it. I’m the type to be playful in bed, or silly, or just rut like an animal. But always as an equal to my partner. I don’t want to dominate OR be submissive as a defined and absolute role. Humiliation and manipulation, feeling powerless or at someone’s mercy…well, the thought of it frankly terrifies the hell out of me. And being scared does NOT turn me on. I might be the only woman in the world who doesn’t have  a rape fantasy.

I suppose it bears mention that I have a history of manipulation and abuse in my childhood. So having gone through many years and many thousands of dollars of therapy, I’m loathe to have someone assert control over me all over again.

So…is this doomed? The more I think about how this is an integral part of his sexuality, the more upset I get and want to run away. We’ve been having pretty much vanilla sex, and it’s good. But it’s not great. Not for either of us. For me, I think, it’s because I’m perpetually wondering if he’s going to do something that makes me ill at ease, or put me in a position where I will feel scared or somehow terrorized. And I know that’s what he wants, and that by my unwillingness to engage in BDSM, I’m robbing him of his desires. I mean, hell, it’s the only porn he has.

Should I break up with him? I’m definitely not the girl who will satisfy this for him.

— Vanilla Girl

What should Vanilla Girl do? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.


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83 Comments on "Your Call: He’s Kinky, She’s Vanilla, Is the Relationship Doomed?"


LB
1 month 25 days ago

You most definitely should or you will end up like me shedding tears on my pillow for years. If i had know his bdsm kink is serious, if i had educated myself more on the subject i wouldn’t have married him, have children just to suffer emotionally without the closeness of having normal sex. It’s not fair for either of us. Good luck.

1 month 24 days ago

I understand your bitterness at ending up with someone who is so sexually mismatched, but it seems unfair to refer to what you do in bed as “normal sex.” Who gets to decide what “normal” is? Some people think that simply using birth control makes sex dirty, because it separates the act from procreation. Even if you don’t want to get your kink on, there’s no need to call someone else abnormal. There’s no such thing in bed as “normal” — there’s simply what you like, and what somebody else likes.

Cherryl
17 days 12 hours ago

I define normal sex as that which doesn’t require special equipment or a safe word. To me, having normal sex does indeed imply closeness and a connection with your partner, while kink implies a separation. Look at the entire bdsm role play and scripting of scenarios activity. The planning and ritual that goes into that seems anal and a bit obsessive-compulsive. With the focus on the script and the scenario how can you not lose sight of any natural feelings and desires as they arise? I’d find that very distracting. Em, you illustrate it best when you describe it as “what you like, and what somebody else likes.” LB was talking about a relationship, not which “technique” turned her on more.

Face it–kink focuses only on arousal and “getting off”, and relies on more and more technology to do that, like a drug addiction. It takes more and more technology, because of the void in the soul that the lack of emotion leaves behind. While “vanilla sex”, as kinks like to call it, is deeply satisfying to the emotions, as well as the libido. It’s like breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding. Completely portable, all natural, and you don’t need a diaper bag to carry extra equipment.

Sacrilicious
16 days 14 hours ago

You really should refrain from speaking in an authoritative tone about that which you clearly know nothing about. The practice of BDSM *absolutely* requires trust, respect and connection with your partner. My sexual experiences on the kinkier side have been some of the most emotional, erotic and DEEPLY satisfying I’ve ever had.
It’s fine that you don’t think kinky sex is for you, but quit speaking about it as if you have any idea how it’s enjoyed by those who do. Carry on with your missionary.

Lolo
8 days 7 hours ago

Please be respectful.(: there’s no need to be defensive.

Matt
17 days 4 hours ago

Others might beg to differ. I’m not a kink or BDSM kinda guy in the slightest, but just have to point out that the egocentrism in your thinking.

You find it to be too much planning. You find it distracting. You feel it focuses too much on the script and scenario, and loses site of “natural” (to you!) feelings and desires as they arise (within you). I feel pretty much exactly as you when it comes to my own needs… but I wouldn’t in a million years think that my own, personal needs and desires should be applied to the massive numbers of people out there who enjoy kink and BDSM.

Should we tell them all they’re doing it wrong–according to us, that is? I think they’d probably say that they’re not super interested in how you define “normal sex”, and that they’re doing just fine, thanks, without someone outside of their bedroom deciding on their behalf what’s “deeply satisfying.”

Jessexyum
9 months 12 days ago

Why do you stay. You deserve too be with someone confident and comfortable with.

Lady Di
9 months 15 days ago

My life has been one of satisfying serial relationships that last 2-3 years then burn out. I actually like this because I get to feel fully loved and open up to someone’s life. 7 years ago I met a man that really did it for me physically and intellectually. However he introduced me to his BDSM desires and held them up as a higher standard than what I view as vivid sexual and deep personal connections. 4 years ago we married. Even before we married he started to come out as unsatisfied and lacked interest in satisfying me. I worked with him to share his drive towards incorporating BDSM into our lives. It did not work out as no matter what I tried he always seems to go “somewhere else” during the scenes and also with my “fun and lovingly playful” sex which truly rocks my world. As time passes we are drifting further apart. I feel threatened and physically abandoned by his sexual preferences, he dismisses my needs and yet feels guilty about it. OK, we are in our early 60’s and maybe should just suck up our losses and try for some peace in the relationship. He is getting bored with his life, I am emotionally disconnecting. I try to speak with him about this but he gets angry, defensive and even more secretive and distant. Its only a matter of time til I find a lover that fulfills my personal needs for that sexual playful connection. Cannot see that he wont do the same. wish he would just man up and agree to divorce. BDSM and non-BDSM people who marry suffer so much. Life is full of lessons, glad I am learning this one while I am still beautiful and vital. Wish I were not writing this but honesty and moving forward in life is essential to who I am. Thanks for all the sharing and obviously deep insights from both sides.

jennie
9 months 20 days ago

Thankyou so much to Sara & Nancy. I was going insane with grief due to my husband coming out as ‘a dom’ recently while I was working away from home (saving his ass). He never once in 12 years let on…but was so emotionally distant and cold that I thought it was me. I tried everything, took care of myself, perfect home worked full time you name it. I found your comments have saved me. I am feeling ‘normal’ and although ‘vanilla’ doesn’t define me by any means it is who I am. I can’t believe a few weeks ago that I would even know these terms! My husband wants to stay friends… He tells me about his sub …….on my return home only weeks after being told, his room is kitted out. I’ve said, I can love you as a friend an advisor because I love you but can’t accept women in my house! I can’t believe my life has come to this…my in-laws who I adore are devastated =they just think we ‘grew apart’ ohh I wish I could tell them.
Anyway, this page has helped me beyond words…I was toying with the idea of throwing my self at him acting sub forever…now realise thanks to nancy that I would feel abused and that I crave love and affection from with someone who I can trust. Thank you. A note for some in hiding. Don’t have your cake and eat it..tell as early as possible or you live a lie and waste anothers life…The pain is immense, my heart literally feels broken. Jen

Cherryl
17 days 12 hours ago

Tell your in-laws. Make him live his truth.

Jennifer
1 month 18 days ago

I have stumbled on these comments and so glad I have. I married 10 years ago. I am the vanilla girl and he – on a slow drip drip if discovery is heavily into BDSM and kink – or is this the same thing? Who knows? It’s not my thing. We separated a year ago and stayed very much in touch and as we had been – except we were deluding ourselves. I loved him as my rock. He resented me for the sex he didn’t get. But he didn’t show his emotions but I showed him mine. It would seem that over 10 year he has increasingly been involved with the kink scene. He uncharitable blames this on me and the lack of sex…. ‘ you drive me to it’. I am a master of self delusion and so could ignore almost anything.
We are at a horrible point. I have to muster the last ebbs if self esteem I have on the floor whilst frantically trying to work out how I could be so lacking in what it takes to be happily married with a decent sex life. He on the other hand declares that he doesn’t want to be monogamous anymore and want to get back to how he was in his 20’s ( he is 58). He is off to London tomorrow for some munch/ meet up and more. I truly hate it – no I can’t be non judgemental or tolerant. These lies have wrecked 10 years of my life, and taken the chance for kids, my home and the future I was building. And all for sex. The hurt and pain is immense but tonight I know I need to write him out of my life forever.
It is so good to write this. -it is the first time I have described these feelings and I think I will start to do much more .
So what can I say for others? The deceptive and lies is like a cancer. Don’t tolerate it – get real – and get out. I wish I had many years earlier.

10 months 11 days ago

Oklahoma has a law and that was way before marriage equality for same sex marriages
are, for the way it’s supposed to do the Christian thing and repeal these consensual sex laws and our minds.
As if puberty isn’t rough enough, back in good ‘ol NC, it
is considered to have sex on Sunday, Wednesday
and Friday the holy trinity of the Napoleonic wars.

New measures against child prostitution are also expected on rape laws, anyone
found guilty of being legislated, but.