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

Tue, Jun 8, 2010

Advice, Dear Em & Lo, Your Call

photo by Darth Fett

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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62 Responses to “Your Call – He’s Kinky, She’s Vanilla, Is the Relationship Doomed?”

  1. confused yet interested Says:

    Thank you all for the various ideas, thoughts and suggestions. I have just met an amazing man after years and years of dating losers. Its a fairly new relationship and he has opened up to me that he enjoys being a sub…I do not know if I am capable of inflicting the pain he desires but I’m willing to try slowly and see how things go. I hope this can work because he seems truly perfect for me….I just hope I can be perfect for him!!

  2. stay true to you... Says:

    I can tell you most assuredly that after 20 years of trying to get into, come around, being open minded and participating in BDSM because your partner digs it and you don’t is a huge mistake.

    We are at a place now where while I love him I am pissed at him a lot of the time because of “this”.

    We are in therapy now to work out all of this because this stuff seeps into other areas of your life.

    I have invested many years with this guy and am raising a family with children. The idea of divorce is just off the table for us. It’s so important to work this out.

    Are we having sex now? Nope. I just won’t comply and engage in BDSM anymore.

    It’s not my thing. I don’t like it. I hate it. I have never liked it — and for a long time I did it happily to please him. When I should have been true to myself.

    I’d say have an HONEST conversation – don’t do what I did. Don’t please him because you think you need to.

  3. Dom Says:

    If you’re vanilla and he’s not you will either both compromise or you will both be unhappy. I can tell you from personal experience if he can’t get what he needs (and believe me…it IS a NEED) from you he will get it elsewhere, no matter how much he loves you.

    My suggestion is to allow him to keep a sub outside of your relationship (or in it if you’re interested). That way he has an outlet for his kink and you can concentrate on more important aspects of the relationship.

  4. sally Says:

    Rarely will his need fade and you already admitted <>
    my thoughts here are that he may be satisfied with mental imagery, but from your words, I doubt it. You are uncomfortable and best advice is to open the door and maneuver through it before you get further entangled or hurt.

  5. Lockedup84 Says:

    I have always been into the kinky side of things. When me and my wife meet we had a lot of fun and conversations about weather she was into it or not. I enjoy subbing more so she wasn’t the one getting tied up and beat and stuff. But after we got married I started pushing for the attention (me and my first wife would switch) which she realized wasn’t what she thought. After some time and trials and near divorce she holds the keys to my chastity which is a good start.

    I said all this to say that if it is that big a thing for him and you can’t come to a agreement in for filling that part of his life it’s not worth it. The fact you came online to ask is a good indication you should break it off. If my wife wouldn’t of done something then I would I found it else where

  6. sara Says:

    I have known my husband for 9 years. We dated for about a year before getting engaged, and married a year after that. We have 2 children under 5. I knew about some of his BDSM interests when we were dating, but to me at that time they were just that; interests. I was in love, somewhat insecure and wanted to make a lasting relationship. So we experimented, and the result was that he wanted more and I didn’t want anything other than vanilla. Sadly, the truth of this has only come to light after years of marriage. If he tries to compromise his desires (this doesn’t happen often) and keep our sex life vanilla, he eventually gets frustrated and we have a huge fight. If I compromise and let him do the kinky tying up, power play, spanking, punishment stuff that he wants then I don’t enjoy the sex and feel really awful about myself afterward. It also makes me feel extremely resentful of him. I want ME to be enough. What ends up happening is we have no sex at all for long periods of time. If there were areas of overlap in our interests, then maybe that would help, but after all this time they are few and far between. Our relationship outside of the bedroom has suffered and we are to the point of living like roommates. When we do have sex, at least one of us ends up unhappy because we aren’t getting what we want. His interest has only deepened over time (or at least my knowledge of it has) and he now wants a 24/7/365 relationship of my submitting to him. Not just in the bedroom but in all aspects of life. I do not feel like my giving in to these demands will empower me in any way. I understand that there are people out there who have these relationships and both partners are completely happy. After 9 years of trying to get interested, I think its safe to say it won’t happen soon for me. I feel like I am objectified and not appreciated for being who I really am. And I feel extremely stuck in the relationship because we have children, he works and I stay at home, etc. I never imagined that my marriage might result in divorce and I believe that the work it takes to keep a marriage together is worth it. BUT we don’t have much left at this point, and it seems like neither of us is likely to change as much as would be needed. Do yourself a favor and don’t get in as deep as I did before you admit that there is a serious problem. It is no different than being incompatible in any other aspect, as some other posters have pointed out. It is better to open your eyes to the problem now. BTW if anyone has any advice for me I would really appreciate it. I feel like my love life is over at 31 and that is very depressing.

  7. AndySea Says:

    D/s relationships are a very amplified version of the sexual polarity that *usually* exists in intimate relationships anyway. The masculine partner in a vanilla relationship is still typically more assertive, conquering, and providing while the feminine is more acquiescent, feeling, and nurturing. It’s the interaction between these opposites that generates attraction as by their very natures they tend to seek each other out.
    Forgive me if I speak in generalities here. The world is full of all kinds and more power to us all. I’m generally speaking of the 80% or so of relationships between masculine (usually men) and feminine (usually women) partners. Also, there are egalitarian relationships of equals out there, but the sexual spark is never as strong; the attraction there has been established above the neck. And that’s great… if that’s your thing and all you need in life.
    But consider the similarities between vanilla and kinky folk:
    A Dominant, a good one -just like a good vanilla man (or whatever gender is the partner who generally takes the “masculine” roll)- is assertive, trustworthy, honest, attentive, caring, and focused on the needs of his partner. A good sub, just like a good vanilla “woman” (again, YMMV regarding gender) is yielding (generally-except when it’s time to push back a bit for good measure ;) ), a beautiful magnet for his desire, craving of the Dominant’s or “man’s” strength, conquest, and steadfastness.
    The “yen/yang,” opposites attract magic that happens here is something to be cherished. And the kink, or any other type of relationship for that matter, can happen or even strengthen the bonds of the relationship where trust is built and honored constantly. Hard limits should be respected and soft ones should be pushed in a measured way that simultaneously demonstrates the The Dominant’s power and his care, the two of which have earned “her” submission.

    Sorry for the essay on D/s vs vanilla sexual polarity, but I get a sense from your post that you’re giving kink very short shrift here, possibly holding it at arms length. Clearly going into a committed relationship involving marriage and a family is a bad idea if it’s something you just can’t work out. But ask yourself: Is he a good man? Is he’ just another instance of bad choices on your part? Does he truly understand and can he demonstrate his responsibility to care for you in your submission? And can YOU – this will heavily depend upon how you answered the questions above – trust him enough to truly and openly submit?
    Leave no topic undiscussed between you. Be clear on all your understandings of hard/soft limits, safe words, etc… and how your interaction will take shape. But I think you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t do some exploring and experimenting and see what power and beauty a D/s or BDSM relationship might have to offer.

  8. nancy Says:

    These are interesting and helpful comments. I have been married for 17 years and recently discovered my husband’s infidelity. He started with a porn addiction which affected our sex life negatively and now is in pretty deep in the BDSM world–of course never communicating to me about his desires. I knew something was “up” for about six months, and then started having him followed. Such a sad way for me to discover his alternative lifestyle. I had to have answers for his behavior and mood changes so I am not really sorry I did the surveillance thing. His personality changed in a negative way I might add. He became very disengaged from our children and myself. Irritable, self-centered and defensive about any kind of inquiries about his life. (I realize these are behaviors that anyone would demonstrate if having an affair). After I confronted him about his activities, we had huge communication sessions about what led up to this. We love each other dearly and have three wonderful children who deserve both parents in a loving household. It probably won’t be possible to continue with our relationship. He cries and says he wants a committed, loving, monogamous relationship with me, but knows in his heart the BDSD charge is very strong and admits it will be next to impossible to maintain fidelity in our marriage. I am sick about this, but don’t have an answer for any of it. I was sexually, emotionally, and verbally abused much of my childhood by an abusive stepfather. My mother was an extremely submissive person who “looked the other way” and accused me of lying when I would complain. I have worked extraordinarily hard to overcome the scars and damage from this. I am proud of myself for who I have become. I look for the light and positive in everything I do. My life is devoted to helping other people. BDSM has cast a very dark shadow over my children, my marriage and my future. Yes, I did try and be open to my husband and play the “sub role”. It sucked. Sorry, I don’t want to be spanked, tied up and blindfolded. I don’t want my husband to stick his penis in my mouth when I am in a vulnerable position. Doesn’t do it for me. I am not excited by the “confusion” that BDSM brings into the complicated division of “power” between a man and a wife. So, we will be divorcing soon. It is a no-win situation. My husband cries every day and says he knows he will not find happiness with a sub, but he is “just in too deep”. I have a hunch he is not going to make BDSM a lifetime commitment. I am looking forward to getting out of this mess and begin a life either on my own or with someone who will love me in a way that shares gentleness, warmth, care light and love. I want my children to experience what a relationship looks like from that perspective. I always wonder if people that are so enthusiastic about BDSM would want their children involved with this. Would you really want your daughter being a sex slave or sub to a dom? Would you want your son whipping his wife? Not me. Life is so full of wonderful things that include kindness and gentleness. I have walked both sides of the fence and there is nothing to me more exciting than a gentle caress, a supportive hug, a loving gaze, a meeting of the eyes while love-making, my husband’s head on my breasts, an equal say in decisions involving the household etc. It is not a boring vanilla lifestyle to experience these things, I promise you. Thanks for letting me vent.

  9. NonBDSMSexisHardlyVanilla Says:

    Bravo, Nancy, for conveying the reality of the deeply meaningful, pleasurable and beautiful aspects of sex without BDSM. I am sorry that your husband stumbled into this and the very negative impact it’s had on your marriage. Personally I do not buy the concept that the majority of people into BDSM were just wired that way. Sorry‚Ķ it has so many qualities similar to addiction, including the “endorphin” rush of pain that gives the amped up orgasms which is called “sub space” or “top space” or “floating” etc‚Ķ and then there’s “bottom”ing afterwards needing “aftercare.” And, much as the folk into it say you need great communication, trust, and the sub is the one with the “power”, it simply seems like you are hiding behind roles and engaged in “play scenes” instead of the real beauty, creativity of “unscripted” non-BDSM sexual intimacy. Sure‚Ķ maybe the intensity of orgasm is heightened with BDSM, yet, no one talks about the real negative impact of BDSM on the individual (emotional, physical, etc) and on the couple where one person has “dabbled” into it and then is “in deep.” And, honestly, are we that self-centered a society that we have to get our fix come hell or high water? Yet, as the article so aptly suggests, if a person is then really into BDSM– AND not willing to consider re-learning the incredibly powerful and beautiful, pleasurable and intimacy-enhancing aspect of non-BDSM sex– then yes, that person will continue to fill unfulfilled sexually. What a shame our society is basically turned a blind eye to any discussions on how BDSM is possibly harming people’s sexuality (especially with it being so ubiquitous on the internet such that younger people (16-26) whose brains are still developing,‚Ķ now their brains will only be able to get off on BDSM sex. Now that is a very sad thought indeed).

  10. NonBDSMSexisHardlyVanilla Says:

    Pardon spelling/grammar errors‚Ķ towards the end of my comment, should have read “then yes, that person will continue to feel unfulfilled sexually. What a shame our society is basically turning a blind eye‚Ķ” Otherwise the my reflections are accurately conveyed.

  11. Ditto Says:

    I’m going through the same thing with my guy. He’s the nicest most sweetest attentive guy. We get along great and share so many interests. We’ve been together for 4 months and have not really had sex yet :/ I think he’s afraid of scaring me away. What little I’ve experienced with him choking me has been scary. I don’t think he’s even capable of having vanilla sex anymore he’s been living that lifestyle for so long. He’s highly sexual, so I strongly suspect he has been finding it elsewhere already :/ Eventhough I he’s very sexually attracted to me, he can’t seem to have actual sex with me.

    I did a Google search to see how others are handling it. I think as much as we like each other we are going to have to split up.

  12. blah blah blacksheep Says:

    Money, sex & kids are the 3 make-or-break things in every relationship. A spender will have a hard time being with a saver. Two dominants or two submissives will have a hard time getting along in the bedroom. A breeder with a non-breeder usually won’t work out. And … a vanilla will have a hard time being with a bdsm’er.

    If you are not happy in all 3 of those major cateogries (money, sex, kids/ parenting style) then there will be major clashes and it won’t last.

    It’s better to break it off early, amicably.

    Find someone else you click with on those 3 things. Everything else you get along on is just icing on the cake.


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