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

  1. Paul Says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s doomed…yet.

    I think it definitely shows a fundamental difference in one of the most important aspects of a relationship. So I would think it needs to be addressed head on and early before you get to deep and it becomes very difficult and complicated for both of you.

    I’d recommend talking to him about it and see what he likes about that “flavor” of sexual relationship. Maybe hearing him explain it to you will help you understand it and him a little more. You might not want to jump in full force, but maybe you could try a few things you do feel comfortable with and see how it goes.

    But, I would say after talking with him and you still feel uncomfortable then it’s probably best you guys part ways. To have a disconnect on that level I think would slowly spread throughout the entire relationship over time. That is, unless you can allow him to fulfill those desires apart from you (whatever that would mean), which probably wouldn’t bode well with you.

    I think in order to travel down that rode [you] need to be either very detached or very secure. Secure being the more healthy I imagine, and cultivating that kind of security takes time.

    Paul

  2. Johnny Says:

    You wrote, “I can’t imagine enjoying anything about it…”

    I take that to mean you haven’t tried this out. Perhaps you could entertain a softer-core S&M session, just to see what it’s like and to satisfy your partner? Like, no pain, no humiliation… maybe just soft fuzzy cuffs and/or a blindfold?

    But maybe the answer to that is no. Maybe you just absolutely definitely don’t want anything to do with it. In that case yes. Your relationship is doomed.

  3. Amanda Says:

    I have a guy friend in this situation. He is kinky, she is not. His experience makes me think you are probably a bit doomed.
    I asked him as a fellow kinkster how vanilla was working out for him. Initially he thought it was fine he could give that up for a great girl, but it slowly wore on him. When she wanted to spice things up, his ideas were not well received to say the least. She had zero interest in his kinks.

    So instead he substitutes with among other things a secret online personal ad (that says he is single btw) he checks daily. It’s good that you are ok with his porn, but it can move beyond that and he will keep it from you.

    Also, as someone who is into BDSM (but by no means a die hard) I will tell you those fantasies & desires never go away. Mine ebb & flow, but the idea of never being able to indulge that part of my sexuality again? That would be hell. You don’t mention your/his age. However if he has engaged in bdsm in person (ie – not just online or porn) I can tell you it’s not something that is going to go away for him. Consequently the elephant isn’t going away.

    If kink or anything else in your sexual relationship is already causing a disconnect it’s probably doomed. Sexual chemistry is what makes a relationship not just a friendship. So what happens when you are a year in? or two? when all that stupidly happy newness wears off. Are you guys really going to be able to (pardon the cliche) keep things hot in the bedroom if you can’t even agree on what’s hot?

  4. Spes Says:

    Friendship, not sex, is what keeps a relationship strong for 50+ years. Also, sometimes, though rarely, those kinks do go away, but not because they’re being denied or repressed, it’s an internal issue. I found myself in the awkward position of having the man who awoke my love of kink suddenly lose his interest in it. And when one loves to sub, it’ just plain weird to suddenly have to take the upper hand.
    I agree with Paul and Johnny, talk to you S.O., consider some super soft BDSM play, and do just that play! Run naked giggling around the house and then let him catch you and put some loose fluffy cuffs around you wrists. Remember that dominating has everything to do with power play, so just the satisfaction that he knows precisely how make you squirm with pleasure may be enough in and of itself for him. Doms don’t just humiliate and beat their partners, many also love to toy with their partners through pleasure not pain. And bear in mind this: in BDSM the sub is really the one with the true power; they ultimately determine and set the boundaries of the dom. At their word (or other signal) they have the power to stop everything cold.

  5. BJB Says:

    My dear Vanilla, Oh how I know how you feel. Or at least somewhat. I myself am a product of past events in my life that now affect my present & future. Those events being raped at age 16 and molested by an uncle in my youngest of years. That being said my biggest hangup you could say was something as easy as a blowjob, even if it was with a man that I was or am in love with.

    What I have found is that the more they harped me on “their needs” of this sort of thing, the more I felt the same manipulative feelings that I have tried for so long to get over. You cant get over it, you can try to forget, but it is always there in that little space in the back of your mind.

    So what I have done, is basically tell any of the men that were previously in my life or currently (my current boyfriend) that I know and I am fully aware of their wants and “Needs”, BUT they also need to be fully aware of my past. And by them putting pressure on me about what they think they need/want so badly, they are not thinking about anyone but themselves. So in the end when it comes to a blowjob…I do it on my own terms and when I am comfortable with it as well. It may not be everyday or even every week, but I do make an effort. As long as they keep in mind the emotional turmoil I went thru as a child & teen, and fully understand what that has done to me – then they might deserve that extra treat to fulfill their desires.

    Another solution is to possibly come up with a safe word. And tell him what you have gone thru. If you are honest with him, that right there might bring you closer than anything sexually would. And maybe he has never had anyone go thru anything like that before that it was ever an issue.

    I know my past has definitely influenced the sexual appetite I have today in a perverse odd way, thats not saying its good or bad, Just Odd.

  6. Jen Says:

    Spes brings up a very good point that subs often control the way that things go, as a good, sane dom is at least as responsive to their partner’s needs as a typical vanilla lover. You may also be over-estimating the effect of some BDSM play…as Dan Savage says, for most people it’s ‘playing cops and robbers with your clothes off’, and for a lot of people, it is very much just play.

    You certainly have good and valid reasons for not wanting to explore this kink, and you should not feel guilty about having them. As to what it means for the future of your relationship, as everyone else has pointed out, it could be a major problem. It is very difficult for someone who has very clearly defined kinks to face going without them for a long period of time, regardless of how much they might love their vanilla partner. Is it possible that you could talk to him about ways that he could satisfy this kink within whatever boundaries the two of you find acceptable for you as a couple? Some couples manage to have a great relationship when one person can act out their kinks away from the other, or perhaps you can find ways to do it together which don’t bother you- attend dungeon parties together where you don’t have to participate in the play except in encouraging him to watch, verbally participate etc.

    Not all couples can or want to go that way, but if you really care about each other and just can’t find a way around this issues, it might be worth exploring.

    I’m sorry for what you’ve been through, and I hope that you can work it out. If nothing else, tell him that you are afraid that he is all of a sudden going to do something that makes you uncomfortable, and why.

  7. ddvv Says:

    Sex is an important part of a relationship – just like friendship, trust, spiritual values, moral ideologies, etc. It would be difficult to be in a relationship with a person who’s fundamentally different from you morally. It would be difficult if your money habits are very different. In the same way, differences in sexual tastes do pose a challenge in the relationship.

    The question is how much the relationship is worth to both of you. Is your vanilla attitude important enough to him to tone down his kinkiness? Is his desire to experiment important enough to you for you to try it in small doses?

    Just like any other fundamental difference, this needs to be addressed. And getting serious in a relationship requires moving out of your comfort zone in some areas. Decide how much each of you are willing to budge. If you’re both willing to try each other’s worlds, do it with respect and trust – in the same way that you would address a big difference in any other aspect of your relationship.

  8. Jennifer Says:

    I think the only way this can be solved/saved is if you go nonmonogamous and let him get his kink needs solved elsewhere. That way you don’t have to participate (and don’t feel forced to in order to keep him), and he doesn’t feel neglected/pissed/frustrated/whatever because he can only get it from you and you don’t want to.

    Yeah, 99% of the population, probably including you, would not be okay with this. But hell, it worked for me.

  9. Colleen Says:

    Simple. Sit him down and make him read this. It seems to me that you haven’t had the entire conversation with him, and if you intend to continue a relationship, you’re going to need to have it anyways. In fact, for a real relationship, you’re going to need to tell him a lot more than this, so if he doesn’t know everything that we do now, you’re missing information. Why don’t you ask HIM if this relationship will work?

  10. Delilah Says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen many relationships fall apart because of this very issue. If his need for kink is as strong as you think, then maybe you should try something mild as others have suggested.

    He is being “vanilla” for you right now, but this fetish will resurface and cause problems later. It always does. Plus, you will always know that you are not satisfying him completely, which will make you insecure in the relationship. He has given you fair warning already.

  11. Tony Says:

    This guy certainly doesn’t sound like ‘Mr. Right’; at least for you. My opinion is that you are vulnerable to being hurt in more ways than one. I suggest you end it and do it sooner rather than later.

  12. Casimir Says:

    Relationships, even the best-seeming ones, are hard. So much so, that without any other information at all, my response to “Is my relationship doomed?” defaults to “probably.” It probably is, even without any kink/vanilla incompatibilities. Spes made a comment above, bringing up a good point that friendship is what keeps things going. A common theme with the vast majority of the healthy (whatever that means) relationships I have enjoyed / observed is communication. Open, honest communication. If this is a big deal, the best advice I have would be to talk about it. Maybe you’ll compromise (trying a “softer” scene as recommended above) and realize you actually CAN get into some of this. Maybe you’ll try it out and hate it. Maybe you are firmly against trying anything else out. Whatever the case may be, talk it through. Once you’re both clear on the issue, then you can decide what the next steps are-whether it be breaking up, just being friends, being friends with occasional vanilla sexual play, or sticking through some sort of relationship. Talk about it. Don’t guess at what he’s thinking.

    Is the relationship doomed? Probably.

  13. Jess Says:

    Perhaps you would feel more comfortable if you were the one spanking him or tying him up?? Then you would be in control of the situation and it would not feel scary to you. If you can see yourself as a dominatrix, then it might work for him too. You should talk to him about your feelings and fears. Also, I think that if your past is still generally hurting you and affecting you in a negative way that you should consider trauma counseling. Good luck.

  14. Madamoiselle L Says:

    He’s made it clear that hard core BDSM is “a significant part of his sexuality.” YOU have made it clear that that is NEVER gonna work for you. You have mentioned not just spankings, but, “violent” spankings, “Extreme Bondage” (Whatever that is) and other things you seem turned off by and even frightened with thinking about.

    It doesn’t mean he’s wrong, or that you are, just that the two of you are on completely different pages, sexually. He didn’t say, “I like a little light bondage and mild humiliation with my sex, but I don’t need it.” He said it was “a integral part” of who is is.

    You seem to think that BDSM is about “being scared” (and it isn’t, in fact, the Bottom has most of the control in most S/D relationships, and if done right, there is NO fear, but you have to BE that person who want that, but that’s an other page) and you don’t seem to get what he’s about either.

    He’s keeping it totally vanilla for you, for now, but if that what does it for him, eventually, he WILL get bored. And, you will get either tired of hearing about it, or get tired of fending off his “suggestions.”

    Sexual compatibility is SO important. If this is his thing, his complete thing, and HIS thing is something you can’t even think about without feeling ill HOW is this going to work? He’s NOT going to stop wanting hard core, and I don’t see you wanting it ever. Both of you are compromising, in a way that isn’t sustainable, won’t last and will not turn out for the better for either of you, not to mention both of you.

    My opinion? Get this over with and move on before someone gets hurt or falls in love and both of you are left wanting. IMO, this is not a “fixable” situation.

    You may also need to think about WHY you let yourself fall for a man who is lives a Lifestyle which is exactly what you are most frightened of.

  15. Catie Says:

    “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. ”

    Almost all practitioners of BDSM follow the “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” credo. Based on how he has acted thus far, I think it would be unlikely that he’d break that and try to force you to engage in any sort of activity that would make you uncomfortable.

    One of the most fundamental precepts of BDSM, as I understand it, is mutual communication about what both partners are comfortable with. I was in the same position as you are about two years ago: a guy with whom I was very interested in starting a relationship was completely honest about his interests in bondage. I, like you, was completely terrified of the prospect of being with someone who wanted to sexually subjugate me. I chickened out, but some time later, I got a second chance to be with him, and took it; a year later, I am still with him and couldn’t be happier. I do participate in BDSM with him, because of the sense of mutual trust and safety that we have created through extensive communication. That said, if you don’t feel that you’ll ever be able to be fully honest with this guy, and able to trust him, you will never reach a state of sexual compatibility. Do you really want to be with someone of whom you are afraid?

  16. Black Iris Says:

    I would run the other way from a guy who was into BD/SM. I think she needs to talk to him about it and probably break up with him.
    I absolutely, positively, do not think she should try being kinky. Given her history, she could make herself completely frigid. But I also think she shouldn’t have to justify her preferences by saying she had a history of abuse. Nobody should ever feel weird saying that they don’t want to and will never, ever want to try being slapped or humiliated. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.

  17. Jane Says:

    I was in a similar situation with my boyfriend of 2.5 years who I broke up with last year. When it comes down to it, if one person looks at sex as a way to emotionally bond, while the other looks at it as a way to act out his/her desires, it’s just going to be difficult. It was difficult for me to separate the man who called me slut and begged me to use nipple clamps in the bedroom from the man he was in his day to day life. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized that I use sex to connect with another person, and I couldn’t compromise on something that was so important for me.

    If it’s important to you to have more run-of-the-mill sex (and that’s TOTALLY ok!), don’t tolerate someone degrading you in the bedroom. It will just make you resent him more outside of the bedroom.

  18. anathema Says:

    @Jane. Um . . . wow. We are all entitled to our own experiences, and I certainly get that *for you* kinky sex with this person was not communication. But it seems a bit much to extrapolate from your one experience to all of human endeavor.

    Human experience is rich and varied. What works for me doesn’t have to work for you. But to posit that indulging ones desires and building an emotional connection are polar opposites? That’s just . . . odd to me. That implies that when one is building a connection, one is not fulfilling desires. And that just sounds counterintuitive and a little sad. I want the filthy perverted sex *and* the emotional bonding, and don’t think I’d be too happy in a relationship where I had to choose one or the other.

  19. Janet Says:

    The answer is Yes, you should break up with him. The two of you are not right for one another, and if you don’t break up with him, he will with you, probably sooner than later.
    He will not change, and you will become increasingly unhappy with one another. Face the unfortunate truth and meet someone else you can be truly happy with. Not this guy.

  20. Madamoiselle L Says:

    amathema, you make a very good point. For the OP and for Jane and some others, seeing a D/S relationship in the bedroom and a connection between the partners in said relationship emotionally is impossible. For them it won’t work whether due to unresolved abuse issues, actual abuse in the current relationship or simple personal preferences.

    I agree with you, however, than some of us can have a sometimes (or always) “Kinky” side to our relationship sex and still have a very very deep connection with our lover. Respect and D/S activities are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, in most healthy animated exploitative sexual relationships, respect has to be there IN ORDER for the “kink” to be accepted. In most D/S relationships (meaning “Dominant/Submissive” as opposed to the more judgmental “Sado/Masochistic”) the TRUST is so deep in order for the activities to take place and for the members of the couple to feel SAFE and often the trust becomes even deeper, when one knows one’s lover is ‘that close’ to the edge and still can respect, love and honor you, and you can do the same with him/her.

    I don’t think people who haven’t explored this variation of sexual play are going to understand, and I guess that’s OK. A D/S sexual relationship or even mild D/S play is certianly NOT for everyone. One has to have one’s head on straight, one has to trust one’s partner and the partner has to be the same. One also has to desire these activities and know how to participate in them in a safe sane manner. (Although to Outsiders, it may not appear safe or sane, it certainly can be, and IMO SHOULD be.)

    I understand why some people don’t want kink in their sex lives and that’s perfectly OK, but I think if D/S activities are an important part of someone’s Love Map (as Kinsey called the complicated web of what turns you on and keeps you turned on) exclusively “Vanilla Sex” is not going to keep them happy, and if someone wants nothing to do with D/S activities, then even contemplating these activities may make then not only resentful, but scared and even physically ill. D/S is simply not for these people. Although, it is healthy for many of us, someone who has these reactions to is wouldn’t be healthy if participating either emotionally against their actual will, or not understanding WHAT D/S is about.

    There are all kinds of sexual styles and the way I see it, a hard core D/S aficionado and a vanilla lover will no longer make it together than a relationship where one partner is GLBT (and trying to suppress it) and gets involved with a Hetero person of the opposite sex.

    There’s nothing “wrong” with D/S play, nor is there anything “wrong” with vanilla leanings, but the two don’t usually work together. Both partners eventually start wanting then needing something else, resentment builds, and honestly, if the OP thinks her partner may do something to “scare” her, she is simply in the wrong relationship.

    I hope they can both find people whose sexual Love Maps are more in tune with what works for them.

  21. Blysse Says:

    I’m going through the same thing with my lover. What started out as me trying to be open and adventurous in trying out his kink came to a screeching halt just this past weekend when we went to an all-kink/all-the-time weekend together. The scene in the dungeon made my flesh crawl and I felt like I’d suddenly descended to the 7th layer of hell. I didn’t even realize the extent of my cognitive dissonance over this, just knew that I was becoming increasingly tense and fearful anytime we started to become intimate. The problem is, we’re great friends, totally in sync in the default setting, really enjoy each others’ company. But I can’t go there and he wants to live there.

    Soooo, we’ve opened up the relationship, and we’ll see how that goes. But I have to say that I’m not confident that we’ll last longer than a few more months. We have commitments we’ve made, artwork we’re collaborating on, but once it’s delivered, I’m thinking we’ll both just sort of lose interest and move on. Needless to say, I’ve put my heart back in its hard shell so as to prevent further knocks. *sigh*

  22. crow Says:

    For me, “kink” is much more than sex or desire. It IS a way of communicating that is part of the fundamental conversation between me and my lover. It is as much a part of my core identity as my bisexuality is. People can make loving relationships with all sorts of “non-compatible” sexualities between them, but one can also build incredible emotional intimacy through all kinds of sexual behaviour.

  23. Frida Says:

    Wow, this story is exactly like mine, only I spent 7 wonderful years with my man before realizing that his passivity in bed is because he is actually a sub and craves to be dominated, bonded, and whipped. I love him with all my heart, but am completely vanilla, and although I absolutely support different sexual preferences I just don’t see anything arousing in being a dominatrix (no negative past experiences – I am just so). He knew that, and he was keeping his real needs away from me all these years because a) he didn’t want to make me feel obliged to do stuff I don’t like and b) it wouldn’t be fun for him if he new I was only pretending.

    All this I’ve found out only when our relationship broke – after I cheated on him with another guy. I really didn’t mean to, but somehow it happened and I suddenly realized everything I’ve been missing in bed for so long: the connection, the feeling that I am enough for the other person, that he is not somewhere else in his thoughts. I am ashamed of myself for leaving my beloved partner for what is essentially ‘just a sex problem’, and some of my friends can’t understand that. But I don’t know what else to do – although I love my ex dearly, and we have wonderful connection on all other levels, can we pretend this can all work out without a true connection in bed?

    Anyhow, based on my experience so far: it’s probably doomed. But I would appreciate other opinions. Vanilla Girl, what did you do at the end?

  24. K Says:

    Hi
    Just found out my husband of 8 years has been cheating for 6 of them with various dommes. The last one he fell in love with and screwed him for a load of cash. He started off with porn, then bdsm porn then eventually the real thing. During our marriage we tried ‘light bdsm- handcuffs, cropsm blindfolds etc’ but he wasn’t interested – guess by then he had got too used to the real thing. He’s now in therapy for sex addiction as this is just one of his ways of acting out and my marriage has been revealed as a sham ( he was into bdsm porn before I met him but never told me)

    My advice, get out now while you’re safe and sane
    K

  25. Leah Says:

    I just recently got into the same situation and I agree that things need to be established early on in a new BDSM relationship no matter what type it may be. Expectations, roles, and rules need to be taken into consideration so both can agree on terms of the relationship when exploring boundaries.Talk things out and don’t flip out and assume something about your partner always take their feelings and beliefs into consideration if u can bare to in some cases if you love them you will overcome them if not then it may not be the right BDSM relationship or partner for you. Goodluck and Hope my relationship blossoms into a wonderful thing. BDSM relationships can last a long time and have benefits that traditional benefits lack in assuring trust respect and honesty.

  26. Rayblondie Says:

    I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage but the scenario is the same as my marriage. My wife is vanilla I am not. However I don’t think any punishment or domination is right, but spanking works a treat as foreplay and it’s something I ask for which adds the spice for me. After twenty years she says she is switched on by seeing me switched on so it can work.

  27. Louise Says:

    I was in exactly the same situation. My partner told me from the off that he was really into sM sex and relationships. As a very innocent girl I was really scared but stuck around because I loved him. Over time I was willing to try some things (like spanking, verbal power-play, tying up and eventually asphyxiation). All the while I thought I was doing it only because he liked it, but I DID cum pretty hard from some of it and started to ask for it.

    I’m now with someone else and have discovered that I don’t like vanilla anywhere near as much as I enjoyed mild sM activities. I really regret the barrier I put up with my first boyfriend because it caused the break up of our relationship.

    I understand that you have valid reasons, but from experience I would say to try some of the things he is suggesting on as mild a scale as possible. You might find you like it.

  28. Xena Says:

    I realize this post is very old, but someone in similar situations might find it and read the insight of those who responded.
    I don’t know what the OP did, but I will throw in my two cents on things.

    The LESS likely scenario is that the vanilla partner will have bsdm needs awoken in them with time. But I would not bet on that scenario. The other very important thing to note is that even people into bdsm can be at very different stages at different times. Someone just starting out might never DREAM that they will grow to love and even crave certain activities that they actually will down the line. So someone seasoned and the kinds of things they are into might scare them off and they would not even understand why those things are craved, EVEN if they are later wired to get into it.

    The much much MUCH more likely scenario is that the vanilla partner will grow to maybe enjoy a few mild bdsm centered activities but not need or crave or even tolerate more than that. Meanwhile the one into heavy bdsm – just the fact that they are into heavy bdsm to begin with already means it is NOT gonna go away. In fact they are eventually going to be frustrated with unmet needs and start seeking outlets – often behind the back of their vanilla partner.

    If a vanilla person finds themself in the situation of the poster, hedge your bets on scenario two, and END the relationship before you both get much more emotionally vested, get married, have kids and then inevitably face a MUCH greater issue down the line when you discover your partner is cheating on you. The risk here is GREAT.

    Yes, there is a tiny chance that one day you might grow to appreciate and need his needs and then regret breaking it off. But honestly, the chance is so tiny that its not worth considering and even if it happens, you can fully excuse your decision to flee with the very big fact that you were not ready for that kind of badm intensity at THAT stage of your life. The pain suffered will be SIGNIFICANTLY less than if you stay in the relationship and grow it into a HUGE problem later.
    This is one scenario in which love does NOT conquer all.

  29. Jen Says:

    I am just recently out of this same exact situation. I dated my boyfriend for 4.5 years and discovered he was a Sub. He speaking to dom’s and engaging in internet sexual activity on a bdsm site..(sending nude photo’s to dom’s etc). I had strange feelings and found his registration in a secret email account. My heart sunk. I was able to read all his emails. I confronted him and he had no idea what to say. He tried to convince me that he could forget about BDSM. But I knew this was a big part of who he was. We talked about why he liked it etc. It took a LOT for him to open up about it. He struggled with feeling ashamed. He was in law enforcement and felt tired of always being dominant and in control. For him being a sub was a release from everyday life. It makes sense to me.

    I tried some mild BDSM things with him to be supportive and have an open mind but deep down I felt disapointed and weirded out. I wasn’t happy pretending to like this new role. I also felt a lack of trust because he had gone behind my back and in my opinion “cheated”. When we first started dating I had just gotten out of another 4.5 year relationship and felt dispointed because I had hoped to be married and starting a family already..I think I started to focus more on wanting to get married then I did on my compatibility with the new guy.

    We dated 4.5 years and it was in the last 8 months I discovered his fondness for BDSM. Among other things I felt unhappy with where we were living, the lack of a job market there, lack of being in a city etc. It seemed like a no brainer. He begged and pleaded and said everything he coulf to try to convince me we could fix this but I just felt it wasn’t true. I know he loves me. But I think he was definitly having an internal struggle. I support and love him but I know who I am. I am vanilla. I feel that I gave it the benefit of the doubt by trying some of it (I even used a strap on).. oh jeez my stomach turns as I think about that. Anyway, I gave it a try because I felt bad that he felt like such an outcast and because I loved him. But this stuff BDSM is just not me. He was a great guy for the most part.

    Here I am 29 and feeling bummed about this whole thing. But I am feeling comfort in reading a lot of this feedback here. Thank you to everyone who shared here. I came to this website because I wondered the same thing the poster did..Is a relationship really doomed if one person if vanilla and the other kink? I knew the answer but needed reassurance. It is just one of those days for me..and I miss him..But I know i’ve made the right decision. I hope that he finds happiness and makes peace with who he is.

  30. Cami Says:

    I am vanilla my husband into soft bdsm. I have tried it but feel disconnected emotionally, like im acting in sex and he doesnt really want ME. Even though he says its very connecting to do that. We are at a point after 18 years where the only option seems to try having him have outside sub relationships with

    In earlier years I might have left sooner, but we truly love each other and have much going in other ways. We are going to a therapist to work on communication issues (which ave at least in part, manifested due to resentment about getting our needs met). I’m personally hoping with increased communication, more trust and emotional intimacy, I might be able to adopt enough of the play – without it feeling fake – that could satisfy him.

    Footnote – has always participated in self-bdsm – he’s not very social. He says he just needs the domination and its not about sex. Is this really possible? Does bdsm necessarily have to involve sex? Have others been able to approach it this way?

    I am 59. After so many years together (no kids) with care, love and friendship – breaking up seems very hard to do and if this can work, I’d like give it a shot. But am I just fighting the inevitable with this open lifestyle? Will this inevitably lead somewhere else emotionally for him? I want him to be happy bdon’t also don’t want to drag through years more of hurt either. I need sex with emotional connection, and I’m hoping therapy combined with an outlet for now might work … Thoughts?

  31. Gigi Says:

    I was in an almost 2 year relationship with a very loving boyfriend. I was aware of his fondness for BDSM, but had no idea how strong his need to be submissive was. When we broke up for a couple of months, he met a woman who is a Dom, as well as very successful and intellectual. He and I got back together at one point, and I was more than willing to try things kinkier than my normal ‘vanilla’ self, but I think that he could sense my hesitation. Not long after we got back together, things went South and he ended up leaving me for her. I am beyond devastated abd am finding it difficult to love forward, as I loved him more than anything, but I realize that this fundamental sexual difference between us was too large. Love did not conquer all.

  32. Camilla Says:

    I’ve been in a 5 year relationship with someone who is a submissive. Unfortunately as much as there is love and respect in the relationship and even with all my efforts in trying out various kinky things, I think we’re pretty much heading for a break up. I liked the kinky stuff but he just wanted much more extreme humiliation and there was only so much I could do. At the back of my mind, I always felt the relationship was doomed even though he tried to reassure me many times. It’s really, really hard and I really feel for the women who have been in the same situation. It’s a feeling of never being enough for someone that really gets me.
    Relationships like this should come with a warning. Experimental sex life is fine but a constant compulsion for harder stuff needs to be avoided if you’re not into it.
    Also you have to be careful if you’ve suffered abuse before, I had just come out of an abusive relationship and when I was trying out things with my submissive boyfriend, it would freak me out if we went too fast.
    Next time I meet someone I will be asking the question about whether they are into BDSM (probably on the first date)

  33. jay Says:

    Thank you everyone for you thoughts here, I have been going though this for a long time now. my husband and I have been together for 13 years. the first 5 we were ok, and sex was ok although never really great. but we had so many other things going for us that I over looked it. after 5 years he started to let me know how much he wanted to be a sub. I tried this, many times and all it made me feel was bored and stressed. trying to be a dom when your heart is not in it, is very stressfull. I told him many times that I really didnt enjoy any of this, but he couldnt or wouldnt hear me. This was his dream I guess. after a few years of this I just gave up and stop trying. now I feel disconnected with him sexually. even when he tries to please me, I feel he is faking it. right now I am at a crossroad. leave my husband because I am not sexually satified or continue to live without. I love him and in many ways he is a good husband, but the sex was never good and now its a chore for me like doing dishes. I have always enjoyed sex and even a little spice but now Im completely cold. This is breaking my heart just writing it. I cant talk to anyone about it, but I dont even look at him the same now.

  34. BB Says:

    I’ve been reading all of these responses. I’ve been married for 13 years. I have always suspicioned that my husband had a “dark side” but it had never been addressed. Enter the 50 Shades of Grey series….I read the books and the more I read the more I realized that he could very well be “that guy.” He has always wanted me to dress up in various costumes but I never felt comfortable with that. It makes me feel like he wants me to be someone that I am not. Within the last six months he has admitted to me that he is a sadist and has been in a BDSM relationship in the past. He has purchased crops, whips, a cat of nine tails, ball gags, blindfolds, wrist and ankle braces, has all sorts of cords and ropes for bondage. I’ve tried a few things and have ended up feeling humiliated and left with some bruises. Honestly I don’t trust him in this area. When he gets into that “zone” it’s like he becomes another person. We are currently seperated, not just because of this issue but others as well. I’m not totally vanilla but I am certainly not into things to the extreme that he is. I feel like it’s not fair of him to ask me to do things I’m uncomfortable with, on the other hand it’s not fair of me to ask him to do without something that he seems to enjoy. I guess I just don’t understand why it took 13 years for him to show this side of himself to me, or maybe it was there all along and I just didn’t see it, or didn’t want to see it. I don’t want to see my marriage end, we

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  36. BCofUIMhere Says:

    You are by no means the only woman in the world without rape fantasies. If BDSM is his primary outlet and it’s not yours, it’s better to end it amicably and each of you get your needs met with other partners. Because if you are, as you put it, not the girl for him, then he is also not the guy for you.

  37. Justsofrustrated! Says:

    It’s fascinating to read so many responses from people who are just not interested in variation in their sex lives! I am up for ANYTHING my lover might suggest, not just BDSM or DS (reversed roles would be fine!), or licking whipped cream off her kneecaps…..whatever! ALL sex between people who love each other is emotional fulfilment! Vanilla sex is great, I might not enjoy certain positions that are demanded of me all that much ( especially the semi-missionary, weird angle to the right thing, that while giving my lover intense pleasure, is akin to doing one handed push ups for me!) , but ultimately, my real pleasure is in giving pleasure! I have dominanant fantasies, but the torture I envisage is not inflicting pain (although a light smack on the butt at the right time can cause some intensely pleasurable reactions!)but in stimulating my poor helpless subject to the edge of climax over and over again to the point of her begging for release…..and then letting her have it!I myself enjoy, occasionally, being denied for days,then finally being “allowed” relief, teased, let us say, to the point of insanity….being “forced” to pleasure her with no reward!For days!Yay!
    The point I’m trying to make here (and I could go on and on with a myriad of variations) is that sex can be FUN, people! It’s playtime for adults, and the more FUN you have with your partner, the more you enjoy being with them and the happier you are all round!
    And yet I find myself with a vanilla lover, constantly craving sex that is “emotional fulfilment and reaffirmation and closeness and security and romance” which is fine,like I said, I’m up for anything and I can enjoy being that lover. But I see this attitude throughout so many of the posts above,an attitude that if sex is somehow dressed up, or role played or involves having fantasies acted out, then it’s just not love!And the sheer meanness of a lover whose attitude is “we are going to do it my way or not at all”…..how is that love? Haven’t you ever gone to the movies to see a show that you thought was the crappest show on earth just because your lover wanted to see it? Haven’t you ever gone to the work function/Christmas party from hell, or sat through the visit to old Aunt Whatshername or a myriad of other tortures….shopping for instance? Yes the experience is harrowing at the time, but isn’t the aftermath wonderful? You can see how much your lover has appreciated what you have done for them, and in all these shared experiences is LOVE……why then is the bedroom (or wherever!) suddenly this different ball game? Why isn’t the reaction “the poor bastard sat through Aunt Whatsisname for 6 hours, I’m going to take him home and smack his butt all night cos that’s what HE’D like”? (for example ha ha!) It beats the shit out of me! Why is it so segregated? Why is sex so different to any other aspect of being in a relationship? I’m not speaking from the perspective of “oh I did this for you, so you should do this for me” but from the perspective that “I will do this because it will make you happy, and I would hope that you too would be looking for things to do that you KNOW would make ME happy!I have told you my fantasies, I have shared with you my kinks and desires, you KNOW what I like…..I SHOULDN’T have to ASK.( I saw you admire that dress, so I bought it for you!) Look at the smile on my face afterwards…..can you feel the LOVE now? I’m happy and I appreciate what you have done!
    Is it not possible for some of you people to derive pleasure from GIVING pleasure?! Ok, lets see…..we’ll do it your way every third time!Two to One, what have you got to lose…..and maybe you’d see how much you have to gain!

  38. Justsofrustrated! Says:

    I would like to point out also, that I, in no way, condone abusive relationships, and I don’t classify having someone beat the crap out of you as being FUN (unless that’s what you desire)

  39. Johnny Says:

    ^ I feel you man. I’ll pretty much try anything as long as it doesn’t involve blood, poo, or CBT. It’s an utter disappointment to discover that your partner doesn’t feel the same way.

  40. Sally Says:

    I too know that this is a very old post and I am currently in a relationship where my partner likes to have handcuffs, gags, blindfolds, rope, duct tape and whatever else used during sex.

    He also watches videos on bondage (which doesn’t bother me as I don’t have to participate in it) and I have recently caught him chatting up a gay male friend in a sexual way about this subject.

    I have tried some of the soft core stuff mostly to please him but I am finding that I am really NOT comfortable with any of it at all, it feels weird to me and to be honest I miss the vanilla sex which two exes from previous serious relationships were into and as much as I love my current partner I don’t see my relationship lasting much longer if I don’t say something and set out boundaries now.

    OP: As a woman I would advise you to speak with your partner about it, be honest about how this makes you feel and do what is right for YOU and if that means parting company with this guy then so be it!

  41. Mike Says:

    bondaries? boundaries change over a lifetime. What might be not so appealing now may be appealing later. I read a few books by David xzenre lately and found out that boundaries to in deed alter through ones life. I think at this moment you are in two different zones work on finding a middle.

  42. Lexi Says:

    I am a submissive, with a man who cannot Dom me… and just feels like he cannot see me as a submissive. Our relationship started very vanilla, with the hopes of moving into a D/s dynamic, but over a year later i’m miserable. i am missing that part of me more and more everyday.

    If he is a dominant… If i were you, i would ask him to play lightly with you. Maybe just try it out. If he is a good Dom he would NEVER go too far with you intentionally. Remember, he knows you have never tried this kind of thing. Its all a learning process for you, and him to learn what you like AND won’t take. My first partner introduced me to this, and i did not even know it all existed! i too was terrified, but it was fun. Started light and went from there. Many times it is just a mind matter, right and wrong. Once you can break through that, you never know.

    If he is a submissive, Maybe try it out, and see the pleasure your demands bring him. You might like it after all.

    And if all this fails….

    If you two aren’t particularly attached to one another, i would end it. This lifestyle is very hard to forget, and nothing but an internal change will make it truly go away. Forcing yourself to be vanilla, after time, will just make it worse. Talk with him about everything and explain why you think this is best. Maybe you two can remain good friends.

  43. Jim Says:

    I cant say if a relationship is completely doomed however, my wife has never been anything but vanilla. As the years have past I have slowly introduced her various things and while she now seems to enjoy being tied and teased she has no interest in reversing the roles. This leaves me feeling less than satisfied. She leaves me feeling embarrassed by asking which I find to be quite hard to swallow. So now by her getting everything she needs and wants I am still left with this hole that needs to be filled. I cant imagine ever leaving my wife and would never cheat on her. So is the relationship doomed? No, I will spend my life being unsatisfied but still with a good woman.

  44. Wally Says:

    Jim.. I have a similar situation. I love my wife and would also never leave her. When we first met and got married, sex was GREAT, OFTEN, sometimes kinky. Then she realized she was an alcoholic and stopped drinking. She said the drinking is what made her lose control. Sex just kinda went downhill for a while then we saw a marriage counselor and helped her get some of that kink back. Then she started taking hormones and things were GREAT again. But.. now she stopped because apparently she was taking too much and had to back off. So instead of backing off, she slowed and stopped. Now, we don’t have sex. I feel like I have a roomate than a lover/wife/friend. I feel sex is a critical part of a relationship. I am currently out of town and I am craving sex and am frustrated. Hopefully my marriage is not doomed but I am very frustrated and unhappy.

  45. Daniel Says:

    I know this is an old post, but for anyone reading this who is in this situation, the answer is yes – you should break it off because it is not going to work in the long term.

    Even now, at the beginning of the relationship when your desires to make each other happy are at their strongest, you are not wanting to engage in this kind of thing with him. As your relationship grows and gets more mature, your willingness to tolerate is going to get weaker and weaker, and eventually you are going to end up telling him that you want nothing to do with it.

    On his side – these desires are obviously very strong and represent a need that is going to need to be fulfilled. If you get married and then one day, a few years later, you tell him that you hate it and that you want nothing to do with it, he is going to feel abandoned by you. And if you have not already told him that you do not like this stuff, he is going to feel that you deceived and misled him (and he would be right).

    There is certainly nothing wrong with either of you – you just aren’t designed to fulfill each others needs and are not going to be compatible in the long term. If you get married you are both going to end up resentful of each other and you will be misereable.

  46. Kevin Says:

    I have been married for nine years. I very much enjoy “regular” sex and believe that sex is an important way to be intimate and bond with your partner.

    That being said, I also do have a kinky streak in me and I do like (need) some variety in my sex life. I am not into hard core BDSM, but I do find things like spankings, being tied up, and things like that to be fun, and it is something that I need as a component of my sex life to feel fulfilled in that area. In addition to the “turn-on” factor, for me a big part of the appeal of that stuff is that it is like “playing” with your partner and is a fund, bonding experience that makes me feel closer to her.

    I was married before and when I got divorced I promised myself that if I got married again I would make sure that me and my new wife were sexually compatible. When we first started dating, and for the first two or three years of my marriage my wife and I had a great sex life. She was open minded and seemed to really like both regular sex and playing around with more erotic things. I was open with her about the fact that I liked some kinky things early into our relationship and she seemed to be perfectly ok with it.

    Now, nine years later, we have hit the marital doldrums and our sex life it terrible. We have sex about once a month (if that) and when we do, it is always “regular” sex.

    My wife is now telling me that she doesn’t like he kinky things and isn’t comfortable with it.

    I feel very, very betrayed and I feel like I was lied to and misled about a very important, fundamental thing. I also have a lot of resentment because I feel like I have basically just been told “you are never going to be able to have those things that you really, really enjoy.”

    If she had been up front with me about it in the beginning, then I could have made a choice as to whether this was something that I could live without and still fill fulfilled. But that choice was taken away from me through what I feel was deception. Now I am in a marriage where I am feel like I am never going to be sexually fulfilled and it is really hard not to feel resentful of that.

    For anyone who reads this . . . please be honest with the people you are in relationships with right from the start. And if you are with someone who has needs that you find distasteful or that you really don’t like, that person has a right to know that this is something that you do not like and may not be able to live with.

  47. renee Says:

    Go for it. If you do not mind sharing him with mistresses, prostitutes, crazy sex toys and on-line kinky people etc. (because eventually- he will yearn for the things he desires). Men will often give up love for sex. unfortunatly-thats the way they are. all that leads to sex addiction that is really hard to stop.

  48. Johnny Says:

    Damn Renee, you really nailed it there. Kink will not be suppressed. Kink will find a way out.

    My only gripe with your statement is that you attribute this behavior/mentality to men, instead of to everybody. That’s the ol’ fantasy of female purity right there, which in my mind is thoroughly debunked.

  49. blah Says:

    You’re not alone. The idea of rape role playing is repulsive to me and i strongly believe it sets feminism back a few thousand years. It disgusts me actually to hear that rape fetishes are common among women…and then i also see how commonly women whine about date rape…it is so hypocritical. You can’t have a rape fetish but then act like you don’t enjoy rape…

    Anyway, this guy seems like he has major issues to work out. Was he hospitalized a lot as a child? I have read that men who experienced a lot of pain in childhood tend to fetishize the pain, and thise type of fetish is the result.

  50. dallas Says:

    I don’t find rape role play sexy either. The thought of it doesn’t really do it for me. However, I do enjoy having my hair pulled and being spanked, being called somewhat derogatory names, and a few other things that may be a little off the beaten path. Would I enjoy sex with a man who didnt / couldn’t do all that for me? Probably. Would I be disappointed that he wouldnt be able to fulfill that part of my sexuality? Yes. Would it be a deal breaker? Probably not, but that’s just me. Then again, I dont think that my preferences are so very kinky that many men wouldnt be willing to try them.


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