“Well, you don’t know what we can find
Why don’t you come with me, little girl
On a magic carpet ride
You don’t know what we can see
Why don’t you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free–Steppenwolf, “Magic Carpet Ride”
Hey, my kinky, polyam peeps! Easter is next weekend and believe me when I say I have been stocking up on my Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. For those of you who were unaware, the Reese’s products with the best peanut butter to chocolate ratio are, in order: 1) Pumpkins, 2) Eggs, 3) Hearts, 4) Christmas Trees, 5) Everything else. As a self-proclaimed Reese’s expert, take it from me. I know what I’m talking about.
As this blog is just as much about my personal life experiences as it is education, I want to start this entry with a little bit of a story. About five or six years ago, when I was first starting my polyam journey, I met a wonderful young woman named Amanda (Not her real name, obviously. As always, names are changed to protect the innocent). We had a pretty ill-defined relationship over the course of the next year. Were we friends? Were we partners? Honestly, if I had to put a label on it, it was really more of a Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby dynamic. She had financial problems for reasons that I don’t feel I have the right to disclose, and we would hang out, go on dates, be intimate, and I would help pay a few of her bills to get her through the rough times.
After about a year she moved out of state with her boyfriend and we lost touch. I thought about contacting her, however, our time together was tarnished with personal problems she was having and I thought it best that I allow her to forget about that part of her life. If she wanted to reconnect, I let her know that it would be her choice and my door would always be open. Well, last week I get a DM on TikTok, and it was Amanda saying I came across her feed. She started telling me all about her amazing life, her husband, her two kids, and how her move was exactly what she needed. She also thanked me profusely for being there, and we we’ve been exchanging texts every day since.
The reason I mention this story is because when Amanda and I started seeing each other. I explained to her my status as someone both polyam and kinky. I made it clear that kink didn’t have to be part of our dynamic, and she was curious, so I answered her questions as best I could. While she’s not a Dominant, she would do little things to make me feel comfortable, such as sharpening her nails to the point where they would dig into my skin and nearly draw blood, because she knew that made me happy, and that made her happy. While the extent of our kink dynamic never really went beyond that, I was very fortunate that I was able to find someone who was open to exploring these ideas, even if they ultimately decided it wasn’t for them. As we’ll soon discuss, exposing a vanilla partner to kink is like making First Contact. It can either go really well, or very, very wrong…
Before we go any further, it’s time for the obligatory resource share. For this post I pulled information from this piece on Bustle by Amanda Chatel, this piece from Ask Men by Priya-Alika Elias, and this video from one of my favorite vloggers, Ms. Evie Lupine.
Without turning this into a cishetero pity party, I will say that dating while kinky shares a lot of similarities to dating while polyam, in that both carry similar challenges that the “vanilla” dating world normally doesn’t deal with. It’s been my experience that kink can be a major deal-breaker in relationships, so the question of “when do I tell my potential partner” can be a tricky one. I imagine it’s a lot like the dilemma a single parent faces when debating when and how to inform their date that there are children still in the picture. It’s a conversation that needs to happen early, but not necessarily on the first date, and when the news breaks, it can mean an instant end to any romantic possibilities.
While I won’t say there’s one right answer to how to introduce your partner to kink, I will say that there are several “wrong answers”: There are absolutely things that you want to shy away from no matter what, so this piece isn’t going to be so much user’s guide on the best path as it is a manual on things you should steer clear of.
The first thing that must be addressed is “How important is kink to you”. Because kink still remains such a taboo subject in society, it’s entirely possible that any potential partner will choose to end a relationship if kink is involved, which is entirely their right. You must ask yourself “What am I willing to sacrifice for my kinky desires? Am I willing to walk away from this relationship if I can’t have kink elements in my life?” Because we often don’t know how a relationship will develop when it first begins, it’s entirely possible we won’t know the answer yet, AND THAT’S OKAY! What you must be willing to do is prepare yourself for the worst possible outcome, even if it never comes to pass.
Before even approaching your partner about kink, you need to be able to effectively communicate what kink is, what your kinks are, and what kink means to you. This means doing your homework. If you’re a kink veteran, you’ve presumably already done all this work. If you’re new to kink yourself, there’s plenty of great resources online and in your local community (whether you realize it or not). You need to come off as someone who is educated and confident if you want your partner to trust you. And speaking of trust, you need to speak from the heart so they know that you are trusting them. Kink requires a high degree of intimacy, so now is not the time to mince or couch your words.
Where and when to discuss kink is also imperative to how it will be received. DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT HAVE THE CONVERSATION IN THE BEDROOM! While kink can be, and is often sexual, it does not need to be. Having the first kink conversation outside of the bedroom has numerous advantages. First, it removes a degree of pressure that your partner may feel to agree to something. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are more easily coerced while we are lying with our partners half naked in bed than if we are sitting fully clothed on the couch or in a public space. Second, it de-emphasizes any sexual aspect of kink. An option we’ll discuss later is seeking out a non-sexual, non-romantic play partner to satisfy your kinky needs, and if this conversation is had outside the bedroom, your partner might be more open to the arrangement because they see it as a platonic agreement and less like “cheating”. Finally, the in-person component will help eliminate any misunderstandings. You should NEVER have this conversation via text or DM. I would argue even video chat might be problematic. There’s no substitute for sitting across from a loved one and being able to look them directly in the eye while you speak your heart.
Regarding how to begin the conversation, Ms. Lupine mentions that you should “test the waters” by bringing up something kink related in pop-culture to see how your partner reacts (“Have you heard about ‘Love and Leashes’ on Netflix? Everyone at the office seems to be talking about it.”) Her argument is that if your partner expresses interest, it’s safe to move forward, while if they recoil in disgust, it’s a “hard stop”. This is one of the rare areas where Ms. Lupine and I disagree. While I understand her intent, in my opinion, her approach violates one of the most sacred tenants of kink: clear, open, and honest communication. By trying to “guess” how your partner feels, you’re running the risk of a misunderstanding. While it can be a risk, I think the best approach is a direct one. Note that direct doesn’t necessarily mean blunt. You don’t need to show up to your date in a leather harness and a ball gag. I do believe that you owe any potential partner a conversation in which you say “This is what I am interested in. What are your thoughts on that.”
Regarding the content of the conversation, it’s imperative that you be specific. Talk about your specific kinks. Don’t just say “I like to be spanked”. Say “I like it when someone smacks my ass during sex” or I really like it when someone uses a paddle on my butt.” I’ve said it a thousand times before: “Ambiguity is where consent violations live”. More so than that, if your partner is going to be part of your kink dynamic, informed consent means they know exactly what they are getting into. We don’t need to go into full-blown negotiations, and we do need to give our partners a general idea of our expectations. In addition to the “what”, make sure you also explain the “why”. Kink can be a very integral part of some people’s identity. By explaining what kink means to you, your partner will be able to properly evaluate whatever level of commitment they are willing to sign up for.
If your partner has a negative reaction to your statements, it’s important not to make them feel ostracized. All feelings are valid and repulsion can be one of those feelings. Make sure to reassure your partner that while this is something that is important to you, it’s okay if it’s not important to them. This is why we prepare ourselves for rejection early. While you don’t need to make a decision in that moment, you do need to decide at some point that, if your partner does not want to engage in kink, nor is okay with you engaging in kink with someone else, do you strike some sort of compromise, or do you choose not to pursue the relationship further? There is no right or wrong answer. It’s up for each party to act in their own best interests.
Assuming your partner is open to exploring kink with you, that’s when the real work begins. I bring up the story about Amanda because it’s one that is pretty atypical and not to be expected. Because I never saw her as a committed, romantic partner, nor was I heavily invested in the relationship, I never encouraged her to explore kink with me. It was more a passing comment of “Oh, hey. By the way, here’s some stuff I like to do in my spare time” and she took that and ran with it on her own. This is a rare “success” story that you shouldn’t expected to be duplicated very often.
Once your partner is on board, it’s important to remember to take baby steps. As much as I love to “shock the vanillas”, I would never want to throw someone into the deep end of the pool without their consent. Kink is something that has to be eased into, and as the one initiating the dynamic, it’s your responsibility to ensure your partner’s comfort and safety through the whole process. Start by taking it slow. Going back to our spanking example, maybe encourage your partner to tap your butt every now and then when they see you around the house. Maybe incorporate some light spanking into your normal sexual routine. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged scene to incorporate your kinks. The idea is to normalize the behavior so your partner will feel more at ease.
As you and your partner slowly begin to incorporate your kinks, make sure to check, double-check, and triple-check both of your feelings and attitudes towards the new dynamic. It may be something they’re just not into. When Panda and I first entered the kink scene, I tried to top her in impact play and we finally came to the conclusion that our dynamic wasn’t working because I didn’t enjoy it, and because of this, I wasn’t very good at it. It’s hard to be dedicated and hone a craft when your heart isn’t in it.
Likewise, your partner may begin to discover their own kinks. Ironically, if not for being such a terrible dominant, I never would have discovered my submissiveness. I knew I wasn’t a top, but I still liked the idea of kink. I remember seeing submissive women being dominated by their partners and knew that was something I wanted for myself. Be open to your partner’s new desires. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover something new for yourself in the process.
On a final note, I want to add that you should NEVER pressure or force your partner into engaging in kink activities. It’s one thing to say “I really enjoy this activity and would love for you to share it with me.” It’s another to constantly pester them about it after they’ve already declined, or even worse, use the old “If you really loved me, you’d do this for me.” Not only is that not cool, it’s downright abusive. The key to kink is consent, and if you want your dynamic to be everything it can be, it has to be entered into willfully by both parties.
So, until next time, stay kinky, my friends…
–The Bratty Cat
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