As February was nearing, I began to wonder what "hot topic" I might broach for 2013.
Last year we tackled all things anal.
In 2011, I did a little one-two punch with vibrators and sex on your cycle.
The year before that was a rough one. We had a lot of life's difficulties thrown at us, but I decided to choose orgasm anyway.
And 2009 was the year that started it all. We were celebrating the Big Seven.
I had considered tackling fetishes. I even had several conversations with a few people about this idea. However, one theme kept rising to the surface as we talked. It's the same thing I see over and over again in emails and messages this time of year. Our first obstacle isn't talking about trying something new in the bedroom (or what is going on in our heads), but we need to talk about talking about it.
I used to think my husband didn't care if we had toys or costumes or swings mounted to the ceiling. I never thought he wanted too much outside of whatever was already going on. There was a very good reason for those assumptions:
I had never bothered to ask him.
And then when I did finally start to ask:
I should be mad, right? I mean, how dare he!? Why would he do that? How can we have a good marriage if we can't be completely honest with each other?!?
I didn't get the answers right away, and I sure didn't like them when I did.
I have had plenty of times I have seen something sexual or seen a woman expressing her sexuality in a way that is tantalizing to others, and I spoke against it. Harshly. I'm not saying it is wrong to express your disagreement with expressions of sexuality in a way that you find too public. However, I had to face the reality of how my words, voice and inflection left a permanent mark in my husband's brain that said, "The fact that you find that hot or attractive is not okay with your partner. She finds it revolting. Don't ever go there with her. She will be disgusted by you." My husband might also have agreed with me that the platform and the presentation was not something we agreed with, but he only heard me speak against it as a whole. So, to protect himself from his very normal functioning as a human (in particular, one with a penis), he promised himself he would keep his mouth shut and lie to his death before he'd have me look at him with the same face I just made. Or speak of him in the way I just did.
Those are times I created this situation inadvertently. Allow me to confess that there have been other times when I'm much more direct and purposeful.
Picture friends making a little joke in passing about the new wig they bought for the bedroom. I was not in a place where I was feeling confident in my own sexuality, much less our sex life. Their faces looked so very playful and happy. My husband's eyebrows lift and ... BAM. Big feelings rush over me. Does he want me to wear a wig? Is he jealous that she is more adventurous than me? What else does he want? He's not happy with me! Why did he even marry me if he wanted something else? Something ... more?
I can feel all of those things in two seconds. Instead of dealing with my own insecurities and working through them, I might get into the car an hour later and say things like, "I guess it's good that they found something that works ... if they need that." Ouch. Or one of the worst questions I've ever asked: "Do YOU like that? The idea of me wearing a wig?" (note: my face is very scrunched up as though I'm asking, "Would you like me to eat that cockroach on the floor right there? Would that get you off?")
I felt bad about myself, so I made sure to corner my partner so that he would have to be an IDIOT to be completely honest. In those moments, I wasn't actually wanting to know his thoughts, fantasies and/or fetishes. I wasn't wanting to get closer. My goal was to make sure I didn't feel any more insecure than I already did. It was all about me.
Can I blame the man for lying? Truthfully, I would too.
So, if you tell me that your partner doesn't want to use toys, or blindfold you, or that they don't ever think of anyone else during sex or ... they don't really like porn at all ... I might ask you, "How do you know?"
If you say you know for sure, because you've asked them and had that conversation, I might then ask you again, "How do you really know?"
I once created a space where my partner was terrified to admit anything to me outside of whatever was already going on in our bedroom. I have since recreated that space so that he can be honest with me. And you know what? I've since been honest with him. Cause there's just as much fun and crazy sexual stuff that has gone on in my head as his. Maybe not at the same time. Maybe not at the time of each conversation. Yet, over my lifetime, I have plenty of things to share.
to Tell You The Stuff They're Afraid to Admit
But Wish They Could
We all have a perfect example to work from right now. The Super Bowl just aired. Beyonce was all slathering around in her hotness with the lace and the black leather. And then she did it. Oh yeah, she totally did. Licked that finger and ran it across her breast.
I have read and heard much disdain about this overtly sexual performance (same sporting event/different year ... but that's neither here nor there). I've wondered how many people out there have said things in protest, without balancing it in the presence of their sexual partners with the very real fact that it was hot? Did you know that you can hate that you don't feel like you can let your six-year-old watch halftime of the Super Bowl and still acknowledge and support your partner's sexuality? Sure you can. Watch this:
"Ugh. I know this is nothing new, but it is always awkward when you can't watch the halftime show with the whole family. I wish there was some sort of balance. I don't know what that is, but (fill in your own opinions here about feminism and/or morals). BUT ... children aside ... oh my head, wasn't she HOT?" (said with a face that actually says, "Wasn't she hot?"). Ya' know (said in a whisper and out of the side of your mouth), I have a pair of black boots." Then you lift your eyes slowly to meet theirs, with the slightest smile.
They may still lie. They may think, "It's a TRAP! Stand strong!" Of course they may. Their hesitancy didn't happen over night. If they say, "I'm not really into that," and they pull away, you meet them where they are. "Well, they'll always be in my closet. So, you get to change your mind one day if you want to!" Smile.
You can then, later, start a conversation with, "I've been thinking about revamping my pretty things. It's time for some new lingerie. I wear it to feel pretty, but I also wear it for you. Do you mind helping me out? I've got a few catalogs/websites. Would you give me your top 10? It's okay if they're way out of our price range. Sometimes I can find similar things for less at other places." Ten things. Somewhere in those ten things they will have to be a little vulnerable. You will meet those ten things with, "I love that you can see me in that, already, in your head. You make me feel so sexy!"
In the meantime, you create your own safe space for yourself. For those of us who fight against deep insecurities, it does not take much for our thoughts to turn negative and shameful. We don't believe we are enough. We take any fantasy or toy or fetish as a direct threat against who we are in the relationship. That is not the truth. That is our negative self-talk creating a problem where one does not exist.
"But, Christine, you're ignoring the scariest part. What if my partner is interested in something I can never be? What if they want something that I do not feel comfortable participating in? I don't want to know what they're not telling me because then I'll have to face that!"
Deep breath. You might be creating a problem where one does not exist.
I want sex in the shower just like they did it in St. Elmo's Fire. Never gonna' happen. Even if my partner started working out seven days a week and we spent thousands of dollars reinforcing the shower doors. Never gonna' happen.
I find long hair on men veeerrrryyyy appealing. Especially dark, thin hair. With maybe a little wave. I have a certain type. It brings me pause when I see it. Throw on a pair of glasses and oh my lordy be. My husband knows this. And in case you haven't been paying attention, he's never gonna' look like that. You know what else I'm attracted to? Very short cuts or buzzed hair on men. I like a man that is not much taller than me. I like skinny legs. Hmmm, does that sound like someone I know?
I am attracted to a lot of different looks and I find many different things sexy and appealing. I don't have to have or experience all of them to be happy and fulfilled. And guess what? Your partner is attracted to a lot of different looks and they find many different things sexy and appealing. Yet, they don't have to have or experience all of them to be happy and fulfilled.
Your partner's sexual fantasies, wants and desires are not a threat to you. They can be shared without being expected. Some of them might be completely unappealing to you right now, but you might actually be willing to try one or two over the years. Many fantasies are just that - a fantasy. I have plenty that I do not ever want acted out and I will never say out loud. They are just for me. In my head, everyone is bendy, freakishly strong and a contortionist. Trying to bring that into real life would just jack it all up. But occasionally, after sex, I might ask, "Do you want to know where we were in my head just now and what was happening around us?"
I hope you're seeing both sides of this coin. I have my own things that I have been afraid to share over the years. There is one fantasy, in particular, that I did not tell my husband until last year. I was afraid he would find it uncomfortable. Maybe even repulsive. He knows me. He knows my heart and my passions, and my weaknesses and struggles. So, he was intrigued. He listened as I explained how it plays out in my head. Even I could see how I used my fantasy life to give myself power within my own body. It's not a fantasy I ever want to bring into actual human form. I didn't have to share it with him, but I wanted what it would bring to the two of us.
I knew that being that vulnerable would help him know and believe that he can share anything with me.
I dare you to take the risk. Maybe it will just start with, "Please read Christine's post today. I want us to talk about this, but it's okay if you don't feel totally safe in being honest with me. It's okay if you would like to add something to our sex life and haven't felt like you can ask for it. I didn't mean for this to happen, but if I can do better I'm not gonna' sit around and let things stay the same." Maybe tape a note to the mirror tonight that says, "Are you sometimes afraid to share things with me because you're afraid of my reaction? Check one: yes no"
Just open the door. And give your partner permission to stop the conversation when they feel you might be getting defensive. Take it in small doses. Keep meeting in the middle.