Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor
Some kinks my partner and I do because they come naturally to us – all we need is to hear about them, see them in porn, or get flashes of them in our minds when we’re wanking ourselves to sleep at night, and our guts lurch with a desire that screams “Yes! This one’s for us!” But there are others that take time to consider, or to practise, or to fully understand. To shamelessly paraphrase Kennedy: some kinks we choose to do not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
When I write about my journey towards compersion, and how I’m trying to become more comfortable with the idea of my partner fucking other people, some readers worry. They say that they’re concerned I might be forcing myself into situations that I’m not happy with, either to please him or to please some nebulous group of sex-positive people, who are peer-pressuring me into swinging or non-monogamy.
My initial reaction to this is the somewhat spiky ‘don’t tell me what to do! I know my own mind!’ But this isn’t fair of me. People who care deserve better, because their worries are natural and kind.
What’s more, it turns out my partner worries too.
“Not sure I liked that blog post, to be honest.”
“Shit. Sorry. I thought you’d enjoy it.”
“It made me sad, like are you doing things you don’t want to do just because of me?”
“No, not at all. Let’s talk about it. Did… did you like anything about the post?”
“Well. It made me feel sad, but it also made me feel … what’s the word? … oh yeah – erect.”
“Phew. Right, let’s talk this through…”
Why do people worry about compersion blogs?
Luckily, my partner doesn’t have to rely solely on what I write in blog posts, where I’m limited by word count and people’s attention spans. So I get the chance to talk to him about these things in a lot more depth, and we can explore together both the hotness of whatever we’re doing, and the complex emotions that arise from doing it.
When I write my thoughts about him fucking other people, trying on compersion or even erotic fiction where I get horny at the thought of it, I never just say ‘this is hot’, I always include detail about the jealousy or worry or angst that is thrown up by my brain in these situations. So it’s understandable that people would ask questions like:
1. Is my partner putting pressure on me to do this? Is he nudging me in a direction I’m not comfortable with just so he can get his end away?
2. Am I bowing to peer pressure from others in the sex-positive community, who are more comfortable than I am with the idea of swinging or non-monogamy?
The answer to both is ‘no.’ But that ‘no’ alone wasn’t enough for my partner, and I don’t expect it to be enough for any of you. If I want you to enjoy these posts, rather than worry about them, I owe you more than that. So here goes.
Sex is my hobby, and I want to try a lot of it
When people ask me “why force yourself to share your partner?” I bristle at the word ‘force’, because I’m not forcing myself to do anything. No more than I am ‘forcing’ myself to use specific sex toys because I want to keep my sponsors happy, or ‘forcing’ myself to try new kinks because, even though they don’t press my specific buttons, I think they are things that my partner will like.
The obvious reason I do this is that I like trying new things. Sex is my hobby, and I want to try as much of it as possible, even if the initial idea of it isn’t one that directly appeals to me. Often I want to try things precisely because they feel uncomfortable and transgressive. Not everyone’s going to like this idea – for some people the thought of trying something that doesn’t immediately turn them on will feel weird and awkward at best, and coercive and painful at worst. We’re all different.
There are some kinks that I absolutely wouldn’t try: ones which outright leave me cold or make me shudder. The ‘yuck’ ones, as opposed to the ‘yum.’ But between ‘yuck’ and ‘yum’ there’s a whole spectrum of flavours that I’m quite keen to wrap my tongue around. The ‘oohs’ and the ‘hmms’ and the ‘maybes’ that add richness and zest to my life.
Getting fucked by a new guy, while my partner looks on? Yum as fuck. Watching my partner get fucked while I look on? Hmm. OK. Interesting. There’s a spice here – a delicious, rich and complex one. But there’s also a tang of bitterness. One I may need to try a few times before I know whether or not I like it. Maybe it’s something that I’d like to eat occasionally, but would never turn into an everyday dish. Perhaps it needs tempering with something else (his love, reassurance, kindness, lust for me) in thick, rich servings to balance out the meal.
If the food analogy isn’t good enough, here’s a better one: have you ever put work and effort into something that was difficult, because you knew the rewards at the end would be worth it? Learning a new language, playing an instrument, doing the couch to 5K? Starting on a journey that was in turns frustrating, fun, difficult, interesting, arduous, and rewarding? I think it’s a lot like that.
It is not ‘I’, it is ‘we’
The second fairly obvious response to people’s worries is this one: exploring kinks that provoke these complex emotions is not something that I do alone, it is something ‘we’ do. We help each other, we love each other, and we fancy the fuck out of each other.
Throughout our relationship, we have had a lot of ups and downs, but the times when we have been closest and happiest is when we do stuff together. When it’s not ‘I’, but ‘we’.
This goes for everything. From the tediously mundane, like working out the design for our new living room to create a place that speaks equally to both of us, to the soaringly complex, like negotiating the details of our joint living costs, taking into account our vastly differing incomes and individual feelings about financial responsibility.
These are not things I can decide alone, and I wouldn’t want to. We make better decisions – have greater adventures – when we set out to do them together.
I am not the only person in this couple who has tried on new kinks or experimented with ideas that didn’t initially strike me as hot. He has done so much at my invitation – from testing out new sex toys to playing specific scenes, sharing his secrets and fantasies and allowing me into the private parts of his head. He has – and ironically I find it hard to conjure the right words to express how much love I feel for him about this – allowed me to write publicly about the intimate details of our lives together. On these pages, for other websites, and in an entire book. He is not only the co-star in the movie of my life, he’s also the star around which my career orbits, and the one I look to for guidance when I’m lost.
I say this not to imply there’s a ‘tit for tat’ going on: I don’t want to experience compersion so he gets a reward for all he’s done for me. I say it because I genuinely believe that we are better together, and that in sharing our kinks and desires and lives we open new doors for each other, which are fun to peep through – or walk through – side by side.
When I explained it to my other half, he came up with his own analogy. Forgive me for paraphrasing, and for overloading this post with analogies, but I liked it so here goes:
“We are sexplorers. We live in an archipelago of islands, and on each one there are interesting things to discover. We’ve been to most of the islands nearby, and had some amazing adventures. There are others near us that we’re not interested in, but a couple we know of beyond the horizon that we’ve never properly visited – just sailed past and looked longingly at the shore. We know that the journey might be tricky or disappointing – we’ll sail through storms or reach the islands and realise we want to turn back. But those islands look so good, and other people we know tell us they’re incredibly fun to visit. And fuck it, we really enjoy the journey. So we can have a go at reaching these islands if we want to, and it will definitely be hard but it may be really rewarding, and on the way we can guarantee that the two of us will have a lot of fun.”
I don’t expect everyone to see sex in this way. For many people, sex is one of the areas of their lives where they don’t want to push themselves to experiment or introspect or tediously over-analyse. But – *gestures vaguely at blog* – I am not one of those people. Long before sex was my job, it was my hobby. And I have always wanted to do things that seemed hard or unusual or funny or weird to me at first glance, if the end goal of hotness was lurking somewhere on the horizon.
Sometimes I’ll fail, and that’s OK. But I have never been with someone I am as comfortable with as him, so having him beside me makes me feel safe to explore even the roughest seas, so I want to allow myself the space to try. And on the journey, I want to be honest with you about how I feel, offering up the challenges as well as the rewards, because to do so feels more honest than simply giving you the horny details.
The truth, the whole truth
Perhaps one of the reasons people worry about this is that there’s a key element missing. I explained all the above to my partner, and he got it. Smiling and nodding and offering up the sexplorers analogy of his own. But he has pieces of the puzzle that the rest of you don’t: he has insider knowledge, and first-hand experience, of stories I haven’t yet told you. Adventures we went on together that left both of us breathless with happiness. That brought the two of us joy.
I’m working on a way to tell you these stories, but for now I’m going to leave it fairly vague. But rest assured that the posts I write about this stuff which involve me retreating inside my head and my imagination are not wholly reflective of the intensely hot, and deeply satisfying tales that I hope I can tell you all one day.
The sexy journeys that I go on with my partner make our lives more complex, rich and interesting. They bring me joy, they turn me on, and they do the same for him. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
And without the challenge, it wouldn’t feel like an adventure.