Dear Dan: I’m a 27-year-old woman whose boyfriend recently broke up with her. Along with the usual feelings of grief and heartbreak, I’m feeling a lot of guilt about how I handled our sex life, which was one of the main issues in our breakup. My now ex-boyfriend was interested in BDSM and a kink-oriented lifestyle, and I experimented with that for him. I attended several play parties, went to a five-day-long kink camp with him, and tried out many of his BDSM fantasies. The problem became that, hard as I tried, I just wasn’t very interested in that lifestyle and parts of it made me very uncomfortable. I was game to do the lighter stuff (spanking, bondage), but just couldn’t get behind the more extreme things. I disappointed him because I “went along with it” only to decide I wasn’t into it and that I unfairly represented my interest in his lifestyle. Did I do something wrong? What should I have done?
—Basically A Little Kinky
Dear BALK: All you’re guilty of doing, BALK, is exactly what kinksters everywhere hope their vanilla partners will do. You gave it a try — you were good, giving and game enough to explore BDSM with and for him — and sometimes that works, e.g. someone who always thought of themselves as vanilla goes to a play party or a five-day-long kink camp and suddenly realizes, hey, I’m pretty kinky, too! But it doesn’t always work. Since the alternative to “went along with it” was “never gave it a chance,” BALK, your ex-boyfriend should be giving you credit for trying, not grief for supposedly misleading him.
Dear Dan: I’m a 28-year-old bi-curious female, and I ended a three-year straight LTR a month ago. It’s been tough — my ex is a great guy, and causing him pain has been a loss on top of my own loss, but I know I did the right thing. Among other things, our sex life was bland and we had infrequent sex at best. Now I want to experiment, explore nonmonogamy and have crazy and fulfilling sex with whoever tickles my fancy. I met a new guy two weeks ago, and the sex is incredible. We also immediately clicked and became friends. The problem? I suspect he wants a romantic relationship. He says he’s open to my terms — open/fuck-buddy situation — but things have quickly become relationship-ish. I like him, but I can’t realistically picture us being a good LTR match. I’m hoping we can figure out something in between — something like a sexual friendship where we enjoy and support each other and experiment together without tying ourselves down — but I have found very little evidence of such undefined relationships working without someone getting hurt. I am sick of hurting people! Any advice?
—Hoping Open Peaceful Experiences Feel Unlike Loss
Dear HOPEFUL: If “someone might get hurt” is the standard you’re going to apply to all future relationships — if it’s a deal breaker — then you shouldn’t date or fuck anyone else ever again, HOPEFUL, because there’s always a chance someone is going to get hurt. The fact that hurt is always a possibility is no excuse for hurting others needlessly or maliciously; we should be thoughtful and conscientious about other people’s feelings. We should also remember that no one is clairvoyant and that someone can hurt us without intending to. But there’s no intimate human connection, sexual or otherwise, that doesn’t leave us open to hurting or being hurt.
So fuck this guy, HOPEFUL, on your own terms — but don’t be too quick to dismiss the possibility of an LTR. Great sex and a good friendship make up a solid foundation. You’re aware that nonmonogamous relationships are an option — and couples can explore nonmonogamy together. If you can have this guy and have your sexual adventures, too — this could be the start of something big.
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