Why Your Partner May Be Unsure of BDSM and Tackling These Issues

Something I would like to mention here is that if you feel your partner has developed negative sentiments towards you due to the desires you expressed, don’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that these people are just horrible and judgemental. While it is possible that they are, it’s unfair to assume so – the issue could be a lot more complicated than it initially appears. I’ll try to explore some of the possibilities here.

 

  1. Someone’s past or background

It may be difficult for someone if they or someone near to them has experienced sexual and/or violent abuse or trauma in the past. It’s also worth saying that just because someone hasn’t themselves experienced abuse, they haven’t been affected by it. In some cases a case of abuse experienced by a friend or family member may trigger negative feelings. Don’t even discount the effect of abuse from outside someone’s immediate circle – many people haven’t had any experience of abuse but have heard horrible stories in the newspapers or other media. If this seems far-fetches take this example:  many people don’t come from and don’t know anyone who comes from a family who had children at a very young age (say 15 – 19). However they’ve seen stories on the news about irresponsible teen parents who leave their babies at home whilst they go out partying. Now this person may assume that all young parents are irresponsible and neglectful, but this is certainly not the case. Neither is it the case that only young parents are either irresponsible or neglectful. (Of course there can be issues around the age of consent with the very young parents, but try to put that aside for the sake of this example).

 

So the person you’ve proposed BDSM to has some kind of experience with sexual/violent abuse. Imagine for example, the train of thought of a rape victim may take if someone proposed a pseudo-rape scene to (I’m sure no-one would be that callous, this is purely used an extreme example). It was extremely traumatic, an absolutely horrific experience that took them years to recover from. And now you’re there, proposing to pretend one of you is being forced to have sex, for fun? Of course it’s not hard to see where feelings of anger, betrayal and distress would emerge from this. This could extend to stories of abuse someone may have heard – ‘there’s people all over the country whose lives have been destroyed by rape – and yet you think it’s fun to pretend it’s happening to me/you?’ You’re probably unlikely to encounter such extreme reactions, but it is important to try and get into the mindset of your partner if they appear upset. Communicate with them and try to explain that a pseudo-rape scene is nothing like the reality. It’s not rape, it’s between two capable and consensual adults. It is not intended to suggest that rape is in any way fun or enjoyable in reality, it’s simply role-playing.

 

Unfortunately it may be the case that you can’t reassure your partner that you’re not intending to cause any harm or offence with these fantasies. They may just find it impossible to place your fantasies into a non-threatening context. However strong these negative feelings may be, I feel it would be unfair to think unkindly on the person feeling them – if something brings up uncomfortable feelings in someone it’s rarely in their control to put these feelings aside. This may changes with time and communication, but it’s just as possible that you will have to accept that your partner’s feeling on the subject aren’t going to change and you will have to move on.

 

I’d also like to take a moment to say that the fact that someone has experienced abuse does not necessarily mean that they will have negative feelings associated with comparable aspects of BDSM. They may be easily able to distinguish the two scenarios as completely different situations, it may even give them a safe space to come to terms with any buried negative feelings that have resulted from their abuse. However it’s also possible that people will not experience distress until you’re already in the middle of a scene – if you don’t think you’ll be able to take them through the experience in a safe and non-damaging way, then don’t even consider it. Really this is just common sense.

 

2. Moral Objections

 

People may hold specific moral beliefs or views that simply don’t allow them to view a certain aspect of BDSM in any kind of positive light. For example, someone may view all forms of violence as unacceptable, in any situation. As such trying to convince someone that it’s okay to flog or hit someone is alright as long as both parties consent and enjoy it could provoke reactions of outrage or disbelief. It may be possible that they’ll change their mind with enough reassurance that no-one will be hurt, but it could also be possible that their mind cannot be changed.

 

It could also make the person very anxious if they cannot separate the two situations. Because they don’t understand the motivations behind the actions in the BDSM scenario, they start to wonder if you really want to hurt them, if they’ve done something to make you angry with them, or if you’re secretly harbouring negative feelings towards them. Or if you’ve asked them to dominate, they may wonder why you want them to hurt you, if you feel you deserve to be hurt in some way, if there has been abuse in your past or if you believe they’ve been burying aggressive feelings towards you.

 

You can imagine how difficult such anxieties would be to overcome – they may be similar to the questions that someone discovering their own desire to participate in BDSM asks themselves as they initially come to terms with their sexual needs and feelings. What is needed here is plenty of time, effort and communication to relieve your partner’s fears. It’s essential that all worries have truly been laid to rest before trying out any scenes – you don’t want to discover after the scene that your partner was engaged in some painful internal struggle and still harbouring doubts about your true intent. Continue to communicate throughout the entire process, especially afterwards when your partner needs to process what they felt during the scene and why they felt it.

 

It needs to be felt that both of you are able to speak freely, that you and your partner can express any negative feelings without fear of causing guilt or offence. If a certain action makes one of you uncomfortable it needs to be said – however close you may be neither of you are mind-readers.

 

3. Initial Feelings & Reactions

 

After expressing your desire to engage in BDSM it may be wise to give your partner a little space to think. This doesn’t mean leaving your partner to stew in their thoughts alone but does mean not nagging them or demanding answers or responses quickly.

 

If your partner’s had little experience with BDSM then there will probably be a lot of mixed emotions fighting for attention in their heads. One may be anger, which could be experienced for a number of reasons. The first may be that they simply find the acts you’ve suggested to them disgusting or immoral. They may not understand the actions as anything other than violent and degrading – directing them to appropriate information online or buying informative books may help them to overcome these knee-jerk reactions. Another reason that you may not have considered is that they may feel resentful that you’ve only just expressed these desires to them. They may fear that for the whole duration of your relationship you’ve secretly been unsatisfied with your sex life and worry that they’ve not been pleasing you when they believed that you were both enjoying good and healthy sex lives. Of course they needn’t be the case – just because you have an interest in BDSM doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy sex without it (although that may be the case). You may have also only just discovered your own feelings about BDSM, you haven’t necessarily been keeping them under wraps for years.

 

It’s easy to see where these insecurities stem from – it’s important to assure your partner that it isn’t the case that you haven’t been enjoying your sex life up to the point (this may also be one point where honesty isn’t necessarily the best policy. Even if you have always felt that you sex life has been missing something, this is probably not the time to say so, or at least it needs to be said in a way that doesn’t increase your partner’s feelings of inadequacy).

 

They may also feel that they’ve been deceived initially. To your horror you may find that your partner feels that you’ve only put up with vanilla sex to put them into a sense of security before springing your true desires on them further down the line. This may seem absolutely awful to contemplate, but it’s likely that these feelings come from a sense of insecurity rather than true notions of deception. It does seem unlikely that anyone would take the trouble to deceive someone when there are so many people who share their fantasies – it really is just a knee-jerk reaction. They may feel cornered, you need to give them space and not badger them. With a bit of time they’re likely to realise how unlikely it is that you’re just trying to trick them, which will be consolidated by the fact that you’re showing respect for their feelings by not pushing things.

 

One particular reaction which could be surprisingly problematic is interest. At first glance you’d probably think ‘great! We’re on the same page!’ However this interest may be accompanied by very confused and mixed feelings. They may feel self-disgust or self-hatred for being interested in things that they’ve always been told or always believed were wrong. It may take a long time for them to accept their desires as healthy and non-abusive to either themselves or you. This is a case whereupon agreeing to try something out you need to proceed very slowly (I believe this is probably best for anyone just starting out in BDSM, although other people may not think it necessary to exercise quite so much caution).

You don’t want to dive into a really intense scene that seemed great at the time but leaves either you or your partner feeling badly about themselves afterwards. Having a few light sessions can help you partner feel assured that neither you or they are inflicting any real damage – that the scenes aren’t a result of buried or concealed hostility between the two of you. Talk to each other, if negative feelings have been experienced they can be tackled. This may mean completely backing off for a while, to show and assure your partner that things aren’t going to change between the two of you just because your sex lives have taken on a different dimension.

 

One of the big emotions you’d probably expect to encounter is fear, for a lot of very good reasons. The first is that it’s incredibly scary to think of handing over or completely taking over complete control. There are slightly different issues involved depending on what it is you’re wanting though.

 

If you want to dominate your partner, they could be absolutely terrified at the prospect of being tied-up and defenceless – that’s a natural reaction. Try to put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel in that position? What emotions do you think you would need to tackle in order to feel safe and secure in that position? Again pacing is important here – don’t just tie them down and start shouting insults in their face (I imagine few people would be so incredibly careless to even contemplate that). First try very light bondage, something they can get out of easily, or even just hold their arms down. Use soft materials and keep a pair of scissors handy just in case. Assure them that they can get out of it anytime they want and assure them that just because you want to dominate them it doesn’t mean that you think them weak of less of a person. If they respond well move slowly into heavier bondage and always monitor their reaction. Remember there’s a different between someone who’s a little submissive and someone who really enjoys truly submitting and handing over all control.

 

They may not mind feeling tied-up because they feel so safe with you that they don’t feel at all vulnerable, while others may get off on the idea of a little helplessness. It’s important to distinguish the two early on as the former may get anxious very quickly if they start to feel that they really have no control. You may want them to feel helpless and maybe somewhat nervous, but it’ll just be scary for them if they don’t enjoy those feelings. Remember safe words and never, ever ignore them – trust needs to be there, otherwise it’s just abuse.

I’d also advise that if there are multiple things you want to try that you only introduce one at a time. That way it’s much easier to gauge the reaction of your partner to each individual element and it also prevents anyone from getting a bit overwhelmed (again this may seem over-cautious to some. But you have a lifetime to get it right, why rush things?).

 

If however you want your partner to dominate you, that’s a whole different can of worms. They may feel awkward and nervous at first – they may struggled with their instincts for a time, feeling that even in the context it’s wrong to hurt or humiliate you and it could take a lot of time and reassurance that hurting you doesn’t mean damaging you.

 

Once again, the key’s to take things at a comfortable pace. Maybe you could start outside a sexual context – do little jobs or chores for your partner that they dislike, show they that it makes you feel good to do these things for them. Try a little light bondage so they can see that you’re not going to get afraid of them when they begin to take over control. If you want to be spanked, flogged or anything along those lines they’ll need to work up to it – they’ll be scared of hurting you and so probably won’t be too enthusiastic to begin with. But they may relax a little when they see you react positively. The same thing goes for dirty talk – they’re probably going to feel a little silly at first and there may be a lot of giggling and awkwardness before they really take on the role. It may help to suggest a few phrases, so they have a better idea of what it acceptable to say and what is too much.

 

There is however always the possibility that despite both your best efforts your partner simply doesn’t fit the role you want them to. You’ve both tried but it simply isn’t them. In that case you may need to consider alternatives or at worst case abandon your desires altogether – it all depends on how important it is for you that you’re with someone who takes on that role.

 

It could also be the case that you experience few or none of these problems. Your partner may take to their new role like a fish to water, so you may not need such a cautious approach. But do still remember not to rush in too quickly, your partner may like the idea in theory but be very uncomfortable with the reality. It’s also worth remembering that Doms also have their own limits and as you’re both exploring what you do and don’t like you’re likely to make a few mistakes. Remember not to get angry or upset if your partner accidentally takes it a little too far, just look at it as a lesson of what works for you and what doesn’t and grow from it. That doesn’t mean letting somebody constantly cross your limits, but does mean not blaming them if they unintentionally do so while you’re both still learning.

 

I think that covers the majority of concerns, although in the end I think it’s all about reaching a point where you are both comfortable. Your notion of BDSM may be intense and limit-pushing, whilst for others it may be light-hearted and giggly. It’s all about what works for you as a couple.

 

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About buhocurioso

I'm someone with little experience with sex or BDSM, however I would like to explore these areas and try to overcome any negative feelings I have towards them. I want to be comfortable with my own skin and also understand what different aspects in these areas mean to others.

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