March 2, 2015

I’m 24 yo and new to the BDSM scene. I’ve been meeting up fairly regularly for the past two months with this guy in his 30s who ties, tickles, and edges me and I love the sessions I have with him. I’ve been into tickling since I was really young, and it feels so great to have somebody to express this part of me with. I wish I had been less afraid and embarrassed by my sexuality all this time before now. An older friend suggested I check out IML last year and I had a blast – I felt so comfortable there. Hope to see you at IML 2015

So I’m in a fulfilling kink relationship – what could possibly be my problem? I’m just the sort of driven guy who wants to have everything in my life, and this ultimately includes a public relationship with an attractive and intelligent guy around my age who I want to come home to. I’ve just begun dating this guy (25) who I met on OkCupid. Things are going really well and I feel like our attraction to each other comes from a deep place. It’s possible that he might be a fairly active guy since he’s on PrEP, but we haven’t talked yet about what (if anything) we’re doing with other guys. On the other hand, I sort of get this monogamous vibe from him and think that since he does a lot of work with HIV-positive persons he’s just extra concerned about his sexual health. I feel really nervous about talking with him about the kink side of me and even more nervous about the relationship I have with my top. I really don’t want to lie to him if we ever have this talk, but I think even worse would be to awkwardly blunder my way through the truth since I feel so uncomfortable talking about it with somebody. I’m honestly really afraid about being rejected by him. Do you have any wisdom which could help me navigate this problem? Thank you very much!

Honesty, and the possible resulting heartbreak now, is so much better and easier to negotiate and deal with than dishonesty and the nearly guaranteed heartbreak later on. Lay your cards on the table and let this suitor know what makes you tick, and what you are doing with other people now before commitment and promises are made or implied that you are not willing or able to keep. If he asks you to stop seeing the other guy, you can evaluate which relationship is more important to you, and decide who you’re going to stop seeing. If he asks you if you’ll be ready for monogamy eventually, answer honestly. Don’t draw lines in the sand, or try to skirt technicalities on monogamy. Find out what your boyfriend thinks is, and is not monogamy, and figure out if that’s something you want and can deliver. If he asks you to be in a non-monogamous relationship, be prepared to answer (again as honestly as you are able) whether or not that relationship is going to work for you. Nothing you decide here will be written in stone, and the conversations can always be revisited, if you feel like revisiting them. Leave the same door open for your boyfriend. Make it okay for your boyfriend to ask questions about your life, and what you like and don’t like. Answer those questions honestly. Make it okay for you and your boyfriend to share this life together, if that’s what you want. Feel free to ask him the questions you’ve been wondering about. What made him decide to go on PrEP? What kind of relationship is he looking for in the long run? Does he see that relationship happening with you at all?

You may, in fact, blunder your way through this conversation. That’s okay, blunder away. If it helps, let him know in advance that you might blunder this conversation, and ask him to forgive you and hear you out. As articulate and well spoken as I seem to be when writing, I’ve blundered my way through many relationship conversations. I’ve eaten my foot as much as the next guy; and will, likely, do it again in the future. No conversation is perfect and scripted the way you see on stage or in the movies, we all make verbal mistakes or exclude an important detail. Roll with it, pick up the pieces, and move on. It’ll get easier to do each time you have a similar conversation.

You should never feel nervous expressing your true self to a potential partner. If you do feel nervous, examine why you feel that way. If you think that he’ll reject you for being yourself, think about that. In order to stay with this person, you’re going to have to pretend to be someone you’re not for the entire duration of the relationship. Is that what you want? What if the relationship lasts the rest of your life? Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life pretending to be someone just because it pleases your partner, or would you like to be yourself at some point in your life? I know that it’s hard to reject a potential partner because they cannot accept a facet of who we are, and I know it’s tempting to reject that facet of who you are in order to keep someone you like. After all, no one really wants to spend life alone, and it seems like such a small compromise now, but eventually those small compromises add up until you cannot stand who you’ve become. At that point you might as well be alone, because you will resent him, and yourself so much that there will be no joy in that relationship. You cannot change the truth about who you are, not matter how much you try, especially if you are doing it to please another person.

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