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My husband said I should explore my sexuality with others: Best Sex Ever has advice

What am I supposed to do now that I have started a kinky side relationship? A reader asks Arielle


Arielle Egozi
May 16, 2019 8:59PM (UTC)
Best Sex Ever is Salon's advice column on sex, love and relationships. Questions? Send them to Arielle@Salon.com

Dear Arielle,

I’d love some help with my sex life, but I’m not sure what my question is. I’ve been married for 36 years. My husband and I haven’t had sex for the last 12 years because my husband has no sex drive (for a variety of complicated and valid reasons). We still love each other.

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Two years ago, I told him I’d realized I was a sexual submissive, and I wanted and needed a sexual relationship that included D/s and some actual F**KING. Surprisingly, and sadly, his response was he was not into D/s, and he still had no desire for sex. But he wished me well and said I should explore my sexuality.

So, I have been. For the last year, I’ve been in a D/s relationship. It’s going well, I think, except that he’s married (his wife doesn’t know about our relationship), and he lives about 3 hours away.

I guess my question is what am I supposed to do now? I have no experience with anything like this. I never planned on a life like this. It seems backwards and inside-out. But in some ways it’s like coming home or like a key fitting in a lock.

I know this is all vague and unhelpful. I don’t know what you can do with it. If you have any advice, I’d appreciate it.

* * *

Dear Sexy and Submissive,

You don’t need much advice here, you’re just looking for validation. You’ve figured out exactly what you need all on your own, and that’s incredible. Congratulations.

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As “out there” or “strange” as what you’re exploring may feel, you’ve allowed yourself to step into it. Now it’s time to own it.

You say you have questions about your sex life, but you’ve just told me you’ve found what’s made you feel like you’re finally “coming home,” a key so easily slipping into a lock, opening a door into a whole new world. Perhaps a world you never expected, but your world, nonetheless — one that makes you feel like you can really live in it.

There is no one way to be in a D/s relationship, or in a Dominant and submissive dynamic. Talking about vanilla sex (or normative, non-kinky sex) is taboo enough, and anything deviating from the heteronormative penis-in-vagina-to-make-babies sex is still seen as sinful and deviant in our culture. Add some rope play, collars, and crops to the mix, and you might as well be role-playing your way straight into hell (which sounds kind of fun anyway, doesn’t it?).

You’ve shed enough societal pressure to be willing to figure out what you actually WANT from your sexual life — which is huge. Many women never find themselves there and are often never given the space to even ask themselves what they like. You figured it out, and I can not tell you how big of a deal that is. Take a moment to reflect on all the work you’ve done to get there. Breathe it in. Celebrate it, even if it’s just right now. You know what coming home to yourself means. It doesn’t matter that what you found looks very different than what Disney, or your family, or religion, told you it would be. It’s your home, filled with your desires and what makes you happy and fulfilled. You don’t have to let anyone into your home that you don’t want, you don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want.

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This home of yours, what does it look like? How is it furnished? What’s on the walls? Are there windows? What are you wearing when you’re inside it, how do you move, how do you feel?

Anything is allowed, because it yours. It’s not anyone else’s to peek in or judge, and the moment that you realize that you’re the only one that has access to the keys, the moment you can fully step into your home and be free (or as free as your Dom will let you be!).

Media portrayals of BDSM, kink, and powerplay have been useless at best, and outright dangerous at worst. There’s a whole spectrum of play, dynamics, and kinks, and there’s nothing wrong with being into any of them. There’s often a particular shame around identifying as a sexual submissive — for men who identify this way, it goes against what they’ve been taught a “man” should act like or want, and for women, it may feel like they’re playing directly into the hands of the patriarchy.

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The erotic mind is a vast and endlessly creative one. You’re into what you’re into, and as long as you’re not enforcing or imposing your will or desires on anyone else, anything you like is valid. We’ve all been raised in a toxic society that shames us for pleasure. We all have certain ideas to break down about our bodies, our roles in society, and how much power we have in it.

Power is exchanged constantly in every interaction we have. For many, the beauty of playing into Dominance and submission is about releasing the energy it takes to navigate those micro-moments, and fully surrender into a clearly communicated and contained dynamic where everyone involved knows their roles and how to play them. The potential to flex and surrender power is in every choice we make, and it isn’t anything new to bring power into a relationship — it may just be something new to call explicit attention to it.

The D/s space may seem messy for outsiders, but it’s all actually extremely clear. What’s ambiguous is the real world, where lines aren’t as obvious, so let’s shift focus to the slightly messier, harder to navigate tensions that exist outside of these boundaried dynamics.

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You and your husband seem to have wonderful communication, and it sounds like your trust in each other is rock solid. In terms of your sex life, it sounds like he is operating on the basis of compersion, the feeling of joy one has when experiencing another’s joy — the antithesis of jealousy. He wants you to feel fulfilled and happy, and is encouraging you to explore what he understands he can not, or is not ready to, give you. Whatever his reasons for not having sex, they are his to work through. You can support him through it, work with him through it, but ultimately, it will be his choice to decide on whatever he wants to do with that energy, or lack of it. He may be either resigned to his situation, or in full ownership of it, and either one is his choice to make. In the same way, what you do with your sexuality is your choice to make.

You’ve found another man who’s not your husband that you’re compatible with sexually, and everything’s great minus the logistics. He’s far away, which is annoying, but since he’s married and his wife doesn’t know — that’s probably helpful.

This leads us to the other logistical issue — he’s married and his wife doesn’t know. Although your relationship with him probably involves lots of communication, boundary-setting, and consent, his relationship with his wife doesn’t seem to be involving any of those things.

There’s nothing you can do about the way he handles the other relationships in his life, but you do have control over whether you cosign them. This is not a space of judgement, and as long as you dig deep into yourself and move from a place of alignment, you’ll make the decision that’s right for you, but it’s important to remember that although you and your husband have communicated boundaries and what you are and aren’t okay with, your sexual partner hasn’t done the same with his wife. He isn’t engaging consensually with her, and although one can understand the myriad of reasons why, it still doesn’t make it OK.

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It’s definitely worth considering being open to finding new compatible sexual partners. There are apps like Kinkd and Feeld, which are sex and kink-centered, where you can make a profile and feel comfortable being explicit about the sexual interests you’re interested in pursuing. Not only will you meet potential partners that are much closer in vicinity and who are openly practicing ethical non-monogamy, but you’ll realize just how many thousands of people are into the same things you are. It’s also a fun way to continue exploring your sexuality and desire, since you can talk with multiple people and explore your boundaries and what you like and don’t like before ever meeting them.

In my endless quest to learn more about my way of relating to sex and sexuality, I’ve personally used these apps as a way to discover more about what I want, what I don’t, and what I have no idea about. I found Kinkd to be a lot more anonymous — there’s a hesitance to share face pictures and the exchanges often feel nonconsensually dehumanizing. Because Feeld pulls pictures from users’ Facebook profiles, there are faces in the app which helps foster accountability even during the initial stages of communication (although you can choose to have an alias if you don’t want to share your real name, and you can hide your profile from Facebook friends that may also be using the app). Everyone’s out there together, the interface is clean and bright, and every expression of identity and gender is welcome, so nothing about it feels weird or shameful. It’s been designed that way on purpose.

"My advice for anyone who is about to join Feeld is to not be afraid to be open about who you are and what you desire,” Ana Kirova, Feeld’s Product Lead, tells Salon. “Besides offering 20+ gender and sexuality options, which naturally conditions people to be more genuine, accepting and curious, there is a shared understanding between members that Feeld is a safe place to explore, so many members will transparently share what they are interested in. We believe expressing one's desires is a big step towards self-acceptance and pleasure, and have built Feeld as a space to enable and support this."

If you feel comfortable, make a profile. It’s worth looking at who’s in your vicinity, and even if there aren’t many, you can always find some folks to connect and talk to — maybe even engage in some digital play. Being on this app will allow you to take ownership over your sexual desires, and seeing them externalized and written on a profile may prove to be a powerful and worthwhile exercise for you. Using an app will also allow you to see other people’s profiles, where not only will you realize how many folks out there like the same things you do, but how vast sexual interests and desires are. There will be acronyms you’ll have to google (I’ve done it so many times), questions you’ll have to ask, and a space to explore and self-reflect on whether you’d ever be interested in engaging in these new types of play. Be authentic, be honest, and remember you’re not there to pretend to be anything but yourself.

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In terms of making a profile, the most engaging ones “have photo(s) of faces and a clear description of not just a member's desires, but of what interests them on a personal level,” says Casthy Keen, Community and Events at Feeld. “It can also be helpful when members state their level of experience.”

You’ve found what makes you click into yourself and your partner is happy for you to explore it. All you need is to own it. You want permission to wholeheartedly embrace yourself? I’m giving it to you now — celebrate who are you and what you like. You’ve done the work to figure it out, now figure out a way to make it work for you.


Arielle Egozi

Arielle Egozi is a writer, speaker, and Instagrammer (@ladysavaj) who gets asked a lot about sex, periods and social justice. She's the co-founder of Bread, a data-fueled creative lab bringing diverse representation to advertising.

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