When I started this blog, I didn’t understand quite what I was doing. Over time, though, I came to an understanding that, ultimately, what I seek in my extra-marital affairs is safety. I seek a form of safety that I find soothing, that addresses a set of fundamental anxieties that plague me – anxieties born of my multiple maternal abandonments (primarily), but also, of a sexual shame that both of my parents transmitted to me in equal proportion, albeit differently.
I’ve written it before. I’ll write it again. But. My mom abandoned me three times.
When I was 4, she walked out on my father and me. She had good reasons for leaving my father. But me?
When I was 10, my mother didn’t so much “walk out” as “give up.” There was a custody battle. She lost. And she lost by fighting with one hand tied behind her back. By her. There’s a telling of the story in which her tying her hand behind her back was virtuous. I have sympathy for this telling. As an adult. But. The long and the short of it, from my 10-year-old perspective, is that my mother allowed my father to retain primary custody of me. Period.
And then, when I was 19, my mom died. The ultimate abandonment.
I’m a big boy. I’ve wrestled with all these abandonments ad nauseam. I’m not done with that wrestling match, but it’s fair to say that I have a three-dimensional view of my mother – one that maintains empathy for her struggles while remaining faithful to my primal rage and terror.
Sexual shame – my mother
My mom was a second-wave feminist. She believed that the personal is political. That porn is violence against women. That objectification is bad. As political stances, I have no problem with any of this. But. As messages transmitted by a mom to her pubescent/adolescent boy? They’re toxic. I’m mostly free of this particular aspect of my shame. After years and years of work. But still: I carry that shame vestigially. I’m vulnerable. Raw.
Sexual shame – my father
My father came out as gay to my mother when I was 4. He came out to me when I was 17. That 13-year gap – and the disequilibrium its resolution both caused and resolved – left a long, long shadow.
When I began this blog, I was on a slow march to discovering that, for me at least, there’s a form of safety that I crave that is hard (and easy) to come by. That safety? It’s the safety of a certain kind of dominance and submission – in which a woman covenants to me to interact with me in a certain set of ways. This reads as “dominance” and “submission” to many. To others, not so much. Many, many women over the years have objected to my “dominance,” saying, “You’re not a dom!“
I’ve never claimed to be.
I’m on a mission.
My mission? To create relational environments of safety for me, environments in which I can be certain of a few things:
- I will not be forgotten.
- My needs and desires will be front and center – and not judged.
- I will never, ever, have to fear abandonment. (Or rather, I will understand that abandonment – or “transience” – is inevitable. But predictable. And circumstantial, rather than resulting from anything I might do or say.
For the most part, I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve created a series of relationships in which all this has been true. All the most rewarding, gratifying relationships I’ve experienced have featured these three characteristics. And I’ve not allowed myself, very often, to be in relationships in which these characteristics were not front and center. When I have? It’s tended to be brief. And painful.
Safety, danger, and play
Here’s a rule. I make no general claims about this rule, but it applies to me almost invariably: safety is exciting, arousing. Danger? Danger is the most comprehensive turn-off imaginable. Danger and erection are incompatible; danger and ejaculation are mutually exclusive. Sexual fun, for me, depends on safety.
TOO much safety, well, that’s just not hot. It’s not hot if I know that I can have whatever I want whenever I want it. There needs to be a bit of a knife’s edge between safety and danger. This is where, I suppose, excitement actually lies.
I’ve used my extramarital relationships to play with all this – to have relationships in which I can feel safe, but in which I can toy with danger – the danger of abandonment, of obstacles, of impediments. The balance has to be right, of course: too much safety, and it’s not hot; too much danger? And it’s really not hot.
So the danger, for me, generally needs, itself, to be playful: not the danger of abandonment, not the danger of being forgotten. Something else. The danger of… well, of what? Of incompatibility? Of overstepping? Even while in a zone of safety….
At its best, the way this works is, I ask for too much, and my partner tells me I’ve asked for too much. She both appreciates my desire for more – is flattered by it – and stands, solidly, in her refusal to give it – all while remaining committed to my gratification. And her sense of self.
I’ve written lots about this using the tag “compliance.” I’ve said all sorts of things that are contradictory, and/but mutually reinforcing. They all boil down to, “Give me what I want. Until you can’t. And when you can’t, be sad that you can’t, and work with me to give me something at least as gratifying to me.” THAT is fun for me. I always, always, find a way to push just past anyone’s comfort zone; how she handles that? Well, that’s where the rubber meets the road. Does she over-promise and under-deliver? Does she acquiesce and give me more than she should, were she to be true to herself? (Hint: neither of those is hot to me; each, in its own way, is toxic.)
Or, does she communicate? Compulsively?
Does she tell me what she can and can’t do? Does she respect my hunger? Is she flattered by it, even as it exceeds her capacity to fulfill it? And, when that happens, does she treat it as a shared problem? (Hint: THIS is the fucking hottest thing. Ever.)
I’ll stop here. For now.