I’ve been flirting with a woman. She’s smart, a grad student in a competitive and demanding field, and has only recently come to appreciate her… kinkier… side. She had a FetLife summer. I can’t quantify that, but she was, she says, “slutty.”

She’s concerned about me, about allowing herself to take from me, to give to me, what it seems increasingly clear she wants to take, to give. She’s worried that, as her numbers mount, as her experience grows, she’ll somehow “ruin” herself for her unnamed future husband.

She muses that this husband – the one she hasn’t yet met – will be vanilla, that he won’t appreciate all (the people) she will have done before him. (Tellingly, one of the first questions she asked me was, “How many women have you had sex with?”)

This notion, that sex taints us, makes us less desirable – particularly for women – is deeply ingrained in our society. But it’s wrong.

Or rather, it’s correct in cultural representations of relationships – art, film,TV – but it’s wrong in reality. In reality, what makes relationships work isn’t an absence of experience, it’s a presence of skills and self-knowledge.

I’m, honestly, a much better husband for my dozens (or more) of partners. I know my wants and needs intimately. I communicate them infinitely better than I once did (though still only slightly better than passably). And I’m better – in bed, in life.

While I’m sure my path wasn’t the best one, there is a lesson in it, even for the vanilla: shame is toxic, and utter familiarity with one’s wants, needs, desires is strongly predictive of one’s ability to have a healthy, happy, loving, relationship.

Which is all to say, she really should suck my cock. (Don’t you think?)


  1. She will.

    I, too, was once consumed with numbers. I mean, i have a *list* somewhere. I felt like a teen-age boy, but my concern was upping my numbers, although im not sure what my goals were.

    But it started getting confusing. My list and those numbers were based on a heteronormative paradigm (ugh, sorry) that just wasnt working for me anymore.

    (its funny, i talk like i’m having so much sex. i’m not & my numbers are still pretty low, but im workin on it)

  2. I understand her feelings even though the are toxic. I battle the same things, in the wondering if I’m ruining myself for the future. It’s a conscious decision to see it as a journey that shapes me for the better, but I know I’ll never kick the shame completely.

  3. Dude- what IS FetLife…. I’ve been hearing about it, but I’m pretty fucking vanilla…
    I don’t really wanna get cut or humiliated or tied up or peed on. Is it just about those kinds of things?

    1. It’s not just about anything. It’s worth browsing through. There’s definitely lots of extreme stuff, but there’s also a fair amount of only incidentally kinky people.

  4. I agree with you… and her! I once thought like her, just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realise knowing and being able to communicate about what you want (in bed and elsewhere) is key to a healthy relationship…
    Looking back, I’m thinking it might have been better to have had more experience earlier on… We are not all as lucky as you are to be able to work through a crisis and come back stronger as a couple.

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