Tinder date

On her heels, she’s my height. Maybe an inch taller.

She has bright blue eyes, wide, clear. A big, open smile. She wore a tweedy skirt, tight, flattering. She has a great, shapely ass. Toned legs. Her arms are muscular from regular yoga.

She’s a happy participant in my city’s BDSM “scene.”

I haven’t written much about this, about the “scene,” but it’s something about which I have a conflicted set of feelings. On the one hand, I’m envious of those whose lives are just openly, joyously, rapturously, sexual, kinky even. For me, the expression of my sexuality always has had, somewhere in it, the fact of shame. Whether positively, as a presence, or negatively, as an absence. In my current state it’s mostly in that latter form. But even as an absence, it remains a presence.

Adam Phillips, in Monogamy, wrote:

Not everyone believes in monogamy, but everyone lives as though they do. Everyone is aware of lying or wanting to tell the truth when loyalty or fidelity are at stake. Everyone thinks of themselves as betraying or betrayed. Everyone feels jealous or guilty, and suffers the anguish of their preferences. And the happy few who apparently never experience sexual jealousy are always either puzzled about this or boast about it. No one has ever been excluded from feeling left out. And everyone is obsessed by what they are excluded from. Believing in monogamy, in other words, is not unlike believing in God.

This is a bit like how I feel about shame in sex. Even when I don’t feel it, I’m aware that I’m not feeling it, rather than its being simply irrelevant to my experience. It’s an essential component, even in its absence.

There’s something about the complete indifference to shame that permeates the kink and BDSM and swinger culture that is not just foreign to me, but an affirmative turn-off. It’s almost as if part of what excites me about good sex, whether it’s vanilla or kinky, is its triumph over the possibility of shame. It’s part, I think, of what draws me to dominance and submission: for (so) many women, submission is a way, personally, of escaping shame, of accessing joyousness, by symbolically abandoning agency.

If shame is rejected as even a possibility, structurally, then I look around thinking, “But what’s the point?” Sex, kink, then is reduced in my mind to a physical sensation, not an intellectual or emotional experience.

I see the irony here – irony that exists on two levels.

On the first level, many “vanilla” people read my blog and see me reducing sex to the physical, distancing it from the emotional.

And then, on the other level, kinky people answer that “But what’s the point?” question by pointing to power exchange, interpersonal dynamics, negotiation, communication, new relationship energy, and all sorts of other things.

So I see the irony. But that’s not my experience at all. As I’ve written often, I really prefer sex with women I like, women with whom I have relationships. When it’s just the insertion of Tab A into Slot B, it bores me. And while I’m not saying those in the scene are wrong about power exchange, dynamics, etc., I can’t dispense with the fact that the whole thing inevitably feels a bit… cold… to me. (It’s telling that “cold” is the opposite of “hot.”)

My date was fun.

I liked her. She’s interesting, edgy, smart. But I felt about her the same way I feel about the “scene” – like sex or adventure with her would be interesting, and maybe fun, but somehow, not at all hot. This isn’t, in any way, a diss of her. It’s a reaction to that world.

And what it all made me think? Is that I should get me a date who folds smoothly into my experience and conception of sex, and bring her into the BDSM scene with me, as a fellow traveler, and see where/how it goes.

One day, maybe I’ll “play” with my date. I don’t know. But these are the thoughts that I’m left with.


  1. So she’s fun and interesting, you liked her, presumably the date went well, but you really aren’t interested in pursuing anything with her (right now). I’m curious since you don’t talk much (ever?) about what happens when she’s interested (assuming she is) and you aren’t: How do you handle that?

    E.g. Do you just say so at the end of the date? Email after a day or two? Tinder-chat? Give reasons? Be vague?


    1. Short answer: I think it was mutual. Nothing explicit needed be said. In general? More broadly? That’s a good topic for a post. It’s, honestly, rare. By the time I go out with women, I usually know. Tinder, admittedly, changes that a bit….

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