Like a moth, I fly toward, rather than away from, a whole host of flames: the flame of jealousy, the flame of rejection, the flame of abandonment, the flame of disappointment.

Here’s a little vignette: Charlotte and I have been doing a dance around jealousy for months now. She is jealous of every interaction I have with another woman. I’m jealous of every interaction she has with another man. She gives me much more material. Recently, after a spate of promiscuity – at least some of which was jealously aimed at me – Charlotte offered me what she referred to as 24/7 control.

There’s one area, though, where – although she offered it – she wasn’t able, hasn’t been able, repeatedly hasn’t been able – to offer me the control she agrees to provide: incorporating her relationship with me into her communications with other men.

I should be clear: I have not, generally, sought in any way to control or constrain Charlotte’s interactions with other men. Rather, I’ve sought to ensure that I remain in her mind when she communicates with other men. During this particular period of ostensibly 24/7 control, for example, I asked that she simply send me a photo of her pretty face every time she texts a man, and tells me whom it is she is texting – and, generally, about the exchange. I don’t have approval rights. I don’t have any rights. My main goal simply is to ensure – and to provide myself with evidence – that Charlotte is thinking with me even as she’s interacting with others. That she’s not forgetting me. That I remain in her mind.

Several times, now, it’s become apparent that – although Charlotte agreed to this, although she signed up for it, although she told me it was fine, even good – it just isn’t something she is, in the moment, able to deliver.

So what’s it all mean for me? My reflexive reaction was to say, “Ok, you fucked up – no contact with any men, on any terms, for two days.” But I know two things about Charlotte: first, this would be really fucking hard for her. Both because she uses men a bit like I use writing (and, sometimes, women): to feel alive, to medicate, to escape. And depriving us junkies of our dope isn’t fun punishment; it’s torture. And second, it likely would not work: because of the first problem, Charlotte’s likely just to violate the punishment and either not tell me or tell me. And I’m not sure which would be worse, but both would suck. Differently.

So it’s on me to devise some better punishments – and policies. Punishments that will both be fun (for me) and that will make future slips less likely. And policies that are easier for Charlotte to follow.

There’s a subtext here: Charlotte was a little excited when she realized I’d be punishing her. She’s discovering a little “bratty” streak. My own relationship to bratty subs is a bit conflicted. I don’t mind a little playful brattiness, situated firmly in the context of devoted compliance. A snarky comment, a playful smart-ass response to a request, etc. – all subject to immediate, smiling correction. If I ask for x, and you say “I don’t want to!” or “No!” that’s fine. If. I’m in a position to slap your face or ass (metaphorically or otherwise) and you can, instantly, correct yourself, “Just kidding! Sorry! Of course!”

But this form of brattiness – this communication through in/action, in a way that’s oblivious to – or worse, directly informed sadistically by – my wishes and needs? With delight taken in the lash it attracts?

That’s, actually, not hot to me. Not. Even. Slightly.

So I’m pondering punishment. Charlotte offered up that she wouldn’t text anyone today. Fine, I said. That’s nice. But that’s an offering; not punishment.

I’ve asked Charlotte to start doing a bunch of edging for me. That will point us in the right direction, I think.

I was just thinking about having her delete a couple of apps from her phone/deactivate accounts for a period of time. Feeld? Hinge? TikTok? These are possibilities.

Mainly what I want, though, in the way of punishment, is something that actually hurts her. And not in a welcome way. So that’s what I’m thinking about…..

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