Content: Sexual Relationships. Contracts, both explicit and unspoken. Mentions of me being an ass to the nicest fella I know.
First, if you’re a US citizen, please make a plan to vote and do so. Vote like your life depends on it because it does. Not just your life, either. Black folks, Indigenous folks, People of Color, queer, trans, and nonbinary people, disabled people, folks with uteruses. The planet and the millions of species facing extinction.
Just vote, okay?
Now that’s out of the way. This week’s Beyond #fetchat prompt is about D/s power exchange contracts. I have zero practical experience in that arena. I’ve researched them, but I’ve never had one.
The subject got me to thinking about the hundreds of informal social contracts in sexual relationships. Things that go unspoken and assumed from how often partners have sex to what positions are off-limits. One of the most damaging is this tacit agreement that what makes your thighs quiver today won’t ever change.
Because people change.
A massive understatement, I know. So why, in our relationships, do we expect someone’s sexual interests to remain static? It’s ludicrous. When I married my spouse fourteen years ago, I wasn’t out as genderqueer. I don’t think I even knew the word genderqueer.
At the time, I was two years into my recovery journey as a sexual assault/incest survivor. Unpacking my gender wasn’t my priority, and my dysphoria was manageable. In retrospect, my anxiety surrounding body image and gender presentation might say otherwise.
The rearview is always a little clearer than the road ahead.
At the time, I hadn’t explored kink. Asking for the sex I wanted was hard for me. I didn’t emerge from therapy a fully-realized sexual aficionado. I was awkward and confused, sometimes unsure and unable to articulate what I wanted in a way my spouse could understand.
One time, in particular, I hurt him deeply, lashing out and projecting my own fears about sex onto him.
We’d been fucking. Mr. Crispy was trying to hold on to his erection until I came. I was going through a period where coming was next to impossible. Our unspoken focus during sex was on orgasming instead of pleasure. I was frustrated by my inability to come and embarrassed about my ability to please my partner. Instead of checking in, I made a shitty comment about him taking forever to come.
It was awful.
The incident woke us up to the importance of using all our exceptional communicating skills to talk about what we expected from sex. How did that happen in a relationship that is founded on honest communication?
Easy. We talked about everything, but what sexual expression meant to us and what we needed. Instead, we operated under the idea that our bodies and minds needed the same things they needed when we first started dating.
I still cringe when I think of how hurt he looked at that moment. The good news is that we both took that incident to heart and added sex to our regular check-ins.
It’s been a decade since that happened.
We’ve continued to change, because, as I said, change is constant. This past year has been full of personal revelations. I guess quarantine has inspired self-reflection in the Stagg household.
Mr. Crispy recently came out as grey ace (grey asexual). It was an incredibly freeing discussion. Sexual intimacy has become fuller, more exciting, and more fulfilling for both of us since we talked about our needs.
But I can see how pear-shaped it could have gone had we not spent the past decade creating space for sexual communication. I’m so proud of Mr. Crispy for being true to himself and completely blown away by our healthy, queer little family.
My final thought: Be you kinkster or vanilla, meditate on the unspoken sexual agreements you stick to, with yourself, and to your partners. Commit to ending the silence and embrace your needs with acceptance and care.
Be well, be wonderful, and above all, be you.