Posts Tagged ‘dating’

To All the Tops Who Are Afraid to Make a Move

To All the Tops Who Are Afraid to Make a Move

February 25, 2014  |  essays  |  12 Comments

One of my biggest challenges as a top—and as a feminist dominant, and as someone who is well versed in and vehemently requires agency and consent in my sexytime play—is making assertions of what I want. This is especially hard if I’m meeting or playing with somebody new. I want to be bold, domineering (in good ways), bossy (also in good ways), sexy—toppy. I want to demand and take and get just a little more rough than expected.

But: I won’t do that, until I have consent. Until I have a very, very clear green light that my advances—my dominance, my toppy-ness—is wanted and desired.

Nothing wrong with that, right? I want to do dirty things with the people I date and play with, and I want them to want me to do those things, otherwise I don’t want those things. In fact, one could argue (and I do) that my wanting to do those things is contingent upon them wanting me to do them. I won’t get it up for somebody who doesn’t want me.

But see, sometimes because I am not making big bold moves, or acting with brassy ballsy swagger, people think I am not flirting with them, or don’t like them, or aren’t interested, or am “not that dominant.”

(Well, in terms of that last one, they can suck it—I believe in consensual dominance, and I don’t believe doms (or anybody) has a right to go around spewing their swagger on anybody they come across. I take up my space, you take up yours. Unless we’re in a explicit power dynamic, I don’t assume that I get to be dominant with you. I guess that’s called boundaries.)

But those other things … that depends. Sometimes I really, really, really, like somebody, and I want to do things with them to them for them, but I am not getting a clear green light, so I do nothing.

And this can be crippling! This can mean that a perfectly good top wrings their hands and wonders, wonders, wonders, whether or not they should make a move, but that the other person is simultaneously thinking, I thought they were a top? Aren’t they going to do something?

That sucks, right? Here’s a few ideas.

1. Make it clear you are (kinda sorta completely) inclined to topping

Talk about it. Bring it up. “I tend to like to be in charge in bed.” Talk about topping and bottoming. Talk about the kind of things you like to do. Do you like rough sex? Extensive amounts of bondage? Strap-on sex nine times out of ten? Always being the one who orders at a restaurant? Opening doors? Holding someone down while they struggle?

And … ask them what they like. Talk about it. Get their Fetlife fetish list from their own expressive mouth. Ask again. Ask about specific things. Be fascinated by their answers. Listen closely.

This might be elementary for you, but I find that just about everybody doesn’t talk or communicate about their own desires enough. ‘Cause here’s the thing: They change constantly. Most of us don’t want the same thing all day every day. So it is a constant practice to be in the moment, figure out what we want, and communicate it clearly.

2. Make it clear you are waiting for a green light

Or, explicitly ask for a green light. Many people who are inclined to bottoming or submission, or, often, those who would be into going out with a top, are frequently waiting for the top to make the move. Perhaps they think that the way they’re batting their eyelashes, or the way they shined their leathers, or the way they are rubbing their thighs together, is so fucking obvious that of course you know they want you. But still, you are waiting for that green light.

So tell them that.

“I would so love to kiss you, but I’m waiting for the right sign / you to ask me / the perfect moment.” “I know I said I’m a top, but the only way I get all … toppy with somebody is if I am clear they want me to. Are you into that?” “I have this thing about consent—it’s super important to me. So I tend to wait until I get a really really clear green light to make any sorts of moves. But after I get the green light … ”

(Then do that sexy-ass sly top grin you practice in the mirror. Come on, I know you do.)

And then, pay attention to their reaction.

So if you growl, “I really want to throw you down, right now,” and their eyes get all huge and they start thinking about all the grass stains they’ll get, and they say, “Uhhh…” you will know that is not consent. But when they take a step closer to you and say, “I have a really good mattress at my house,” you’ll know they are at least interested.

I hesitate to talk about how consent can be expressed non-verbally, through physical communication, though I do believe that it can be. It’s just harder to pinpoint and talk about, and much easier to misconstrue, miscommunicate, or mistake. For the sake of nervousness or fear or making big bold topping moves, it is always, always safer to get enthusiastic verbal consent specifically.

Regardless of how much explicit consent they give you, always be paying attention for hesitation in their body language or speech. That probably means it’s time to back up, and slow down, and check in.

This can be used when escalating all sorts of play, by the way, not just the first kiss. It could be useful for that moment when you want to get your strap-on out, or when you want to put them in spread eagle bondage, or when you want to hold them down and rough them up, or when you want to ask them—tell them, demand them—to go into the bathroom and take their panties off and give them to you. Sometimes you just don’t know if it’s the right time to do something new, or to escalate, and you don’t know if you have their consent for it. So ask. Make it clear what you’re looking for, so they can give it to you (or not). They just might not know that’s what you’re waiting for.

Sometimes, when I start getting the feeling that it’s time to move in for a kiss or to escalate physical touch with somebody, I make a move kinda like I’m about to do the thing I want to do, but then I catch myself, and say, “Oh, sorry—I really want to kiss you / put my hands on your stockings / grab your belt / take you down right now. That okay?” (Sometimes I say this in a sexy growly voice near their neck or ear while I decidedly do not touch or kiss them because I don’t know if that’s okay—yet.)

And I wait. For their reaction, response, and enthusiastic consent made clear.

3. Still afraid you’re being an asshole?

Here’s the thing: Asking somebody for something, or asserting a decision or a preference, is not being an asshole. You’re not being an asshole when you say, “I’d love to take you out. How about we meet at this great cafe I love on Sunday for brunch?” You’re not being an asshole when you’re on a wandering-around-the-park date and you say, “I’d love a coffee. Want to duck into this coffee shop for a bit?” You’re not being an asshole when you point at a shady spot under a tree and say, “Let’s go sit there.” You’re not being an asshole when you get back to your place and they are on your couch all sexy and biting their lips and you say, “I can’t wait to play with you.”

You absolutely are being an asshole when you don’t honor their response to your suggestion or offer or preference.

If you say, “Let’s go to this great steakhouse!” And they say, “I’m a vegetarian …” When you say, “Great! Meet you there at 7,” you are being an asshole.

Wah waaaaah. Sad trombone. Don’t do that.

But making the offer? Not an asshole. Suggesting a change in place? Great! Shows your flexibility and thoughtfulness. Requesting a date at a particular place? Not too much (until, you know, they tell you otherwise).

Sometimes, being assertive and suggesting things is a relief to the other person. We often defer to each other (especially people we like), saying, “Whatever is fine!” And we mean it! But when someone drives the social decisions, it can be very useful. What’s not useful (have I made this clear yet?), and is firmly in asshole territory, is overriding what someone else expresses they want or don’t want.

So make suggestions. Request—and get—the green light, so you can be confident that your glorious toppy-ness is fully desired and wanted.

PS: I hope this is clear, but just in case it isn’t: This has absolutely nothing to do with getting someone to do what they don’t want to do. Fuck that. This has to do with communicating enthusiastic consent. Okay, clear? Cool.

This week in photos: Yosemite & back

Looking into valley from tunnel view

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February 24, 2014  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue, “The Pink Dress”

January 1, 2012  |  dirty stories  |  8 Comments

Do y’all remember the Sugarbutch Star stories? It was a series where readers sent in a scenario and I wrote up the story. This is the last of the 5 stories from the 2008 “contest,” the others being Eileen, Matt, Green-Eyed Girl, and Maze. This story idea comes from blkndblue.

Warning: This story is long, about 18 pages. Click the “read more” at the end to read the final scene (it’s worth it, promise). I figure it’s a good way to kick off a (happy, sexy) new year.

Thanks to Dacia & BB Rydell for help with edits!

Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue
THE PINK DRESS

Emily emerges from the dressing room slowly, suddenly shy, though I’ve seen her naked in dozens of compromised positions. She fidgets with the dress, her hair, sucks in her stomach, but her eyes are lit up and she’s biting back a playful smile. She wants to wear this dress. Her inner three-year-old princess is aflame. “What do you think?” Emily asks; but the question isn’t really about my preference. She wants me to want it so she has permission to wear it. Then she doesn’t have to want it for herself; she is absolved of her own desires. I want to her to have permission to want anything on her body that she is drawn to, regardless of its gendered implications.

I finger the skirt of the baby pink dress, its satin fabric, abundant for its near-full skirt. She looks amazing in the plunging neckline in a gentle scoop, which shows off her round breasts generously. Sleeveless, it gathers at the waist where a thick white band wraps around, tying in a ribbon at the back. It could have been a bridesmaid’s dress, or a prom dress, or maybe someone’s fancy party dress. She’s been eyeing this dress in the window display, and today was the day it came down. She asked them to set it aside for her.

“So?” She is trying so hard to be patient. The words come out in a rush. “Do you like it?”

I come up behind her as she looks in the full-length mirror barely visible behind racks of gently used clothes. I wrap my arm around her waist, pull her gently back to me as she sighs, then smooths the skirt down.

“I think it’s perfect,” I say, my lips next to her ear. “No question.”

“Really?” She’s not sure I mean it, but she wants me to. “But it’s so … femme.”

“Yeah, it is,” I say.

“But, I’m not femme!” She argues.

“What do you mean? Of course you are,” I say.

“No, I mean …” she struggles for the words. “I’m not high femme. I hate that term. I almost always wear jeans and tee shirts.” We’ve been dating for on and off for a few years. We both have primary partners, but we make time to play and go on dates. When she dresses up, she adds heels and lipstick, rarely anything more. She has some impressive lingerie, but seldom wears dresses. She wears power suits for her professional office work, where she has to keep control and is in charge of a dozen people’s activities on a daily basis. She spends a lot of time looking put together, climbing the corporate ladder, and fighting the male privilege in her office, and she’d rather kick around in something comfortable and durable when she has the option.

“I know that’s what you prefer, and it’s perfect—your ass looks great in jeans,” I counter. “Look, you’re twice the femme most self-identified high femmes are. You’re at home in your body, awake in your skin, not judgmental about your own waistline or anyone else’s. And you have your circle of femme friends without gossip or backstabbing. If that’s not high femme, I don’t know what is.”

“Yeah, but you have to say that.”

“And I want to. I know the dress is a stretch … but it’s amazing on you. It looks like it was made for you. Doesn’t it?” I ask the passing sales girl. “Doesn’t it look like it was made for her?”

“It is, like, so cut perfectly for your body,” the girl, probably barely twenty, replies. “It makes your curves look even more curvy. It’s practically, like, perfect.”

“Yeah. Perfect,” I echo, and Emily grins at herself in the mirror.

“It is, isn’t it. Yeah. Okay,” she kisses my cheek and zips back into the dressing room, and buys the dress.

*

The date is my idea, and a surprise. I enlist her friend Sam, a gay boy also known as Serena, who does a fierce drag queen act and has every feminizing, over-the-top accessory one would need. We’ve been out drinking and galavanting dozens of nights in the past few years. Sometimes Emily and I go see him perform. Last time, he did a Judy Garland number with an incredible outfit from the forties that made him look like a black and white movie star.

“I could never do that,” Emily must’ve whispered to me five times that night, but the spark in her eyes told me that she wanted to. I knew Sam would love to see Emily all dressed up.

And tonight, with this pink dress, he’s going to help. I enlist Sam because Emily doesn’t have the femme things I need, and I can’t afford to buy them all. I meet Sam around the corner and pick up the fluffy underskirt that’s used to puff out full skirts, called a crinoline.

I knock on Emily’s door, and she throws it open. “I’m here to pick up the dress,” I say, after kissing her hello. She fetches it from her bedroom, still in the thrift store’s lavender-colored paper bag with their logo on it, and hands it to me across the threshold.

“Thank you. Now, you remember what I told you? What’s the plan?”

“First, I’m getting my nails done across the street. Then I’m going to go to Sam’s at 5pm to get my hair and makeup done. Then I’ll come meet you at your place, and bring the bra and panties.” I know she doesn’t wear the white bra and panty set with the lace trim often. I like that she saves it for me.

“What time, at my apartment?”

“Seven thirty.”

“Good. Perfect. Don’t be late,” I add. As if she would be. She shifts her weight from foot to foot very slightly and I can see her ears beginning to flush pink.

I tuck the box with the crinoline under the arm that holds her dress in a shopping bag and draw her to me with the other, smiling as our faces get closer, drinking in her skin and hair and the sweet way her body fits.

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Good girl,” I say, and kiss her.

*

At seven twenty-eight, she knocks on my apartment door. I greet her with more kisses and lead her into the bedroom before she sets her purse down. Some of the things are laid out on the bed: the crinoline skirt, white thigh-high stockings, a white garter belt, and her new pink dress, which I had dry cleaned and pressed just this morning. I see her hand flicker slightly as she reaches out and touch the dress, then pulls it back and makes a fist.

“Are you ready for tonight?” I take a seat in the small armchair in the corner of my bedroom and I take a sip of the glass of water I’d poured just before she arrived, with extra ice so she can hear the clink of it in the glass. She nods. I notice Emily picks at her nails, then stop when she realizes she is probably chipping her nail polish. She must be nervous. The icy liquid is cool in my mouth and I feel it run down my throat. Her chestnut hair is mostly a silhouetted shadow, but I can see it is piled on top of her hair in spirals and curls in a way that is much more complicated than she would usually entertain. It reveals the curve of her neck, which swoops into her collarbone and, later, will lead right to her cleavage.

“Did Sam send you with jewelry?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“Get it out, and put it on the top of the dresser.” I cleared it in anticipation. She goes to her bag, removes a couple small boxes and a tiny clutch purse, then arranges it all so each are neat and not touching, then goes back to standing, shifting her weight from foot to foot and looking around the room.

“Take off your clothes,” I say. “Slowly. Fold each piece and put them on the bed.” She starts with her v-neck grey fitted girly tee shirt, quickly pulling it over her head. “I said slowly,” I say, and she pauses, moves a little slower. She folds the thin fabric easily and places it on the bed, then steps out of her low, simple black flats. She’s not wearing a bra; she often doesn’t, not encouraging the curve of her breasts to be shown off. Her bare skin glows in the lamplight. She pulls down her tight blue jeans and steps out of them, folding them a little thoughtlessly, but I don’t tell her to slow down again. She slides her plain black cotton underwear down over her legs and adds it to the pile. She fingers the worn grey tee shirt and looks at it longingly, then glances at the lingerie laid out on the bed and moves her hand to touch it, smiling as her fingertips make contact, her face relaxing.

She stands again, naked this time, crosses her arms in front of herself, then drops her arms and holds one wrist with her hand. After a moment she straightens up, and clasps her hands behind her back like she is presenting herself to me, a blank canvas. She shifts her weight from foot to foot, drops her hip, but tries to stay still. She bites her lip.

“Very nice,” I murmur from my corner. I uncross and recross my legs, ankle to knee, and pick up the cane from next to my chair. I can see her nipples, even in the shadows, hard and dark. “Get the bra and panties out of your bag, lay them on the bed.” She does. “Now, get dressed. Start with the garter belt.” She takes a breath and turns to the bed, picking it up and sliding it up her legs, securing it in place.

“Now the stockings,” I say. “And the bra. Leave the panties off, for now.” She dresses quickly, fumbling a little with the clasps and the delicate fabric, sitting on the side of the bed to fasten the stockings to the lace. “Now the petticoat.” She looks at me a little questioning, then realizes I mean the white crinoline skirt, and pulls it in a flourish from the bed to step into it.

“The dress,” I say. She pulls it over her head, evens it over the petticoat, and does her best to tie the white bow behind her back. With the extra layers of under the skirt, the pink dress is even more stunning than it was in the store. “And the jewelry,” I say, as she admires herself in the mirror hanging over the dresser. She takes a step closer and puts small two-stone droplet earrings in; they’re delicate, just an inch or so long, hanging just enough to move when she does and sparkle when the light hits them. She reaches for the matching necklace and raises her elbows to buckle the clasp behind her neck. Her fingers tremble and it takes her three tries to hook it correctly.

Emily steps back and looks at her reflection, buzzing, hardly containing the thrill of happiness at her own reflection. Her smile is as big as I’ve ever seen it. She turns her head, then shakes it to see the sparkle of the earrings, tilts her chin down to see her fancy hair-do, fluffs the skirt out to the side, and finally twirls, watching the dress in the mirror and laughing, giddy.

“Come here,” I say. She turns her head to me and takes short, quick steps across the room to where I am sitting next to the window in her stockinged feet. She notices the cane I have been stroking.

“Is that for me?” she asks.

“It’s for your ass. For later.” I set it on the table with my glass and reach out for her waist, pull her on to my lap. “Very nice,” I say, stroking the skin on her arm, the the slick fabric of the top of the dress, brushing my fingers against her breasts and nipples. I offer my mouth for a kiss and she wraps her arms around my neck, opening her mouth, gently kissing back. “You look gorgeous.”

“You really think so?” she bats her eyelashes. She looks like a sunrise, peeking over the horizon, breaking the dark, reaching up into the sky. She still looks like herself—just polished up a little, enhanced, prettied.

“Really. Very much.” We kiss again and I get lost in her lips, her tongue, the way her hands grasp gently at my neck and shoulders. I let my hands trace her stockings, wander up under the many layers under her dress. “Do you like the crinoline?” I ask.

“Oh yes,” she breathes. “Is that what Sam gave you?”

“Yes. On loan.”

“It’s so … pretty.”

“You’re pretty, sweetheart.”

She smiles shyly, kisses me again.

“Did you like getting your nails done, and your hair and make-up done?”

“Yes! It was really fun. More than I thought it would be. I thought it would be weird but it makes me feel fancy. And important. And … ” she lowers her voice, her eyes a little and brings her hands up to straighten my tie, pinch my collar between her fingers. “And I knew I was doing it for you. That you would like it.”

“Mmm. And you did a very good job getting all ready for me.” I find the patch of skin at the top of her stockings, her sweet smooth inner thigh, and rest my hand there gently.

“I like doing what you say.” It lets her mind rest, she’s explained to me, and is a relief to trust enough to follow orders instead of second guessing and being in charge of everything.

“I know. And I have a few more things to do before we go to dinner. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” I toss her a questioning look and she corrects herself. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.” I take a breath. “I’m going to warm you up for the evening. I want to give you something that will serve as a reminder that this body—” I shift my hand quickly and palm her pussy, making her gasp, then quickly attempt to maintain her composure and keep her eyes open, looking at me, “—this pretty little body of yours is mine to play with tonight.”

She nods, quick, tiny movements of her head, and her eyes flicker with a hint of nervousness.

“Are you worried?”

“No, sir. I know you will take good care of me.”

“That’s right. Good.” I move my hand away and she breathes in, her thighs quiver. I lean in to kiss her again, bring my hands to her waist and then up to cup her chin, neck, the back of her head, careful not to mess up her hair. She relaxes, her mouth softens. She tastes like cream.

“Get up and bend over my lap. I’m going to make some marks on your ass before we go out.”

She delicately places herself over me with more care than usual, though we’ve been in this position many times. She doesn’t want to muss herself. This chair is perfect for over-the-knee spankings, with wide, low arm rests. Her stockinged tiptoes just barely reach the floor. She arches her back automatically, presenting her ass and slit to my right hand.

I caress her neck and shift my arm to cradle her collarbone and begin peeling up the layers of her pretty pink dress and petticoat. The peach of her ass is perfectly framed by her stockings and garter belt, the layers pushed up to her hips. Softly, I bring my hand to her thighs and ass and begin caressing.

“So nice,” I murmur into her ear. I start with some rapid tap-tap-taps with my fingers tight together on the sweet spots on her ass, the ones that make the flesh shake and that makes her muscles relax. She sighs, keeps breathing, keeps filling her lungs and breathing into the increasing sensation. She’s done enough yoga, we’ve played with enough sensation play—she knows how to open.

I keep going with light taps and occasional full-handed gentle swats until I can see a pink flush starting, just a hint. She loves being hit; she snuggles down into it as if I was reading her a bedtime story. I increase my swing, raising my arm higher, and give her a few open-palmed, but not too hard yet. Her skin is fair and it is easy to leave long-lasting marks, easy to bruise and break capillaries on the surface of her skin.

Which is exactly what I want.

I continue, warming up her ass until it is bright and hot, flushed and red, beginning to show some darker parts where it will be easy to leave marks. She moans, sinking into me, humming with pleasure. When we are both warm, when my shoulder feels like it is loose and liquid and easy, I raise my arm high and let fly a few hard wallops, pausing in between, but just for a moment, to let her react. Her body shudders and I feel her tense, then relax, over my lap. I can feel the impact of my hand through her and onto my thighs, can feel her growing heat and intensity. I let my hand down again, and again, allowing gravity to pull me, sucking up the power she’s handing over while I have her upturned and stunned, ready to take more.

I lean down so my mouth is by her ear again. “You are doing so well. Your ass is nice and red and starting to bruise. I’m going to get my cane out now.”

She manages to move her neck slightly, twists her head and looks up at me, and nods just a little. I grip the cane from the side table and it feels hard, solid in my hand. It slices through the air with a hiss and I love the way it extends my arm. The last time we used the cane, she told me every time she sat down, she thought about what I’d done and how I’d used her. That it made her wet to have to act like she could sit normally, when really it was excruciatingly painful. That’s how I want it to be tonight. Something to take away from the terror of being so femme, over the top femme, in public. Something to distract her.

The first hit with the cane is a little off, and not too hard. She gasps but does not squirm. The second is two centimeters toward her thighs and harder. Immediately a light stripe appears. She jumps a little and lets one arm drop, grabbing on to my pant leg, as she lets out her breath in a long thin stream through her teeth. The third, quicker now, is at a different angle, crossing the first two. She sucks air back in and lets out a laugh, bubbling like champagne, thrilling and tickling my nose. Good. She’s warm, dropping into that blurry area past the sharp pain and into sensation.

The next dozen or so are more rapid, in succession, some lighter and some fiercely hard and biting. She takes it well. She gasps and begins squirming, but not away, not off of my lap, just to wriggle and shake off some of the building energy. I fall into a pattern of hard-hard-quick-quick-soft-caress where my eyes glaze and my cock hardens. I can see her slit becoming wet, swollen, as pink as her sweet round ass cheeks.

The striping is beautiful, thin welts rising on bull’s eye circles where my hands bruised her first. I can already see some small places where my handiwork reveals itself.

I lean low against her ear again. “It’s going to hurt for a while when you sit,” I say, as a slide the cane away and bring my hand to her singed bottom. It is so tender and sensitive, like stretched skin over the frame of a drum, reverberating with every touch.

She moans. “Thank you, sir.”

I bring her up onto my lap again to hold her for a minute, her ass already uncomfortable. Sitting at the restaurant is going to be excruciating. I stroke her hair and neck, offer her some water and she takes it. She snuggles against my chest, lets me sooth her, then rocks a little on my lap and I realize she is searching for my cock.

“Looking for something?” I ask.

She falters, remembers herself. “No, sir.”

“Later.”

She nods, tries not to look disappointed.

“I have one more thing for you before we leave. Ready?”

She nods again, brings one hand up to her mouth to bite one finger, a childish gesture of nervousness.

I almost laugh. “Nothing bad, sweet girl. This is a present. A surprise.”

Her eyes light up as she slips off my lap. I go over to the closet where I stashed the bag, then sit on the bed, patting the bedspread next to me. She shuffles slowly over the thin carpet in her stockings, smoothing out the skirt of her dress and walking slowly because her legs are still weak from being bent over my lap and beaten. She brings her hands behind her, to touch her ass, as she walks, and I can tell the muscles are already sore.

I hand her the bag. She gives me a shy smile and pulls the shoe box out of the plain white shopping bag. Her eyes widen. She realizes she only brought the flat black shoes she came in.

“Oh!” She exclaims when she opens the box. They took me a few days to find: the exact pink shade as the dress, with a small strap over the arch of her foot, delicate white trim, and a tall, thin four inch heel. She pulls them both out and pushes the wrapping aside on the bed, holds them flat in her hands, grinning. “May I?”

I slip off the bed to kneel in front of her, holding my hand out. She blushes—adorable—and hands the shoes to me, offers me her foot so I can slide them on, one at a time.

She laughs, and twirls. “I feel like these are fancy shoes from my fairy godmother, and I’m Cinderella!”

“You look amazing,” I say, standing up, and offer my hands to help her stand. It may take a minute to get used to them. I take her in my arms again and she melts into me, offering her mouth for more kisses.

When I pull away I take the delicate white panties still laid out on the bed and offer them to her. “Put these on, we wouldn’t want you getting your dress any more wet than it already is. Freshen up your lipstick and let’s go to dinner. Are you hungry?” Her lipstick is smeared from kissing me, and she hasn’t noticed. It’s probably on my mouth. I quickly wipe my mouth in the bathroom mirror and when I come back in, she’s sitting on the bed to step into her panties, pulling them up over her shoes and stockings, leaving them on the outside, so they can be the first thing that comes off later. She stands and picks up the tiny clutch purse she laid out on the dresser, checking her make-up in the dresser mirror. I slide my suit coat over my shoulders, watching her twist the lipstick up and pucker her lips. She would never do these things on her own, but she is flushed and giddy and thrilled, ready to go.

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Ask Me Anything: Non-Cheesy “Self-Help”

May 2, 2011  |  advice, reviews  |  2 Comments

J-femme wrote:

Happy Anniversary! I think I’ve been reading almost that long!

You posted something that looked like a pie chart once. It dealt with something like life goals, or values, or time management as it relates to life goals or values–that I remember being really interested in and haven’t been able to find since on your site.

It was like a non-cheesy “self-help” book (sort of). So my question is– do you have any idea what I’m talking about and what the name of the book is? And barring that or with that what are some nonsmut, nonfiction books you use for personal betterment? thank you muchly!

Thanks!

I think I know the chart you mean—it is from the book How to Be, Do, or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment by Laurence G. Boldt, called the Integrated Life Matrix. I posted it in 2007.

It’s a lousy title for this book, it is actually better than the sensationalized “how to have anything!” style that the title suggests. It is a step-by-step guide for creating your life the way you want it to look, in many arenas, not just professionally, but also personally, which is where this matrix above comes in.

My favorite non-smut non-fiction book recommendations for personal betterment I have mostly compiled into a self-awareness section of my Amazon A-store, makes it easy to keep track of in a list that way.

I’m a big fan of these kinds of books, actually—I know it’s a huge industry and many of them (70%? 90%? A LOT) are complete crap and useless for me, but even if I just pull one tool out of reading a book like this, that can be helpful and I’m glad I read it. At their best, they can be fantastic personal guides combining spirituality, philosophy, and psychology, three of my favorite subjects. I think it’s kind of silly that we don’t value self-improvement or self-knowledge very much, to the point where these books are put into a very easily dismissible category of “self-help.”

I used to call it my embarrassing indulgence, reading these, or my guilty pleasure. But I’m not so embarrassed about it these days. I’m very picky, and there are terrible books out there in this genre, don’t get me wrong. But there are also some very amazing writers and teachers in this genre who have significantly changed my life and world view.

Cheri Huber’s The Depression Book was completely life-changing for me. I credit Sharon Salzberg with a lot of the sparks of my committing to the Buddhist path and learning to meditate, she is incredibly down to earth and easy to follow, and she is phenomenal at teaching beginning meditation. David Richo has excellent psychology books with a Buddhist bent about healing and relationships. Charlotte Kasl’s book If the Buddha Dated really helped me make good (well, better than I would have otherwise) decisions through the recent period of dating. Many of the books in my A-store are also about creating your own career, carving out your own career path, and figuring out what it is that you want.

All of these have brought me here, to the teaching, writing, studying, and performing that I do now.

Protected: “So, What Happened?”

October 28, 2010  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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On Making Sex Last: Cheerleading & Open Relationships

September 8, 2010  |  essays  |  9 Comments

I’ve asked a couple people recently what their secrets were for their successful long-term relationship, how they keep the passion alive, how they keep walking that delicate line of having enough space and still being connected to each other. Coming together, going apart, coming back together, over and over through the years.

One friend answered, “Do you really want to know? We sleep around. We’re both big sluts. The commitment, to me, means that we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We don’t believe in possessing each other. I am always on the sidelines yelling, ‘Go you!’”

I find possession kind of hot, personally. In a playful way. But I love this cheerleader idea, the ways that a relationship can be built to support each other through our individual personal trials. And as long as the possession stuff can be fun and consensual, and not interfering with each other’s sovereignty, I think the two—cheerleading and possession—aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It reminds me of the quote in that relationship article I ran across long ago:

“Create for yourself a new indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness: You will experience moments, fleeting moments, with the other person. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his/her spirit. And then there may be, indeed will be, other moments, long periods of time when human beings are darkened. At such times, you will learn to say to yourself. ‘The spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype, I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it.’ Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is faithfulness. Striving thus for faithfulness you shall be close to one another as if endowed with the protective powers of angels.” -Rudolf Steiner

I think that perspective of cheerleading can also be seen as rooting for the other’s highest self, for what they’re capable of, at their best. So that part, yeah, I totally support.

The other part, though …

I have read all good the books about polyamory, I’ve been a proponent of The Ethical Slut and Opening Up by Taormino, I’m a big fan of Dan Savage who is constantly talking about how frequently monogamy fails, and I remain firm in the opinion that my significant, intimate partnering relationship should be open, but the degree of that openness, I’m still not really sure. In part, that’s where the other person comes in, but another part of me thinks that I am actually interested in a semi-monogamous relationship. Monogam-ish, as someone put it to me once.

I do believe in open relationships because, frankly, I’m a little bit of a slut. I have enough experience sexually to know that sex doesn’t actually have to mean anything, that it doesn’t have to necessitate a precursor to a relationship, that if I want to have sex with someone more than once, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to love them forever and shack up with them and share our lives intimately. And I don’t think that we, realistically, just stop feeling attracted to anyone else, ever, just because we’ve made a life-long commitment to another person. And that physical desire for someone else—or even intellectual or emotional desire—is not necessarily an indication of some deep-seated problem in the relationship.

I know it’s possible to be attracted to or interested in more than one person at the same time, and that one does not necessarily take away from the other. Most importantly, though, I recognize that just if or when I or my partner feels an attraction, I want us to be able to talk about that, to puzzle through it, to figure out if it’s important to go sleep with that person or if flirty coffee dates or making out is enough, or if it’s a temporary infatuation, or if it should become a bigger friendship.

Why do people cheat when they’re in a relationship? They cheat because they, ultimately, are feeling unfulfilled, sexually, emotionally, or otherwise. Because their relationship was sexually (or otherwise) incompatible from the beginning, but they made the decision to commit anyway, or because their relationship used to be sexually fulfilling, but isn’t anymore, because something changed (be it someone’s body, ability, health, sex drive, etc). This often leaves one person extremely unhappy and unfulfilled, while the other is guilty, apologetic, or withholding (or all of the above). But under the strict rules of monogamy, one can’t possibly go seek sex or comfort outside of the committed relationship without doing this awful, home-wrecking thing: cheating. Which is, according to most people, unforgivable.

But what about being so withholding as to not allow your partner their sexual fulfillment? How is that not the thing of which we are unforgiving?

And under the strict rules of relationships in this day and age, it isn’t just the monogamy that’s a problem: it’s the culture that de-emphasizes sex as not important, while simultaneously using it as the be-all end-all status symbol. Think about it: how many times have you heard someone complain that “the rest of the relationship is just fine!” And there’s “only” a problem with the sex part.

As if that was just this little, teeny piece.

Well, if you’re talking about a monogamous relationship, sex is pretty much the definition of what you are going to be doing with this person that you are going to avoid doing with every other person on the planet. And if you accept the premise that you are a sexual being and deserve to have your sexual needs fulfilled (though, I know, that’s a stretch for most folks), then by definition the key component of this monogamous relationship is to be sexually compatible.

But most of this stuff, for me personally, is theoretical-in-the-future. Because right now, my girlfriend and I are sexually compatible, are highly communicative about our needs (and continuing to practice and hone our communications skills), and very committed to both our sex life together and to our individual erotic fulfillment.

So we’re open.

But not because we want to sleep with other people. Well, threesomes, sure—we are both slutty enough and interested enough in interesting new sexcapades that doing sexual things together with other people is totally an option. And, sometimes, we have cashed in on that option, making dates with hot queers who, to our thrills, have agreed to come home with us.  We might be willing to play with other people at a party, and I have dreams of orchestrating a butch gang bang for her, where I just get to sit back and watch. Or maybe be the first and the last in a string of butches who get to take advantage of her.

But what about sex outside of this relationship, sex with another person on our own, without the other person there?

We’ve been talking about this, lately. From the beginning, we’ve claimed that we were open, and for a while that meant we could do whatever we wanted when we weren’t with each other, and we didn’t need to know about it. Then, as things got more serious between us, we decided we wanted to know, which (chicken or egg?) meant that neither of us were sleeping with anybody else.

But what does it mean now, a year and a half into our relationship? I guess we’re still working that out. By “regular” standards, we are open because most folks would consider things like threesomes or making out with another person potentially crossing the lines of monogamy. Oh yeah, and we have both attended erotic energy retreats, which others could (and have, for me) consider “cheating,” but which we are both fine with. And we are open because we are acknowledge that sexual desire for someone else can happen, and we should be able to talk about that, that desire for someone else doesn’t have to have repercussions within our own relationship,  and that sex can be fun and playful and, ultimately, meaningless.

As our lives become more entwined, though, and as we continue to be cheerleaders for more and more things in each other’s paths and trials and triumphs, from our sexual fulfillment to our careers to our emotional hurdles, we are less interested in other people. And playing with other people sexually, alone, without each other, just … doesn’t sound like much fun. We’ve both articulated that, recently. My sex life, at this point, has to do with her, and hers with me, and for a while anyway I want to be sure that she is a part of it.

For me personally, when I sleep with someone, I want to learn something. About myself, about the other person, about sex, about erotic energy exchange. For a long time, I was sleeping with people while looking for a person against which to form myself, I was looking for the particular magical orientation combination of femme-bottom-submissive to match up with my butch-top-dominant, while being in a person with whom I was also emotionally and politically compatible. Someone who would challenge me, someone who brought a lot to their side of the table, someone who took responsibility for their own shit. Someone that I could work on my own shit with, someone I could grow with, someone who will listen if I say, “I’m unhappy, and here’s why, and here’s what I think we should do about it.” Someone fierce, strong, capable.

If it sounds like a tall order, well … it is.

So for a while, I was just trying to find her. Searching and playing and refining what it was that I wanted by learning about what I didn’t want. And now that I’ve found someone like that, all I really want to do is play with her, in that delicious dynamic that I’ve been craving all this time. In our year and a half together we have already come to some fascinating new places in our sex life, and every time I find myself even remotely thinking that I’m bored or unfulfilled, I just quickly ask myself: well, what do you want? I bet whatever you ask for, she would be interested in doing it. And I quickly realize whatever momentary restlessness I felt was not about actually unfulfillment, but usually something else entirely. Usually something old of mine, rearing its ugly head.

And now that I have all of that, now that I have this relationship that continues to blossom and show me new things about myself, her, and the world, why would I go back to one night stands? I look back on my one-night stands, and even two- or three-night stands, and though they were fun, often a delight, they were also occasionally a disappointment. What would I learn, now, by sleeping with someone outside of my relationship?

I suppose it’s true that I am no longer looking for the be-all end-all package of my compatible girlfriend, so perhaps my standards for playful, casual are different, or should be. I think this is the question I should be asking myself: now that I have what I’ve wanted, and it basically works for me, what’s next? How do I continue to deepen my sense of self, my connection to erotic energy, and my connection to my girlfriend? What else can I—or do I want to—learn about sex?

Well, that’s a million dollar question. I will keep investigating.

On Processing & Analyzing

June 7, 2010  |  essays  |  33 Comments

Here’s the thing.

People have told me—in comments, in emails, sometimes even my friends in person make little comments or raise their eyebrows incredulously—that if my relationship with Kristen needs this much processing, perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with it, perhaps we just aren’t “meant to be.” This argument usually continues with something like, “My girlfriend and I have been together for x years and we never need as much analyzing as you do,” or, “Real couples don’t need to work this kind of thing out so constantly, I should know, I’m in a relationship and we don’t do that,” et cetera.

Well.

First of all, these comments have discouraged me from posting the analyzing, which I’ve been realizing lately I’ve been a bit nervous to do, precisely because of this occasional feedback. But not posting them publicly doesn’t actually solve this complaint, and isn’t actually a rebuttal to this argument.

And I just flat out don’t agree: I know that I am in a good, solid, beautiful relationship, and it is incredibly important to me. I’m not about to end it, certainly not because a stranger says my relationship is no good, and certainly not because we process (according to someone else’s standards) too much. But, yes, we do tend to talk (and talk and talk) about our inner psychological landscapes, about our feelings and histories, as a way to work things out, both individually and within our relationship.

So I got to thinking about that.

I think some people are just more or less analytical than others. I think perhaps we have some sort of “processing orientation,” that some people want to talk and process and analyze interactions and emotions constantly, and others despise doing so, and would even see that as a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

I don’t think one or the other is any more healthy—I think it’s just the way an individual works, or doesn’t work. I do think it’s important to be able to express our emotions, of course, especially to our partners, especially when there’s something bugging us, be it about our partner, about our relationship, or about our life in general, such that the relationship and our partner can be a bit of a sanctuary for us, but that looks differently for everyone.

Given that we all have a slightly different orientation toward processing and analyzing, then, what is important is not whether or not the analyzing and processing is happening, but to what degree, and whether the two people in the relationship are satisfied with that degree.

Despite our frequent verbal processing and analyzing, Kristen and I still have very different processing styles. She likes to talk quickly and immediately about what is going on, and I tend to let things sit, settle in, and to go over it all in my head or on paper before being able to express it to her. She figures things out as she talks, and I talk only after I’ve figured something out. It’s really hard for me to talk through something that I don’t feel I already know. Sometimes, that is really infuriating for Kristen, or so I’ve gathered, as she wants to talk now now now and I am still off in my own land of my head.

(I’m working on this—both by accepting that that’s the way I tend to work and by attempting to be more communicative when I’m off in my own head, even if it’s just to say, “please, can we talk about this a little bit later, I need a bit of time to think.” And by attempting to talk through things, even if it’s not entirely comfortable of my preference, when it is very important to her, and recognizing that it’s not pressure, it’s just part of how she works.)

It’s not as if it’s a perfect system, this human communication thing. We all bring so much to the table, and no matter how much we unlearn, no matter how much we practice being in a state of absolute Bodhicitta, there is so much in our minds, so many complicated moments folding over onto themselves in my muscles and tendons, in the grey matter of my brain.

And sure, it is possible, even (or perhaps especially) for those of us who are inclined toward emotional processing and psychological analysis to overdo it, to spend entirely too much time going around in circles micro-articulating every little thing. Sure, I’ve been guilty of this in the past, even in the past as recently as yesterday. I’m not trying to say that every aspect of processing and analyzing is necessary, just that perhaps we all have different levels of tendency toward these skills, that some of us see the world in a more analytical way and seek to understand our own emotions, psychology, and relationship in these ways. I’m certainly trying to find that balance, that place where I am understanding and expressing my emotions in clear, healthy ways, while not being indulgent or repressing how I feel. Where I am listening and being open, coming to new conclusions or altering my understanding of the situation as needed, and then, and perhaps this is the key part, moving on. (Sometimes it’s easy to just stay in the analysis part.)

So yeah, maybe I do have a tendency toward over-analyzing or over-processing. It is certainly possible that I process or analyze more than you do. Maybe you think it’s unimportant or that I am dwelling or making things harder than they have to be. But just know that we all have different levels of our tendencies to do this, and just because mine is not the same as yours doesn’t make mine or yours any better: it just makes it different.

Protected: letter to a friend

December 26, 2008  |  essays  |  Enter your password to view comments.

Do you remember: once, we were driving in your car, not sure where we were going, perhaps home from writing class, we spent a lot of time in your car then, but I remember precisely where we were, on the freeway under the Convention Center on I-5, and I think we were coming from an event somewhere, downtown maybe. We were talking about our friends, and living our own truths, and you said you can often see the downfalls and shortcomings of those around you. So I asked you what you thought mine was. "Power," you said. "You don't know your own power, your own strength."

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We’re just getting started

December 20, 2008  |  dirty stories  |  4 Comments

I won't tell you much about this date. There is no scene to report, no interesting beginning-middle-end with links to the toys I used (though I did go through three cocks). I won't speak of the ways I took her, the ways she opened and clenched tight. The tender places we both touched and from which we backed off (too too fragile). I won't speak to her mouth, her mouth, her near-perfect mouth and the way she tosses her head back, mouth open, this half-circle arc, when she comes.

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Define: Courtly

December 8, 2008  |  essays  |  9 Comments

Back in September, I asked for a word for someone who accepts chivalry. We had a lively discussion in the comments about what that person would be called. I really like the word "courtly" - here's why.

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