I’m Kinky and My Partner is Not: Coming Out of the Closet (Part Two)
In my first blog about kink/straight relationships I talked about issues that arise when one partner in a relationship is closeted about kink and the other partner is straight or believed to be straight.
I’ve decided to write an additional blog on this issue because I’m finding that more and more couples are coming to me, struggling with common issues that often arise when a Kinky partner comes out of the closet to a partner who is straight. Before I talk about coming out of the kink closet with your partner, I want to cover a few related things.
This topic is so complex that I may write a series of blogs concerning Kink/Straight relationships. If you are struggling, and you don’t see the issue you are struggling with addressed here, feel free to reach out even if you are unable to come to me for counseling. I can’t do counseling via email, but will consider writing blogs to address frequently asked questions.
If you listen to Dan Savage, read Reddit, or get on Fetlife in an effort to find out if you can ‘save’ your Kink/Straight relationship you will probably be terrified. Common opinion on this issue is that when one partner is Kinky and the other partner is not, the relationship is doomed.
So many factors go into whether any relationship can work, that it’s disheartening to me that people are often led to believe that this is a black and white issue. I’ve helped a lot of Kinky/Straight couples find a sweet spot in their sex/bdsm life where both partners are happy and satisfied—even if they started out on opposite ends of the spectrum.
For any relationship to work, I believe that the following foundational things must be in place:
- Compatibility—I’m talking mostly about temperament and personality
- Good, constructive and loving communication—this can be taught and learned
- Loving attachment—this can be taught and learned
- Trust, honesty, and mutual respect – this can be rebuilt/enhanced
- Shared desire to make the relationship work
I am going to define a few BDSM terms now so that if you are new to this concept, you don’t feel confused by terminology. It should be said that BDSM is not always, or even pre-dominantly, sexual for the people who engage in it. BDSM can be sexual, but it doesn’t have to be sexual.
- Scene: when people engage in BDSM activities, either sexually or non-sexually. Scenes can last anywhere from twenty minutes to three or four hours. Most scenes are an hour or two.
- Dominant: a person who feels dominant in a scene or seeks that role. Sometimes described as the leader, the person ‘in-charge’, or driving sexual or BDSM activity. Some Dominants are Dominant 24/7 but most people who engage in BDSM and consider themselves Dominant are only Dominant while in a scene. This person generally wants to feel like they have varying degrees of power or control over the submissive.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH AN ABUSIVE PARTNER WHO WIELDS POWER OR CONTROL WITHOUT THE SUBMISSIVE’S CONSENT
- submissive: a person who feels submissive; sometimes described as the follower or the one who wants to be led or dominated. A submissive person may want to feel ‘controlled’ 24/7 or they may only feel submissive within the context of a sexual or non-sexual BDSM scene.
- Service Top: a person who Dominates a submissive person as an act of service. The service top can be straight (not kinky at all) but play the role of the Dominant—usually within the context of a play scene. A service Top will usually engage in this role because they see that their partner is in pain and they want to help them get their needs met.
- Service submissive: a person who submits to a Dominant person as an act of service. The service submissive can be straight (not kinky at all) but play the role of the submissive—usually within the context of a play scene
Notice that the only real difference between a service Top and a Dominant is that a service Top is behaving in a Dominant way, or engaging in Dominant behaviors as an act of service—to meet the needs of the submissive whereas a Dominant feels dominant and is compelled to dominate. The same is true of a service submissive versus a submissive.
I’m not going to muddy the already murky waters by describing Master/slave relationships because for the purpose of this blog you likely don’t need to know about them. The world of BDSM is massive and complex. I want to try to keep this blog as accessible as possible. If you are engaged in a Master/slave relationship or you would like to discuss engaging in one, I can help you with this kind of dynamic.
I’ve worked with countless couples where one partner is kinky and the other is straight. I’ve had a lot of success in helping couples work together to navigate a successful, happy relationship when their needs don’t match up concerning kink.
It is my experience that it is far more difficult to resolve this issue if the kinky partner is Dominant and is asking the straight partner to be submissive. I’m not saying it’s impossible—so many factors go into whether or not this kind of BDSM relationship can work. I am saying that you are looking at an uphill battle if you are a Dominant and you are hoping to play with your straight partner with him/her in a service submissive role. I can only see this being workable in an extremely close and loving relationship, and only if you, the Dominant, are interested in very light, erotic play as opposed to humiliation, beatings or other kinds of pain play. Other variables might factor into whether this sort of dynamic could work and I don’t want to discourage you from reaching out if you are a Dominant who is hoping to play with your straight partner.
In almost every case where I’ve counseled couples struggling to navigate a relationship where a submissive partner is asking a Straight partner to Dominate them, the couple has had success (assuming, of course, that the relationship is otherwise warm, connected, trusting, and loving).
Most commonly, the issues couples must work through when one partner comes out of the closet are:
- Negotiating boundaries around BDSM/Kink:
- Exploring how the straight partner feels about engaging in BDSM/Kink
- Discussing and negotiating what kinds of play the straight partner is open to engaging in—if they express an openness to playing at all
- Dealing with unmet needs for the kinky partner if the straight partner is not open to play
- Negotiating boundaries around play: when, how long, kinds of play, hard and soft limits
- Healing in relationships where the straight partner feels blindsided, or they feel like they are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop because the kinky partner gave the information to them in little pieces over a long period of time (this is common and can be worked through in therapy)
- Navigating boundaries around: when, where, what, how to discuss BDSM
- Learning to communicate about BDSM without either side feeling hurt, attacked, dismissed, or inundated with kink
- Building trust around a ‘new sexuality’
If you are currently in the kink closet and are scared to talk to your partner, you may benefit from scheduling an initial session with me alone. We can talk about your relationship and what is likely to happen when you talk to your partner. We can also discuss options concerning coming out to your partner. You may decide to talk to your partner alone and find out if they would like to come to counseling as a couple, to work through these issues, or you may choose to ask them to come to counseling to discuss something you’re struggling with, and I can help you come out to them in session.
Right now you may feel scared, overwhelmed, ashamed, isolated, anxious, or depressed. You don’t have to continue to live in fear of being ‘caught’, or having your ‘stash discovered’. You don’t have to continue to live in a relationship where you feel like the deepest part of yourself is a secret from your partner.
I hope you will reach out and allow me to help you, and potentially your relationship.