I used to think I wanted to be his fetish.
I wanted him to be obsessed with me.
Now I’m glad he’s not.
I dated a guy in my old poly web who had clear preferences, and all of them definitely what I was not. My ex liked small-breasted women, preferably androgynous/butch and athletic. I stood in stark contrast to that – curvy, thick, femme. I salsa danced in high heels. I’d been butch in the past but never the trim Tasha Yar type that got him super hard.
I’d like to say that I dealt with this disparity well, that I took it as the highest compliment that he wanted to be with me and recognized my quality even though I wasn’t his usual “type”. But that would be a huge face-saving lie.
It totally ate at me.
It didn’t help that my hottest of hot-button fetish acts were ones that were either completely off his radar or just at the edge of willingness to engage. He had a very specific set of things he enjoyed, and I enjoyed them with him, and I found that we cultivated this marvelous dirty, creepy energy when we were together.
But the whole time I felt like he was more in love with the idea of me (a willing partner who would go through his bucket list) than the reality of me.
I could have been anyone. I felt acceptable.
I took these feelings into my relationship with Skyspook – understandable since there was a bit of overlap here since Skypook was also in that same web.
Skyspook, however, didn’t profess strong preferences like my ex. He enjoyed a wide range of women and acts. Though heavily involved in the local kink scene, he didn’t have fetishes, at least not strong ones that were readily apparent. I boggled at this. I wanted to know why on earth someone would get into all this mumbo-jumbo without a few fetishes of their own.
Especially when we became Master/slave, I struggled to grasp why anyone would go to those lengths if it wasn’t their fantasy.
The closest thing Skypook had to a fantasy was excitement at the idea of being with someone who had fetishes, although Skyspook did have plenty of turn-ons. He also expressed appreciation for being with someone sex-positive and adventurous in bed. The openness of our sex life thrilled him, even more so than the specific contents.
I’d like to say that I dealt with these aspects of Skyspook well. But again, that would be a huge fucking lie.
I spent years feeling insecure and like he couldn’t really be THAT into me since I wasn’t his type, his fantasy. I wanted him to be obsessed with me. I was obsessed with him – I approached him from the depths of subspace, where I would sink to the bottom of a pool of endorphins and see his face peering down at me from above as though reflected through water, our voices distorted, our bodies melted, alloyed.
I was drunk on him, and I was convinced he was just phoning it in.
Earlier this year, Skyspook and I reopened our relationship to other partners after a long functionally monogamous hiatus (lots of adulting, personal development, therapy for me, etc).
Serendipitously, I briefly dated:
- A person with fetishes and physical preferences that I fit pretty much perfectly.
- A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder/obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
In short, it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be – and not at all what I expected.
Instead of feeling extraordinarily special and precious to #1, the entire time I felt interchangeable, that I had been chosen for characteristics that were an accident of nature and not anything I’d chosen for myself. While it was different than with my ex, in that I couldn’t have been anyone, it would have been very easy to do like they do in Hollywood and give me a body double. In #1’s defense, my wit was also mentioned as a huge boon, and I don’t feel like he was some kind of selfish jerk objectifying me in a non-sexy way, but I mean to emphasize that I didn’t get a huge ego boost for being his cup of tea or even feel like he cared for me or appreciated me more intensely because of this.
Which was telling.
And #2 fell quickly, madly, deeply… we spoke often in the 3 weeks we were involved. This was partly because I really enjoyed the things he had to say and also because he wrote so frequently that it felt rude not to respond (damn you, courtesy bias, you’ll be the death of me). His enthusiasm for me was contagious, and between the friendship we were fostering and his clear affections for me, I felt myself being quickly drawn in, reciprocating emotionally, seeing him far more often than I normally would see a new partner at this stage of the game for me (2 to 3 times a week – a TON with my current work-life balance issues), especially considering I wasn’t physically attracted to him. Once things progressed in a more serious physical direction, this became extremely evident to me. The lack of acceptable sensual entrainment was too stark, too much, and I wanted space to think because the progression of events was so intense, so confusing. And I certainly didn’t want to do the initial processing or unpacking with him because a) it’s extraordinarily difficult to be honest and raw in front of a person who you could easily offend (especially when navigating uncharted emotional waters about THEM) b) I’d known him just a few weeks.
Give a person with OCD/OCPD a sudden 180, ambiguity, lack of closure, and absolutely no control about a thing that they care deeply about and may very well be in jeopardy and see what happens. Actually, don’t do that. Save yourself the headache. It’s terrible. They suffer, demand answers, think you’re a terrible person, and lash out. Five days after breaking the news that it wasn’t working for me physically and requesting space (a request followed by 10,000 words of private messages over the ensuing days), I got fed up with the poking and prodding, half-insults, and his insistence on talking with me about what happened (specifically whether he thought I had lied to him intentionally or not, in essence, whether I’d led him on, which would tidily explain to him the 180). I snapped, got blunt (including a TMI non-sequitur overshare of a health problem that was consequent to stress from the conflict), and pushed back a bit.
#2: But without any rancor or hidden agenda, it’s worth noting that I was totally above board with you about everything. Feelings, attraction, personal detail. You weren’t. I make great efforts to avoid people’s triggers and meet them where they are, however you lied to yourself about what was going on and to me in turn. And instead of correcting it you bail.
Me: You are wasting an awful lot of energy on a liar.
#2: I’m determining if I am.
Me: I went in wanting to like you (seeing my feelings for you as a nuanced matrix of conflicting factors), I tried it thinking that the experience would make me feel closer, it was awful for me, and I’m done – and our interactions since then have solidified my decision. You can feel however you want, feel that I misled you, and that I did a shitty thing, and it doesn’t make you a hypocrite. Whether or not you mean to push, when you’re looking for answers, it comes off pushing and controlling, especially when there’s conflict. You don’t have to accept my version of events about what happened then or what is happening now, but I feel like I should offer them. You can argue with them but that doesn’t make me see it or feel it differently. But here’s the thing to keep in mind – no one owes anyone an explanation about anything. It doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter what it is. No one is entitled.
#2: If you don’t feel like setting my mind at ease is important you’re saying a lot about your ability to maintain a friendship.
#2: I hope someday you can honestly ask yourself how you can hurt someone’s feelings, make it their problem, and then throw it in their face when they try to make it right. That’s some serious kind of fucked up.
Again, we are grown-ass adults who dated for 3 weeks. Given those terms, this level of intensity is ridiculous.
So, on a very basic level… that intensity wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. Even the good parts of that brief experience, well, they weren’t intrinsically good because of the intensity. In fact, the intensity didn’t lend value to the connection by itself. In truth, even the good parts were a bit exhausting. We spoke and saw each other more in those weeks than what was sustainable or desirable.
No food tastes delicious when you gorge far beyond appetite. And certainly not one you’re trying to acquire a taste for because you think it’ll be good for you.
Skyspook loves me. He appreciates me because he understands me, which given my level of complexity, self-contradiction, and neurosis – well, it’s no small feat. And while the depth of that understanding has certainly grown over the years and the many hours of conversation (probably days or even weeks of talk at this point) that have ensued, he has always gotten me on a fundamental level that no one else has.
I don’t need his affection to be straightforward or all-consuming. It’s undeniably there.
And that, for once, is enough for me.