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COLUMN

Savage Love

I'm a man who recently started seeing a wonderful woman. Like me, she's divorced.

I’m a man who recently started seeing a wonderful woman. Like me, she’s divorced. While my ex-wife left me for another man, my girlfriend’s ex-husband was controlling and abusive. Our relationship is the opposite – emotionally, psychologically and sexually.

Here’s the thing: His abusive behavior is my kink – spanking. In all my past relationships, spanking was light, playful and consensual; with her ex, it was about pain and humiliation to the point of tears and bruising. She knows about my kink (as a Savage Love reader, I knew to bring it up after a couple of weeks) and understands that my motivations around spanking are completely different from her ex’s, but she has zero interest in anything approaching fetish play – and that’s fine, because I feel so connected to her that I don’t need my kink indulged to feel fulfilled. But I find myself feeling guilty for having the kink in the first place. The thought of her enduring what she did brings me to tears. How do I get past this?

cking A Clever Acronym

If your girlfriend’s ex-husband had manipulated or bullied her into vaginal intercourse – if he had repeatedly and brutally raped her vaginally during their terrible, awful, no good, very bad marriage – would you feel guilty about an interest in consensual, vanilla, missionary, penis-in-vagina intercourse? No. You would hopefully have reacted in a similarly compassionate manner after learning about her sexual history. You would have been willing to stick to oral, mutual masturbation and whatever else your new girlfriend was comfortable exploring and capable of enjoying. And you would have looked forward to the day when she felt ready to enjoy sensuous, consensual and mutually pleasurable vaginal intercourse again. And if that day never arrived, well, then perhaps you would have been willing to forgo vaginal intercourse for the rest of your life to be with her.

But you wouldn’t be sitting there feeling like some sort of monster for being aroused by – and for having enjoyed – consensual, vanilla, missionary, penis-in-vagina intercourse with other women.

Your willingness to drop your harmless kink is evidence that your priorities are in order, your heart is in the right place, your cowboy hat is white, etc. Any time you start feeling bad about your kink, just remind yourself that consensual kink isn’t abuse for the same reason consensual vaginal intercourse isn’t rape: Because it’s consensual. You can love this woman and make this relatively small sacrifice for this woman (spanking ain’t vaginal), without having to shame yourself or retroactively define all your past spanking experiences as abusive.

My boyfriend of five years had a one- night stand with a much younger woman. In some ways, it’s a good thing – we’re having conversations we should have had a long time ago, he’s seeing a therapist to deal with his issues (his idea, not mine) and somehow I know more than ever that I want to be with him (I’ve always been the one in every relationship with one foot out the door). Two questions:

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